Project for Innovative Poetry Blog : Jean-Pierre Rosnay

Jean-Pierre Rosnay [France]


Jean-Pierre Rosnay was born in a Protestant family in Lyon, France on April 8, 1926. His father, was a factory worker, and his mother Violet, died when was only five, and went to live with his aunt until his father remarried. A fragile child, Rosnay learned to fight the neighborhood bullies, something that would remain important throughout his life.

Although his home held few cultural possibilities, his uncle Justin introduced him to poetry, and made him read the classics aloud, since he himself could not read. At the early age of 12, Rosnay left his family, taking refuge on a farm in Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux.

At 15½ Rosnay joined the Resistance Movement. When asked for a pseudonym, he suggested Tom Mix, but fellow fighters chose the name « Baby » for his nom de guerre. Part of the first French group of the Secret Army commanded by General Jean Vallette, Baby first fought in Haute-Loire and Lozère. He also wrote poems and song to boost morale, and was surprised to hear some of their performed over radio.

In 1944 Rosnay was charged with murdering Klaus Barbie, the Gestapo army captain, known as the Butcher of Lyon. Betrayed by friends, he was tortured for four months by the Gestapo before he escaped and joined rejoined another Resistance group. He was seriously injured in one of the attacks and saw numerous friends fall.

After the war Rosnay and friends founded a group dedicated to war poetry, JAR, the Jarvistes, « Young Authors Meeting. » Among the members were George Moustaki, Guy Bedos, and George Brassens. Eventually, Rosnay turned to reading poetry on radio and television, and establishing the famed Poets’ Club, which he emceed, beginning each broadcast with « Good evening friends, good evening! » Eclectic in poetry selection and without poetic hierarchies, its programs offered everything from humorous poems, fables for children, music and spoken word combinations, established poets and unknown figures.

Rosnay published eight collections of poetry, including Rafales, La Foire aux ludions, Comme un bateau prend la mer, poèmes, Les Diagonales, Fragment et relief, and Danger falaises instables. The poet also wrote three novels, essays, and pamphlets.


Rafales (Paris: Éditions IPO, 1950); La Foire aux ludions (Paris: J.A.R., 1951); Comme un beateau prend la mer, poèmes (Paris: Gallimard, 1956); Les Diagonales (Paris: Gallimard, 1960); Fragment et relief (Paris: Club des Poètes, 1994); Femmes [with illustrations by Robert Petit-Lorraine] (Paris: Club des Poètes, 1994); Ab imo pectore: choix de poèmes et 7 inéits (Paris: Alberto Tallone, 1995); Danger falaises instables [illustrations by Sacha Putov] (Paris: Club des Poètes, 2002)

viaThe PIP (Project for Innovative Poetry) Blog: Jean-Pierre Rosnay.