La Presse

One of France’s most important post-‘68 poets, Claude Royet-Journoud has devoted his life to poetry—to writing it, reading it, and disseminating it. He has edited several poetry journals, including Siècle à mains with Anne-Marie Albiach and Michel Couturier, L’in-plano, ZUK, and Vendredi 13. He also ran a daily radio program, Poésie ininterrompue, which aired for four years on France-Culture, and was influential in developing public readings in France. 

With Emmanuel Hocquard, he edited two volumes of American experimental work in French translation, titled 21+1 and 49 + 1. His central four book sequence—Le renversement, La notion d’obstacle, Les objets contiennent l’infini, and Les natures indivisibles, all published by Gallimard—is now a classic in the long tradition of French poetic innovation going back to Villon. In it, Royet-Journoud brings an unprecedented tension and dynamic to the page and an insistence upon the materiality—the immanent reality—of the line as an act in space. He reveals the drama at the center of language, and places language at the center of our lives—as individuals, interlocutors, and cultures. Translated into 19 languages, his work has received many grants and awards, including the 2000 Grand prix de poésie de la ville de Paris. He lives and works in Paris.

Translator Keith Waldrop is the author of 17 volumes of his own poetry, including his 2009 volume, Transcendental Studies, which won the National Book Award that year; he has also won the Americas Award for Poetry and has been made a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French government. He has translated many of France’s most innovative poets into English, and his recent translation of Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil and Paris Spleen (Wesleyan University Press) has brought those works into English with all their true spirit for the first time. His work has been supported by two NEA translation fellowships, and, with Rosmarie Waldrop, he is the founder and editor of Burning Deck Press.

An aphoristic complement to Royet-Journoud’s 2006 La Presse book Theory of Prepositions, this collection of poetic declarations and explorations manages to be simultaneously provocative and contemplative. His evocation of the preposition is not without homage to Louis Zukofsky, a poet central to Royet-Journoud’s work; they share a deep affinity for the particular, and beyond that, for the actual particulars that compose our days, and for the delicate tissue that binds them:  “ . . . in the very articulation, sense becomes magnetic.” Here the poetics of one of the most important French poets of the late 20th/early 21st centuries is articulated—lucidly and luminously. In short, he sheds light on the subject.