Poetry. Bilingual Edition. Translated from the French by John Ashbery. "Not surprisingly, Martory's poetry doesn't seem to derive from any of the various modernist (or post-modernist) French schools, though there are echoes of fringe surrealists like Reverdy and the chameleon-like Raymond Queneau, whose wicked, witty and wistful novels of French lowlife are the perfect antidote to existentialism and must have affected Martory's own writing. The austerity of Jouve's poetry and the otherworldly fantasy of Supervielle's also come to mind. There is a touch of the gaiety of Rene Clair's early films; of the blues of his favorite singers Florel and Piaf and the song "Sombre Dimanche" ("Gloomy Sunday"), which seems to sum up the thirties. (As a child Martory and his brother were forbidden to listen to it by their stepmother, who had heard it could lead to suicide.) Both the humor and the sadness in his poems are always rendered with an unemphatic clarity that is certainly Mozartian. All of which may be a way of saying that there is no very easy way to describe Martory's poetry. It is sui generis and it deserves to be read. And reread"—John Ashbery.
Pierre Martory was born in Bayonne, France (1920). He grew up in Morocco and joined North Africa's Free French Army during World War II. He published the novel Phébus ou le beau mariage with Denoël (1953) and worked as drama and music critic for Paris-Match for over twenty years. In March 1956, Martory met John Ashbery, then on a Fulbright in Paris, where they lived together nine years. In 1962, Ashbery dedicated The Tennis Court Oath to Martory. In the seventies, Martory collaborated with the artist Francis Wishart on a volume of text and etchings entitled Le Père-Lachaise. In 1990, Ashbery translated Martory's first poetry collection, Every Question but One, and in 1994 Sheep Meadow Press published Martory's first full-length volume of poetry, THE LANDSCAPE IS BEHIND THE DOOR. A collection of poems in French, Veilleur de jours (Sheep Meadow Press- Alyscamps Press), appeared in 1997. Martory died in Paris on October 5, 1998. Author City: BAYONNE FRA