One of France’s most important post-‘68 poets, Claude Royet-Journoud developed a spare style that interrogates language through distillation, taking poetry beyond image and metaphor. His tetralogy, comprised of Le Renversement, La Notion d’obstacle, Les Objects contiennent l’infini, and Les Natures indivisible, all published by Gallimard between 1972 and 1997, is now a classic in the long tradition of French poetic innovation going back to François Villon. Royet-Journoud’s work has been translated into nineteen languages and has received many grants and awards, including the 2000 Grand Prix de Poésie de la Ville de Paris. In Theory of Prepositions, his first book-length work since the tetralogy, Royet-Journoud charges the interstices of language with a vivid and compassionate force as he continues to explore the implications of the page-as-stage for a poetics of immanence.
Royet-Journoud has also been instrumental in bringing American experimental poetry to France, both through his translations of George Oppen, John Ashbery, and others and his publication of American poets from Louis Zukofsky to Benjamin Hollander in a variety of journals and anthologies that he has edited, including two volumes co-edited with Emmanuel Hocquard: 21+1: Poètes américains d’aujourd’hui and 49+1: Nouveaux poètes américains. Royet-Journoud’s work has also appeared in journals such as Conjunctions, Temblor, and oblek, and in the critical volumes Code of Signals, edited by Michael Palmer, and Toward a New Poetics, edited by Serge Gavronsky.
Translator Keith Waldrop is best-known as the author of seventeen volumes of his own poetry. His 2009 volume Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy won the National Book Award; his first book was a finalist for the same award, and he has also won the Americas Award for Poetry. An emeritus professor at Brown University, he has translated many of France’s most innovative poets into English, and his recent translations of Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil and Paris Spleen, both published by Wesleyan, have presented these monuments of modernism in a vibrant new light. He has translated all four books of Royet-Journoud’s tetralogy, and they have been published in a single volume titled Four Elemental Bodies by Burning Deck Press, a press he co-founded and co-edits with the poet Rosmarie Waldrop. He has been made a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French government.