De temps en temps

 Pierre Albert-Birot (1876 - 1967)
Flora Klee-Pàlyi
Pierre Albert-Birot, 'Moulin à poèmes', in: Deux poèmes (1955)

In 1953, Pierre Albert-Birot began a series of New Year's poems under the title De temps en temps. Until his death, he sent one or more poems a year to his friends. Like his earlier works, he published them himself. This is why the series takes up a special place in his oeuvre, because after the war most of his work was printed and published by others.

Visual typography

Because he typeset the texts himself, he could turn them into visual poems at will, like Moulin à poèmes (mill of poems), for which the reader must turn either his head or the sheet to read it, or the poems of Silex, poèmes des cavernes (1945). These have been aligned at the right and left, while the lines have no spaces, resulting in unconventional word divisions such as Pierr-e.

There is much variation in the New Year's poems. Although as a rule punctuation is missing and most poems lack both metre and rhyme, there is one poem, Le peigne d'écaille, with a rhyne scheme and a syllabic structure. The poems differ in length and have been published in different formats; one is printed on blue paper.

Among friendly poets

The leaflets were published from 1953 to 1959 and are numbered one to five (that of 1957 is unnumbered and the one for 1956 is missing). They were acquired, together with other documents, with a copy of Les poètes amis (1947), a small collection of poems by eight poets, most of whom have by now been forgotten. All pages of this collection have a different lay-out: the title is in different places (for instance at the bottom or in the middle of a page) and there is a poem with a decorated initial at the beginning of the last line.

The initial was decorated by Flora Klee-Pàlyi (1893-1961). A German national, she was born in Hungary, and devoted herself to illustrations and translations. In her sketches, she suggests speed by drawing body parts twice; many of them seem unfinished because the characters do not always have hands and feet.

In the period during which this edition was made, Abert-Birot had his 'Grabinoulor-dinners'. These had started in 1936 at the initiative of Jean Follain, who wanted to end Albert-Birot's isolation after the death of his second wife, Germaine de Surville. Amidst some twenty-five friends, Albert-Birot would read a piece from Grabinoulor, after which it was discussed.

  • Les poètes amis (1947), p. [10]-[11]

Bibliographical description

De temps en temps / [poèmes de Pierre Albert-Birot]. - Paris : Sic, 1953-1959. - 5 vouwbladen. Bijlage bij: Les poètes amis / [poèmes de Pierre Albert-Birot ... et al. ; ill. par Flora Klee-Pàlyi]. - [S.l. : s.n.], [ 1947]. - [24] p. : ill. ; 30 cm.


  • Arlette Albert-Birot, 'L'image est le baiser du poète' in: Le cahier du refuge, 183 (2009), p. 9-16
  • Debra Kelly, Pierre Albert-Birot: A poetics in movement, a poetics of movement. Madison, Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1997
  • Marie-Louise Lentengre, Pierre Albert-Birot, l'invention de soi. Paris, Place, 1993
  • Hans Vollmer, Allgemeines lexikon der bildenden Künstler des XXe Jahrhunderts. Leipzich, Seeman, 1953