(13 September 1889
- 17 June 1960
) was a French
poet associated with surrealism
Pierre Reverdy was born in Narbonne and grew up near the Montagne Noire in his father's house. Reverdy came from a family of sculptors. His father taught him to read and write. He studied at Toulouse and Narbonne.
Reverdy arrived in Paris in October 1910. It was there, at the famous Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre that he met Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Louis Aragon, André Breton, Philippe Soupault and Tristan Tzara.
For sixteen years, Reverdy lived for his writing. His companions were Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse and many others. These were the years in which surrealism took flight and Reverdy partly inspired it. In the first Surrealist Manifesto, André Breton hailed Reverdy as "the greatest poet of the time," and Louis Aragon said that for Breton, Soupault, Éluard and himself, Reverdy was "our immediate elder, the exemplary poet.
In 1917, together with Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire, Reverdy founded the influential journal Nord-Sud ("North-South") which contained many Dadaist and then surrealist contributions. It continued until 1918.
Reclusive by nature, Reverdy began to distance himself from these circles, and in 1926, at the age of 37, he left Paris, converted to Catholicism and went to live in Solesmes, home of the great St. Peter's Abbey. He stayed there until his death in 1960. During this time he wrote several collections including Sources du vent, Ferraille and Le Chant des morts.
- 1915 Poèmes en prose (Paris, Imprimerie Birault).
- 1916 La lucarne ovale (Birault).
- 1916 Quelques poèmes (Birault).
- 1917 Le voleur de Talan, roman (Avignon, Imprimerie Rullière).
- 1918 Les ardoises du toit, illustrated by Georges Braque (Birault).
- 1918 Les jockeys camouflés et période hors-texte, (Imprimerie F. Bernouard).
- 1919 La guitare endormie, (Imprimerie Birault).
- 1919 Self defence. Critique-Esthétique. (Birault).
- 1921 Étoiles peintes, (Paris, Sagittaire).
- 1921 Cœur de chêne, (Éditions de la Galerie Simon).
- 1922 Cravates de chanvre, (Éditions Nord-Sud).
- 1924 Pablo Picasso et son œuvre, in Pablo Picasso(Gallimard).
- 1924 Les épaves du ciel (Gallimard).
- 1925 Écumes de la mer, (Gallimard).
- 1925 Grande nature (Paris, Les Cahiers libres).
- 1926 La peau de l'homme, (Gallimard).
- 1927 Le gant de crin (Plon).
- 1928 La balle au bond, (Marseille, Les Cahiers du Sud).
- 1929 Sources du vent, (Maurice Sachs éditeur).
- 1929 Flaques de verre (Gallimard).
- 1930 Pierres blanches, (Carcassonne, Éditions d'art Jordy).
- 1930 Risques et périls, contes 1915-1928 (Gallimard).
- 1937 Ferraille (Brussels).
- 1937 Preface for Déluges by Georges Herment (José Corti).
- 1940 Plein verre (Nice).
- 1945 Plupart du temps, poèmes 1915-1922, which collects Poèmes en prose, Quelques poèmes, La lucarne ovale, Les ardoises du toit, Les jockeys camouflés, La guitare endormie, Étoiles peintes, Cœur de chêne et Cravates de chanvre (Gallimard, reedited in 1969 in the « Poésie » series).
- 1945 Preface for Souspente by Antoine Tudal (Paris, Éditions R.J. Godet).
- 1946 Visages, (Paris, Éditions du Chêne).
- 1948 Le chant des morts, (Tériade éditeur).
- 1948 Le livre de mon bord, notes 1930-1936 (Mercure de France).
- 1949 Tombeau vivant, Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, in Tombeau de Jean-Sébastien Galanis (Paris, imprimé par Daragnès).
- 1949 Main d'œuvre, poèmes 1913-1949, which collects: Grande nature, La balle au bond, Sources du vent, Pierres blanches, Ferraille, Plein verre and Le chant des morts and adds Cale sèche and Bois vert, (Mercure de France).
- 1950 Une aventure méthodique, (Paris, Mourlot).
- 1953 Cercle doré, (Mourlot).
- 1955 Au soleil du plafond, (Tériade éditeur).
- 1956 En vrac (Monaco, Éditions du Rocher).
- 1959 La liberté des mers, (Éditions Maeght).
- 1962 À René Char, (Alès, P. A. Benoît, poème épistolaire tiré à 4 ex.)
- 1966 Sable mouvant, (Paris, L. Broder éditeur).
A glass of papaya juice
and back to work. My heart is in my
pocket, it is Poems by Pierre Reverdy.
--Frank O'Hara, "A Step Away From Them
"Reverdy's strange landscapes, which combine an intense inwardness with a proliferation of sensual data, bear in them the signs of a continual search for an impossible totality. Almost mystical in their effect, his poems are nevertheless anchored in the minutiae of the everyday world; in their quiet, at times monotone music, the poet seems to evaporate, to vanish into the haunted country he has created. The result is at once beautiful and disquieting as if Reverdy had emptied the space of the poem in order to let the reader inhabit it" --Paul Auster
Translations in English
English translations of Reverdy's work have appeared in a smattering of volumes over the years, most of which are now out of print but still available used. Beginning in the early sixties, several writers have produced translations of Reveredy's work, notably Kenneth Rexroth, John Ashbery, Mary Ann Caws, Patricia Ann Terry and, more recently, Ron Padgett.
- Pierre Reverdy: Selected Poems - translated by Kenneth Rexroth (New Directions, 1969)
- Roof Slates and Other Poems of Pierre Reverdy - translated by Caws & Terry (Northeastern Univ. Press, 1981)
- Selected Poems by Pierre Reverdy - edited by Timothy Bent and Germaine Brée (Wake Forest Univ. Press / Bloodaxe (UK), 1991)
- Prose Poems - translated by Ron Padgett (Black Square Editions, 2007)
- Haunted House (long prose poem) - translated by John Ashbery (Black Square Editions, 2007)