The story of sonnets in the life of Jacques Roubaud is a long narrative winding through pages and pages of his prose. Often branching off at unexpected angles, it generally loops slowly back upon itself. We read, at the beginning of the prose volume Poésie:,1 how one cloudy day in early December 1994 Roubaud happened to be walking in the neighborhood of the old Bibliothèque Nationale. He had recently got it into his head to make a book of poems about Paris, especially its streets, taking a title from a line and a half in Baudelaire’s “Le cygne,” a poem set in Paris when the Baron Haussmann’s reconstructions were rapidly transforming the city, and the poet felt himself an exile:...

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