Christophe Tarkos
(France, 1963–2004)   
Christophe Tarkos

Born in Martigues in 1963, Christophe, who had not yet selected the name Tarkos, spent his childhood and youth there as well. He then continued his studies in Aix-en-Provence in political science (which did not prevent him from taking courses in literature and philosophy) and successfully completed CAPES (Certificat d’aptitude au professorat de l’enseignement du second degré; a French teaching certification) in economics and social sciences. After becoming a teacher, Tarkos spent several years in various locations, notably in Dunkerque. Meanwhile, and for quite some time already, he wrote and became deeply interested in contemporary poetry, primarily in its engagement with sound, alongside Thierry Aué, a musician and Tarkos’ longtime friend. His first influences were the eclectic trio of Artaud, Blanchot and Beckett, and, for poetry, Gherasim Luca. After returning to Provence in the early 1990s, where he frequented the cipM (Centre international de poésie Marseille), Tarkos decided to give up teaching and to devote himself entirely to poetry.

In Nathalie Quintane and Stéphane Bérard, with whom he stayed in Lardiers, Tarkos found accomplices to appreciate and to share his caustic ferocity and humor, an attribute we later find in each issue of the journal R. R. Shortly afterward, having installed himself in Marseille, ‘Christophe Tarkos’ manifested himself through performances, continuing and realizing the written projects l'oiseau vole (The bird flies) and Processe, which were published thereafter. In fact, for him as well as for many of the contemporary poets gathered in DOC(K)S – a journal in which Tarkos published a number of poems – the writing thrives in performance as much as it does as text, and, along with 20 other examples, a performance such as “la Purée” (The purée) loses a large part of its meaning when amputated from the poem titled “le Compotier” (The fruit bowl). Moving on to Paris, and now living in the company of his future wife, Valerie Tarkos, Tarkos continued to produce such écrit-action (writing-action). In Paris, he met and began to collaborate with Katalin Molnár and Charles Pennequin around the journal Poézie Proléter, which led Tarkos to becoming interested in, as an extension of his work in sound, exploring an orality implemented in semi-improvised performances, such as ‘le Monde Magique’ (The magic world’), ‘Le Bonhomme de merde’ (The snowman of shit), ‘le pneu’ (tire), ‘je ne fais rien’ (i do nothing), "le petit bidon" (the little container) and ‘Je gonfle’ (I blow up).

Simultaneously, the pace of his publications accelerated, often based on the recuperation or the tireless reworking/re-envisioning of very old texts. It is difficult to say what all of this could or should have led up to, as an illness in the early 2000s brought it to an abrupt halt. But without much alteration is that which constitutes the particular profoundness of Tarkos’ oeuvre and produces its remarkable coherence: it is expression, which in any domain and in any format registers as a thought transcending all domains, that also connects literature and the arts, such as poetry, philosophy, mathematics and the sciences, into a single encyclopedia: ‘poetry is an intelligence’.

© Philippe Castellin (Translated by Mia You)


L’oiseau vole, Éditions L’Évidence, Fontanay-sous-Bois, 1995
Morceaux choisis, Éditions Les contemporains favoris, Arras, 1995
Damier, Éditions AIOU, Saint-Étienne-vallé-française, 1996
Le train, Éditions Suel, Berguette, 1996
oui, Éditions Al dante/Niok, 1996
Expressif, Éditions Cactus, 1996
Processe, Éditions Ulysse Fin de Siècle, 1997
Farine, AIOU, 1997
Pupe, Muro Torto, 1997
Le sac, Suel, 1997
Toto, Encyclopédie des images, 1997
Le bâton, Éditions Al dante, 1998
L’hypnotiseur soigne, Éditions Secrètes, 1998
Caisses, P.O.L, Paris, 1998
La valeur sublime, Le Grand Os, 1998
L’argent, Al dante, 1999
La cage, Al dante, 1999
Dix ronds, Contre-Pied, 1999
Je m’agite, Mir-X-presse, 1999
Le pot, Derrière la salle de bain, 1999
Le signe, P.O.L, Paris, 1999
Calligrammes de Caen, École des Beaux-Arts de Caen, 2000
Pan, P.O.L, Paris, 2000
Ma langue, Al dante/Niok, 2000
Anachronisme, P.O.L, Paris, 2001
Expressif, le petit bidon, CD, Éditions Cactus, 2001
Écrits poétiques, P.O.L, Paris, 2008
L’Enregistré, performances / improvisations / lectures, P.O.L, 2014

In English
‘En plongeant un doigt dans l’eau’, trans. Jena Osman, Raddle Moon 16, 1997
Ma Langue est Poétique – Selected Work, ed. Chet Wiener and Stacy Doris, Roof Books, 2000
‘Excerpts from Le signe =,’ trans. Amanda Katz, Germ 5, 2001

Tarkos' profile at cipM
Tarkos reading ‘Le Bonhomme de merde’ in Paris, 1998
Tarkos reading ‘Je gonfle’ in Caen, 1998
Laurent Charpentier’s performance of several Tarkos texts


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