Jacques Roubaud

Jacques Roubaud was born in the town of Caluire, in the Provence region of southern France. He once called himself a `manufacturer of mathematics and poetry'. At twenty-two, Roubaud abandoned his literature studies to devote himself to mathematics.

In the early 1960s he was working simultaneously on a thesis on set theory and a book of poetry, having found that mathematic strategies work very well in poetic creation. The result was published in 1967, and has as its title , a symbol from set theory, meaning `contained within'. By introducing new rules, Roubaud succeeds in breaking open the time-honoured form of the sonnet. By this procedure he attracted the attention of Raymond Queneau, who recruited Roubaud for his group OULIPO, or `Workshop for Potential Literature'.

Apart from poetry, Jacques Roubaud has published numerous translations, of modern American as well as traditional Japanese poetry. He has rewritten texts from France's ancient heritage, notably the tales of the Holy Grail; he is the author of prose books, such as the Hortense trilogy, and an ongoing semi-autobiographic project, begun in 1989, which has produced four books so far. Finally, Jacques Roubaud is an untiring champion of poetry in, among other publications, Poésie, etcetera: ménage (1995), in which he makes a clean sweep of popular prejudices about contemporary poetry. Roubaud's work has been widely translated.

Beard of Bees Publications