Michel Deguy - Biography
Michel Deguy, born in Paris in 1930, is a French poet and philosopher. The ability to bring together poetic practice and theoretical reflection turned Michel Deguy into a major figure on the French intellectual scene in the 1970s. Michel Deguy is currently a professor of French literature at the Universite de Paris VII (Saint-Denis), the founder and editor-in-chief of Po&sie since 1972 (Editions Belin), and the editor of Les Temps Modernes, the journal founded by Jean-Paul Sartre. He is the former president of the Collège international de philosophie and of the Maison des écrivains.
After graduating in Humanities and Philosophy, Michel Deguy attended lectures by Michel Alexandre and Jean Hyppolite. He remained very close to the deconstructionist movement, becoming friends with Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Nancy. Michel DeGuy taught philosophy until 1968. Known for his immense generosity and energy, Michel Deguy has contributed to the development of many French literary and philosophical institutions (for instance, the review Critique, College international de philosophie, and Gallimard Editions). He is also active as a translator of, among others, Martin Heidegger, Gongora, Sappho, Dante Alighieri, and various American poets. Michel Deguy has written over thirty books published in France and translated into many languages, and he has received numerous awards, among them the 1998 Gran Prix National de la poésie, the 2000 Grand Prix de la Société des Gens de Lettres, and the 2004 Grand Prix de poésie de l'Académie Française.
Michel Deguy prefers to be named a 'writer of poems' or 'the poet I am seeking to be' and his multiform work escapes the straitjacket of classification, combining philosophical thinking, poetry and literary culture. A trained philosopher, Michel Deguy is a thinker-poet able to mediate between the poetic tradition and radical shifts in thinking brought about by structuralism and poststructuralism. Always on the move, his thoughts and language take the reader to different places, constantly resisting the forces of inertia. His creativity is located between the impossibility and necessity of thinking, refusing to see poetry as a genre. Rather, poetry is a given, a critical dialogue of thought. Named by Jacques Derrida to be 'a poet of promised lands', Michel Deguy's attitude is not curiosity but concern, a painful attention to what is, to what happens to be. He is a poet at the forefront of experiment and change, and yet steeped in a warm sensitivity to the literature and aesthetics of the past.
Michel Deguy is a nomad poet, traversing all spaces and times, and his poems act as a space to bring interaction, rather than a fusion of disparate things. If his early collections were occupied with his constant exploration of the space outside the periphery of Being, his succeeding works gave a central stage to the language and role of metaphor. Famous for a lively style bursting with neologisms, rare words and coinages, his late works show the poet as a traveler, lover and mass media consumer, with his poetry bearing the signs and discourses of the reality of the modern world. According to Michel Deguy, the essence of any relation to that world is to be found in the element of desire.
Michel Deguy's writes:
...the poem is made of sequences in which images, figures of speech and rhythm are undivided. One needs to enter this ‘undivision’", and what it does, the proposition it issues, in both senses of the word, logical and erotic: “Let us call a sentence a proposition. A poem makes propositions
Michel Deguy has published the following works: L'Etat de la désunion: Que dire à l'Unesco? (Editions Galaade. March 4, 2010), La Fin dans le monde. (Herman. November 5, 2009), Grand Cahier Michel Deguy. (Editions Le bleu du ciel. October 18, 2007), Desolatio. (Galilée. 2007), Réouverture après travaux . (Galilée. 2007), Le sens de la visite. (Stock. 2006), Donnant donnant: poèmes, 1960-1980. (Gallimard. 2006), Sans Dieu. (Cercle d'art. 2006), Recumbents: Poems. (Wesleyan University Press. 2004), Chemins tournants: cycles et recueils en littérature des romans du graal à la poésie contemporaine. (Presses Sorbonne nouvelle. 2004), Sans retour: être ou ne pas être - juif. (Galilée. 2004), Poésie & valeur . (Editions VVV Editions. 2004), Au jugé. (Galilée. 2004), Un homme de peu de foi. (Bayard. 2002), Changements d'adresses. (Belin. October 2002), Poèmes en pensée . (Le bleu du ciel. 2002), Spleen de Paris. (Galilee. 2001), L'impair. (Farrago. 2000), La Raison Poétique. (Galilée. 2000), Gisants. Poèmes III: 1980 - 1995. (Gallimard. 1999), Ouï dire: Poèmes I, 1960-1970. (Gallimard. 1998), Mallarmé. (Belin. 1998), L'énergie du désespoir : ou d'une poétique continuée par tous les moyens. (Presses Universitaires de France. 1998), A ce qui n'en finit pas: thrène. (Seuil. 1995), Le comité. (Champ Vallon. September 1993), Le Cerveau. (Jérôme Millon. July 1993), Aux heures d'affluence : poèmes et proses. (Seuil. 1993), Of the Sublime: Presence in Question. (SUNY Press. July 1993), Lettres et contrats types. (Editions BPI. 1992), Gestion du Personnel. (BPI. 1992), Axiomatique Rosace. (Cartes blanches. 1991), L'Hexaméron. (Seuil. 1990), Au sujet de Shoah. (Belin. 1990), Arrêts fréquents. (A.M. Métailié. 1990), La poésie n'est pas seule. (Seuil. 1988), Le comité : confessions d'un lecteur de grande maison. (Champ Vallon. 1988), Choses de la poésie et affaire culturelle. (Hachette. 1986), Brevets. (Champ Vallon. January 1986), Poèmes II, 1970-1980. (Gallimard. March 1986), Gisants. (Gallimard. 1985), Given giving: Selected poems of Michel Deguy. (University of California Press. 1984), French Poetry Now. (South Head Press. 1984), René Girard et le problème du mal. (B. Grasset. 1982), René Girard et le problème du mal. (Tokyo: Bureau des Copyrights Français. 1982), La Machine matrimoniale ou Marivaux. (Gallimard. 1982), Donnant donnant. (Gallimard. 1981), "Wie Wat; Proza; Het beeld vergeten." in: Eugène Van Itterbeek (Editor & Translator). Dichters en dichtkunst uit Europa. (III). Po_tes et Po_sie d'Europe 1950-1980. (Poets and Poetry from Europe 1950-1980 Louvain: Leuvense Schrijversaktie, 1980), Jumelages suivi de Made in USA. (Seuil. 1978), Reliefs. (d'Atelier. 1975), Poèmes 1960-1970. (Gallimard. 1973), Tombeau de du Bellay. (Gallimard. 1973), Figurations. (Gallimard. 1969), Ouï dire. (Gallimard. 1967), Actes. (Gallimard. 1965), Biefs. (Gallimard. 1964), Le Monde de Thomas Mann. (Plon. 1962), Poèmes de la presqu'île. (Gallimard. 1962), Fragments du cadastre. (Gallimard. 1960), Les Meurtrières. (P. J. Oswald. 1959).