Awards & Recognition


Laertes is the recipient of an IPPY award for Clearing the Ground: the silver medal for cover design for fiction, 2016.


A PubWest gold medal for book design was presented to Laertes in 2016 for Clearing the Ground.

Advance Praise for Giovanni Pascoli: O Little One and Selected Poems

John Martone has managed to rediscover the poetry and prose poems of one of the great Italian poets of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: Giovanni Pascoli. There’s such a deep plangency and nostalgia to be found here, resurrected for us in an American idiom which evokes, among others, William Carlos Williams and Robert Creeley, skillfully embedded in the haiku-reinforced forms that all four poets so quietly and yet brilliantly employ. And yet for me there’s something more in Pascoli, something of the luminousness of the little child within each of us: that sense of awe and wonder, which the winds and storms of time do what they can to erase, but which these poets, singing (and weeping) a century apart, return Odysseus-like to us in poem after poem. Oh, that still faint, necessary music! How beautiful it is! And how restorative. —Paul Mariani

John Martone offers anglophone readers an essential Pascoli. He renders Pascoli’s voice with an evocative sparseness that effectively captures the sense of sudden, precise sensory impressions against a nebulous, hazy horizon. These translations allow us to hear the echoes of Wordsworth while drawing out Pascoli’s modernity through renditions that resonate with imagism. “In the case of poetry, one has to draw close in order to hear it.” Martone brings Pascoli closer to us. —Maria Rosa Truglio

The poems in their simplicity and focus on the natural world sometimes remind me of Garcia Lorca or certain Chinese poets or even early poems of Robert Bly . . . There is much to delight here. —Lou Lipsitz

Giovanni Pascoli “addresses the deepest part of himself ” and in doing so addresses the nature of language. Here is a moral harmony; a manifesto for a poetry of common memory and dream. Pascoli, quite simply, names truth; while of the nineteenth century, he is utterly contemporary. There is much of timeless poetics here, something of Blake’s visionary innocence, something of Whitman’s self-contradictions, yet Pascoli has his own tragic sadness to reconcile: He is unique. In John Martone he has met his perfect translator. Martone matches Pascoli’s erudition and intelligent ordering. He brings us a clarity from the limpid and sometimes conflicting apparent simplicity of Pascoli’s work. O Little One is vital to everyone who loves poetry. —Gerry Loose

Martone’s translations convey with grace the simplistic beauty of Pascoli’s verse, in both prose and poetry, and allow English-speaking readers to enter into his world. Most anyone with an interest in poetry and world literature would enjoy Martone’s translations, but I particularly recommend them to Italian American readers as a means of opening a window onto their cultural heritage. Pascoli’s works were written during the same historical period in which the great wave of Italian emigration to America began, and they give voice to the anguish and tensions of the times. The theme of home and family as symbolic places of refuge, scenes from Italian country life and its natural surroundings, reflections on death and grief, an exploration of the relationship between language—in dialectic, standard or classical form—and transcendent understanding, and, at the heart of O Little One, the reliance on the spirit of one’s childish self for inspiration and succor in troubling times, imbue the works that Martone has translated, and by engaging with them we can gain greater insight into the cultural elements that continue to inform contemporary Italian American identity. —Carla Simonini

Praise for Clearing the Ground

I scanned Cavafy availed by 15 pundits of translation and criticism; only now I begin to discern this poet to be a man as I would be, a man whose diversified fulfillments and consummations were to be held within one apprehension, the which, I now discern, he had achieved. Thank you, Martin McKinsey. —Richard Howard

It strikes me as a must for anyone interested in modern poetry, queer studies, or (as I am most) how a poet discovers the courage and conviction to make a lasting mark in language. —Joshua Weiner

An important contribution to primary and secondary bibliographies of modern gay letters. —Josiah Blackmore

McKinsey’s technique of reporting the poet’s jottings and then placing a relevant poem in the midst of those jottings brings Cavafy (not to mention the poem in question) alive in a way that, at least for me, has never happened before. —Peter A. Bien

The notes put each poem in a new light. —Thomas W. Laqueur

No one interested in the hidden currents that electrify great literature can afford to miss Clearing the Ground. Djelloul Marbrook

A pleasure to read . . . the fruit of a very long scholarly engagement with Cavafy and also the work of a skilled translator with acute critical sensibilities . . . An attractive, user-friendly, creative and informative volume, which will delight and enlighten many readers. —Sarah Ekdawi, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Cambridge Core