Site officiel d'Alain Borer
Site officiel d'Alain Borer
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Poète, critique d’art, essayiste, romancier, dramaturge, écrivain-voyageur, rimbaldien


Alain Borer (born 1949), is a French poet and writer. He has been a Professor at the École supérieure des beaux-arts de Tours since 1979, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, since 2005. He currently resides in the French town of Chaumussay, in Touraine. In 2008, he was awarded the prestigious 70th Apollinaire prize for Icare & I don’t (Seuil). Prix Apollinaire (French).


The name of Alain Borer is associated with that of Arthur Rimbaud, to whom he has devoted thirty years of his life. Aged 17, Alain Borer directed Le Bateau ivre, a student journal at the Institut Florimont in Geneva ; aged 27 he travelled to Harar in Ethiopia (the same age as Rimbaud was when he arrived here) as part of a film-making expedition with Léo Ferré (the film Le Voleur de feu was aired on French television in 1978). Alain Borer is the author of two books which have become classic references in Rimbaud studies; an album-book Un sieur Rimbaud, se disant négociant, with Philippe Soupault (Lachenal & Ritter, 1984), and his combined essay and travel journal Rimbaud en Abyssinie (Fiction & Cie, 1984, et Points-Seuil, 2004). Aged 37 (the age of Rimbaud’s death), Alain Borer completed his book publications on the man with the " soles of wind "; Adieu à Rimbaud and L’Œuvre-vie, 1991, is an original monument of a publication marking the centenary of Rimbaud’s death and which sheds considerable new light upon Rimbaud’s universe, and which breathed considerable life into scholarship on the poet.

On reading the entirety of Rimbaud’s work (the " rimbaldothèque ") Alain Borer is not only the first to have traced the physical footsteps of Rimbaud’s world journeys (in what he has termed the " Rimbaldie "), but also to have developed and forged the necessary concepts (the paradigm of the Œuvre-Vie, " the major signifier ") permitting him to theorize and unlock the secrets of " this wild parade " (Rimbaud, l’heure de la fuite, Gallimard, 1991, with an introduction by Hugo Pratt).

Alain Borer is also a novelist (Koba, Seuil, collection " Fiction & Cie "), art critic (Dürer, 1980, Chambord, Monum, Hugo Pratt, Casterman), particularly on Joseph Beuys (Joseph Beuys, published by the Centre Pompidou, 1994, and La Bibliothèque des Arts, Lausanne, 2001), essayist (Saint-Martin ou la coupabilité, musée de Tours), playwright (Paul des oiseaux, Le Chant du Rien visible, Fourbis, Le Quadrige invectif, Le cercle d’art, 2005, assembled together in Icare & I don’t, Seuil, 2007), and world traveler and travel-writer (Sarajevo, Gallimard, Liberia, Michalon, Los Angeles, Phébus, Pacific Palisades, writings about which are due to be published by Seuil).

As a poet (Pour l’amour du ciel, CD Radio France, the Poétiques Collection), Alain Borer is joined by André Velter and Zéno Bianu in the Groupe Actéon. The group has three major preoccupations: an astrophysical obsession with " extreme travel " (Le Nuage de Magellan, Zone bleue), a " pataphysical " dimension (Bestiaire, Alexandrins fortuits), as well as poetic texts stripped to their bare essentials, which they have termed " noems " (Jeil, 2004, Loups plats, 2006).

After François Coupé (1973), Alain Borer has made " book-objects " collages (Calme, 1987), and numerous books in collaboration with artists (for example, on Touareg jewellery with Kaïdin), which he signs off under the pen name " Jaseur boreal ". An exposition of his photographs, La Sanglinière, was presented in the château de Tours in April 2007.

It is poetry, however, which infiltrates all of Alain Borer’s writings. His latest work, Icare & I don’t (Seuil, 2007), " a metaphysical vaudeville ", illustrates this rare alliance of poetry and wit, of lightness and depth, whose tone should give life to works of " allegro serioso " - a program about which Roland Barthes wrote: " With you, the art of living and the art of writing merge ". His work includes a number of prefaces to books and art catalogues, book collaborations and collaborative reviews; a recent catalogue [G. Tran Din Mahe, 2008] lists approximately one thousand publications by one hundred publishers, in addition to forty television programs (Apostrophes in 1984 et Bouillon de culture in 1991), about a hundred radio shows (principally on France Culture), two hundred and fifty conferences and public lectures in one hundred different towns and thirty universities in about thirty countries. His work is the subject of more than six hundred press articles.

Selected publications


Rimbaud in Abissinia, New York, William Morrow, 1991

The Essential Joseph Beuys, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1997


Koba, Éditions du Seuil. «Fiction & Cie», 2002 (winner of 2003 Kessel prize)


Icare & I don’t, Éditions du Seuil, 2007 (winner of 2008 Apollinaire prize)

Richard Mille, Le Cercle d’Art, 2005


Rimbaud en Abyssinie, Éditions du Seuil, «Fiction & Cie», 1984, re-published in 1991, Points-Seuil, 2004

Un sieur Rimbaud, se disant négociant, With Philippe Soupault, Arthur Aeschbacher and François Margolin, Lachenal & Ritter, 1984 (winner of the Académie Française Essay prize, 1985) ; Re-published by Le Livre de Poche, Hachette, 1989, under the title, La Terre et les pierres

Rimbaud d’Arabie, Éditions du Seuil, «Fiction & Cie», 1991

Rimbaud, l’heure de la fuite, introduction by Hugo Pratt, Découvertes-Gallimard, 1991, re-published in 2001

Rimbaud, by Enid Starkie, translation, preface and notes, Flammarion, 1982, re-published in 1989

Œuvre-vie, Édition du centenaire, Arléa, 1991

Bouts rimés d’Arthur Rimbaud, drawings by Michel Gérard, the «Muro Torto» Collection, Rome, Villa Médicis, 1980

Je me ressouviens, Fnac & Institut du Monde Arabe, 1991

«Nothing de Rimbe», Intervention / image by Ernest Pignon-Ernest, AREA, 1986, nouvelle édition La Nuée bleue, 1991

Le lieu et la formule, Mercure de France, 1999


Déploration de Joseph Beuys, Bibliothèque des Arts, Lausanne, 2001

Chambord Les trois corps de Chambord, photographies de Dominic Hofbauer, Monum, éditions du patrimoine, 2006

L’Œuvre-vie d’Hugo Pratt et son empire perdu : Éthiopie, La trace du scorpion, Casterman, 2005


François Coupé, SAFC-Encres Vives, 1973

Bestiaire, «Les Poquettes volantes», Collection La Louvière (Belgium), Daily-Bul, 1979

Le Nuage de Magellan, I, gouaches by Georges Badin, Musée de Céret, 1980

Le Nuage de Magellan, II, collages by Peter Briggs, Bruxelles, Bibliothèque Phantomas, 1983

Zone bleue, La Chevelure de Bérénice ; Le Nuage de Magellan, extract III, drawings by Barbara von Thaden, Lachenal & Ritter, 1984

Les Très Riches Heures de Chuck Berry, photomontages by Joël Hubaut, Éditions de la C.R.E.M., 1991

Départs arrêtés, watercolors by Jean-Claude Vignes, Aréa, 1995

Jeil, noèmes, Interventions de Pierre Zanzucchi, L’Échelle, Hôtel Beury, 2000

Carte mère, noèmes, Vice-versa, 2002

Loups plats, illustrated by Pierre Antoniucci, Georges Badin, Peter Briggs, Alain Gauvin, Christian Jaccard, Jacques Vimard, Pierre Zanzucchi, Rencontre, 2006


Paul Verlaine, told by Alain Borer. Cassettes Radio France, 1979

Arthur Rimbaud, told by Alain Borer. Texts read by Laurent Terzieff, cassettes Radio France, 1978 and 1989

Le Voleur de feu, Film directed by Charles Brabant. With Léo Ferré, TF1, 1978 and 1986

Sur les terrasses de Rimbaud, Film directed by Saad Salman, Paris, Les Productions de La Lanterne, 1990

Pour l’amour du ciel, Texts read by Alain Borer (book CD), Cassettes Radio France, 1996


Le Reste à voir, Hôtel Beury, L’Échelle, March 2006

La Sanglinière (photographies), Château de Tours, 29 March - 27 April 2007