French Poetry

For this week’s poetry discussion we will be looking at post-war French poetry.


There should be something for everyone among the 4 poems by 4 poets selected, from rhyme and sonnets to typographical experimentation.
Of course, we will read the poems as English poems in their own right, but – especially with the poems where the layout on the page is particularly important – I have included the French originals for comparison. All the poems selected were written between 1968 and 1970. They are taken from Edward Lucie-Smith and Simon Watson Taylor’s anthology French Poetry Today: A Bilingual Anthology (London: Rapp and Whiting, 1972), from which I’ve also included a bit of info on all the poets below.

We will be meeting at 5:15pm on Thursday, 23rd August, in HumSS Room 112, Whiteknights Campus

A jeudi!

Alain Jouffroy:
‘Jouffroy has been the advocate in France of Ginsberg and the Beat poets. The basic emotional and psychological thread which unites Jouffroy’s work is surrealism.’ He has edited an anthology of Beat poets.

Andre du Bouchet:
‘Du Bouchet is deeply concerned with the problem of human identity. Examining the sometimes tenuous relationship that can be established between man and the objects that surround him, and between man and a universe of light and space, he is a ‘spatialist’ poet in the true sense of the word: wide typographical spacing of the poem on the page is an essential element in the way he records his intensely visual perception of a cosmic reality in which man is only one frail element.’ He has translated, among others, the poetry of Paul Celan.

Raymond Queneau:
Has written several novels and collections of short stories in addition to his poetry. He himself says: ‘I have set myself (in the novel) rules as strict as those of a sonnet…One can rhyme characters and situations as one rhymes words, one can be even satisfied with alliterations. In fact, I have never seen essential differences between the novel, of the kind I want to write, and poetry.’

Edith Boissonas:
‘Mme Boissonas’ poetry strikes a particularly individual note in France today. She has strong affinities with the metaphysical poets of the seventeenth century, but her work is characterized by a slight air of dishevelment, with turns of phrase anjd images which seem to jar with one another. Through these discords the poet expresses the sensibility of her own century.’

About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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