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Flowers of Bad
Flowers of Bad

David Cameron

Poetry $16
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"Perhaps these false translations are the truest of all."

Flowers of Bad is David Cameron's false translation of Charles Baudelaire's 19th century masterpiece, Les Fleurs du Mal. Developing, revamping, and refurbishing them along the way, Cameron has employed original methods of translation—outlined in detail at the end of the book—evolved from difficulties he has encountered in writing and translation. Rather than trying to build a bridge across the gap that exists between his and Baudelaire's languages, Cameron descends a rope ladder into the chasm itself.

Published by Unbelievable Alligator; co-published by UDP.

Excerpt ˇ


Something came to me in the garden
The other day. I was out walking, and under my feet: Nature!
It was saying to me: September!
I should have replied: Life and September!

Hermes the thief helps me out,
Always looking over my shoulder.
He gives me the same advice he gave to Midas
Who was the suckiest of all alchemists.

For him I've changed gold into iron
And twenty into eleven.
I've walked in the fog among barenaked trees

And stumbled across an exquisite corpse,
And there beneath her starry locks
I kissed open her sarcophagus.Close ˆ

About the Author

David Cameron
A native of Brooklyn, David Cameron continues to live and work there with his wife Holly. He has been writing, giving readings and publishing his work for more than twenty years, gathering a few awards here and there along the way.

In 1990 he took a course with Jackson Mac Low at Binghamton University. That workshop and the correspondence that the two kept up following the class’ end contributed greatly to Cameron's beginning to write his false translations of Les Fleurs du Mal.

For several years in the 1990's Cameron edited and published an irregularly appearing poetry pamphlet called Cocodrilo. He distributed it freely, with the casual intention of cross-germinating the poetries being produced in the nascent poetry slam scene—then centered around the Nuyorican Poets' Café—and the work of the latest generation of poets to arrive at The Poetry Project (at St. Mark's Church in the Bowerie).

Along with Flowers of Bad, David Cameron is also the author of Several Ghouls Hardly Worth Mentioning (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs) , and L.P., a series of variations on the Lord's Prayer which will appear as a free, downloadable e-book in the near future from Unbelievable Alligator. In 2005, he was the recipient of a Fellowship in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Advance Praise

David Cameron's 'translations' of Baudelaire are actually no such thing. They are poems by David Cameron, brilliant, beautiful, and original. His rejection of literalness in approaching his French material has forced him into fervors of inventiveness where his nutty imagination takes sturdy shape, buttressed perhaps by Baudelaire's structures but creating out of them new worlds that are all his own and now, thankfully, ours too.—Harry Mathews
David Cameron may very well be the best of the unknown rip-off artists of his generation.—Jack Spicer
Lovers of this immense, generous and magical text are delighted that Flowers of Bad will no longer have to be passed hand to hand. Cameron's false translation has drunk of Baudelaire's 'pure et divine liqueur' but, instead of languishing within the hysteria that so sickened the master, these bad flowers fully inhabit 'the mayhem laughing.' Vertiginous as the Coney Island Cyclone and as dazzlingly risky, these micro-tales and imaginal incidents are exploded into being, alchemically, by the means of a mistaken, and pains taken mistranslation. Inspired by Jackson Mac Low's spirit and poetic procedures, the text is modern, and beyond. Flowers of Bad is, incidentally, funny as hell. And truly an 'Invitation au Voyage.'—KIMBERLY LYONS