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Philippe Beck (poet) - France - Poetry International
 
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Philippe Beck
(France, 1963)   
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Philippe Beck

Philippe Beck made his debut in 1996 at the age of thirty-two with the collection Garde-manche hypocrite (Hypocritical Oversleeve).  In 2003, a thoroughly revised version of it appeared, with the title Garde-manche Deux (Oversleeve Two). During the seven years between the two versions, the author published no less than nine collections of poetry; since then, three more have appeared. If you add the extensive intellectual biography Beck l’impersonnage (Beck the Impersonality, 2006) to this list, you cannot avoid the feeling that you are dealing with a really single-minded person. The core of this single-mindedness is perhaps contained in the following statement: "You mustn’t simply say what is but what can be: re-read the past, re-world it, if you like."

Philippe Beck, born on 21 April 1963 in Strasbourg, studied literature and philosophy at the University of Nantes. The philosophical background is certainly not at variance with the thoughtful nature of his poetry. The investigative nature of it too, for Beck always writes in cohesive series, in which a principal idea is varied, supplemented, corrected or revoked from poem to poem. For his Poésies didactiques (Didactic Poems, 2001) Beck kept in mind a statement made by Friedrich Schiller: 'It is waiting for a didactic poem in which the thought itself is and remains poetic.' It is a challenging of language to a duel, a challenge that he began more than ten years ago.

Beck's poems are nearly always comments on earlier texts, sometimes on themselves, mostly on others. The latter, for example, is the case in Chants populaires (Folk Songs, 2007); apart from the 'ouverture' and the 'finale', Beck has retold 72 fairytales originally written down in the Romantic period by the Brothers Grimm. But the poem offers more than a paraphrase – it is charged with associations from a psychoanalytical interpretation, the sociology of literature or the common pool of culture, so that the 'rewritings' take the reader in unexpected directions. The short-hand style, the unusual use of capital letters, the neologisms all slow down the reading, open up the extremely familiar fairytales once more and encourage the reader to elaborate on the proffered material.

© John Fenoghen (Translated by John Irons)

Publications (selection):

Garde-manche hypocrite (1996)
Chambre à roman fusible (1997)
Verre de l'époque Sur-Eddy (1998)
Rude merveilleux (1998)
Le Fermé de l'époque (1999)
Dernière mode familiale (2000)
Poésies didactiques (2001)
Contre un Boileau (1999)
Crude Marivaux (1999)
Aux recensions (2002)
Dans de la nature (2003)
Garde-manche Deux (2004)
Élégie Hé (2005)
Beck, l'impersonnage (2006)
Chants populaires (2007).

Links
Philippe Beck on Lyrikline

[Philippe Beck took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2008.
This text was written on that occasion.]

 




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