site map

Response & Bio Jean-Michel Maulpoix

Question #19) Nathan Parker on being drawn to prose poetry: “Prose poems tend to be my favorite thing to come across when browsing through lit journals… I think that this is because, ironically, they have a marked absence of pretense. I don’t know, maybe they do tend to be absurd or surreal or witty or wacky or what-have-you, but after reading a bundle of good prose poems, no matter what their subject, I think the presence the careful reader soon becomes aware of is one of honest urgency. Sorrow, even.”

I think poems in prose cause poetry to flatten out in away. A poem in verse is a standing text whose “posture” on the page is noticeable; a prose poem tends to melt into the indifference of the page. It doesn’t sing in the same way. To all appearances, there’s nothing noteworthy about it. Still, it’s been finely wrought and stretched. It’s prose that stretches out towards poetry. It watches it, it observes it. It seeks it out. It examines it. I like the idea of honest urgency that Nathan Parker proposes, and the idea of sorrow, too…. Indeed, everything happens as though the prose poem is endeavoring to understand what’s at stake within the poetic: where it comes from, what it can do, where it’s going. In the final analysis, the prose poem stands closer to real life, though it never loses sight of what Mallarmé called the “instinct for sky”, what I would call “the melancholy of ink”.


Jean-Michel Maulpoix was born on November 11, 1952 in Montbéliard, France. His writing finds its roots in a sort of critical lyricism, and he characterizes it as an on-going dialogue between prose. He is the author of poetic works such as Une histoire de bleu (A Matter of Blue), L’Instinct de ciel (Instinct for Sky) and, most recently Pas sur la neige (Snow Steps). He has also penned critical studies on a variety of French poets, including Henri Michaux, Jacques Réda and René Char, along with more general essays on poetry, La poésie malgré tout (Poetry Despite it All) and Du lyrisme (On Lyricism). Jean-Michel Maulpoix is director of the quarterly literary journal Le nouveau Recueil as well as professor of modern and contemporary poetry at the University Paris X-Nantere.

Dawn Cornelio received her PhD in French from the University of Connecticut in 2001, where her thesis was entitled Understanding Lyrical Circulation: Reading and Translating Jean-Michel Maulpoix’s Une histoire de bleu. Since 2002 she has been assistant professor of French Studies at the University of Guelph (Ontario), and was recently named to a three year appointment as Coordinator of the College of Arts and College of Human and Applied Social Sciences’s Women’s Studies Program. She has published numerous brief literary translations in Sites: The Journal of 20th Century French Studies, along with Stallone, Friday Night and Switchblade by Emmanuèle Bernheim and Jean-Michel Maulpoix’s collection of poetry Monologue de l’encrier/The Inkwell’s Monologue. Her research interests include both the theory and practice of literary translation and contemporary French women’s writing.