Pierre Reverdy

Pierre Reverdy (1889–1960) was born in Narbonne, France in 1889. After his arrival in Paris in 1910, he became friends with Picasso, Braque, Juan Gris, Max Jacob and Apollinaire. Although never a part of the Surrealist movement, he was declared by Andre Breton to be “the greatest poet of his time,” in the first Surrealist Manifesto. Reverdy also created the highly influential journal Nord-Sud in 1917. After his conversion to Catholicism in 1926, he gradually withdrew from public literary life and left Paris for rural Solesmes, to live near the Abbey de Solesme where he continued to write. He continued this secluded existence, with occasional forays into Paris and abroad, until his death in 1960. In addition to his many books of poetry, Reverdy published three volumes of notebooks, two early novels, a collection of stories and a study of Picasso. His poetry in English can be found in various journals, but principally in the books: Selected Poems, translated by Kenneth Rexroth (New Directions, 1969) and Selected Poems, translated by Mary Ann Caws, Patricia Terry, and John Ashbery (Wake Forest University Press, 1991). Several other translations by Ron Padgett and others may be found in the Asheville Poetry Review, (10 Great Neglected Poets of the 20th Century, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2000). Also of interest: The Random House Book of 20th Century Poetry, edited by Paul Auster (Bilingual Edition, Random House, New York, 1984).

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