Pierre Reverdy

Pierre Reverdy was born in Narbonne, France, in 1889, and came to Paris in 1910, where he founded the groundbreaking, highly influential journal Nord-Sud in 1917 with Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire, publishing those poets as well as the early work of André Breton, Tristan Tzara, Louis Aragon, Philippe Soupault, Vicente Huidobro, and Jean Cocteau. He also became closely associated with Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and Juan Gris, each of whom later illustrated one or more of his books. André Breton, in his first Surrealist Manifesto, hailed Reverdy as “the greatest poet of the time.” Yet after living at the center of French poetry and culture for some fifteen years, Reverdy withdrew from it almost completely, converting to Catholicism in 1926 and leaving Paris with his wife, Henriette, for Solesmes, a village near the Belgian border best known for its Benedictine abbey. During the German occupation of France of World War II, he served as a partisan in the resistance movement. Except for intermittent visits to Paris, Reverdy continued to write and to live what he called a “quasi-monastic life” in Solesmes until his death in 1960.