Claude Royet-Journoud: Four Elemental Bodies


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Royet-Journoud’s tetralogy assembles the volumes Reversal, The Notion of Obstacle, Objects Contain the Infinite, and Natures Indivisible [Le renversement, La notion d’obstacle, Les objets contiennent l’infini, Les Natures indivisibles].

Claude Royet-Journoud is one of the most important contemporary French poets whose one-line manifesto: “Shall we escape analogy” marked a revolutionary turn away from Surrealism and its lush imagery. His spare, “neutral” language, stripped of devices like metaphor, assonance, alliteration has had a great influence on recent French poetry.

Claude Royet-Journoud was born in 1941, in Lyon. He edited the legendary journal Siècle à mains (with Anne-Marie Albiach & Michel Couturier, 1963-70) and later “A,” Zuk, and L’In-plano. He has been a champion of American poetry since the sixties, when he translated Oppen and published Ashbery and Zukofsky. More recently, he has edited (with Emmanuel Hocquard) two major anthologies of new American poets, 21+1: Poètes américains d’aujourd’hui (Delta, 1986) and 49+1: Nouveaux poètes américains (Royaumont, 1991). Interviews in English have appeared in lingo #4 (1995) and in Serge Gavronsky: Toward a New Poetics (University of California Press, 1994).

Claude Royet-Journoud lives in Paris. He has received the Grand Prix de poésie de la ville de Paris.

“Words from the far side of silence”
—Edmond Jabès

“Claude Royet-Journoud is one of the most exciting poets of the new generation in France. Combining lyricism and narrative in a highly original way, his work is elegant, controlled and extremely moving.”
—Paul Auster

“To read Claude Royet-Journoud is to experience the elements of the telling itself. Less, for once, is truly more.”
—Michael Palmer

“…The force arcing between the contradictions of body/no body, speaking/the unspeakable, here becomes a driving force, heading toward fragmentation on the one hand and fusion on the other. It is between these two accuracies that the human subject, as voice, must establish itself… Keith Waldrop is the ideal translator for these works because…Waldrop’s own poetry undertakes related and equally intricate questions.”
—Cole Swensen, Poetry Flash