Maturity 1976-2001


As from this date, the manuscripts accumulated during the Pyrenean period begin to appear in Paris at a rapid rate. In the field of prose narrative, Les Limbes incandescents appears in 1976, Dérives in 1978, Lettres de Gourgounel in 1979 ; in that of poetry, Scènes d’un monde flottant comes out in 1976, Terre de diamant in 1977. In addition, he contributes regularly to the influential review, La Quinzaine littéraire, with articles on Artaud, Barthes, Derrida, etc., which cause quite a stir. These articles, in fact essays, will constitute the bulk of the book Une Apocalypse tranquille (1985).


Defends a State doctorate thesis on the theme of « intellectual nomadism », recognized by the jury as opening up a new field of study and research. In order to achieve professorial status in the French University, takes French nationality – without losing his British nationality. Sets up a show in Paris (later relayed to other venues), Le Monde blanc (the white world), for voices, ethnic music and image (film and slides), covering Celtic, Amerindian, Inuit and Asian territory. Leaves on a trip along the north bank of the St-Lawrence into Labrador, which will turn into the book The Blue Road.


Publication of Le Visage du vent d’est, prose, and two poem books, Mahamudra and Le Grand Rivage.


Publication of his first book of essays : La Figure du dehors, which, proposing tracks and itineraries, will become a kind of vademecum for many individuals. Works with the musician Jean-Yves Bosseur on Satie’s Dream, The Sun-Moon Sequence, etc. Exhibition at the Museum of Art in Pau : The Itinerary and Work of Kenneth White. A BBC film, Kenneth White, Nomad is shot in Pau, Paris and Scotland (on the TV screen in 1983).


Leaving the Pyrenees, settles on the north coast of Brittany. Appointed to a newly founded chair of Twentieth-Century Poetics at the Sorbonne. The Labrador book, La Route bleue, published by Grasset, is awarded the Prix Médicis Étranger. Is invited to join the Arts Committee of the new Maison de la poésie in Paris, a post he occupies, but with less and less conviction, up to 1990. Writes the text, with music by Jean-Yves Bosseur, for an oratorio, Vent d’Ouest, le chant d’un monde (West Wind, the Song of a World), staged in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany.


On the road in Japan

Trip to Japan, where he follows Basho’s trail from Tokyo north and continues on into the Hokkaido, a trip which will result in a film, directed by François Reichenbach, Les Chemins du Nord profond (Roads to the Deep North), and a book, Les Cygnes sauvages (The Wild Swans). His long poem, Le Grand Rivage (Walking the Coast) is staged by the Athanor Company (several voices, music by Robin Troman), at Antony, near Paris, later at the Jardin Shakespeare in Paris and at the Edinburgh Festival.


Awarded the French Academy’s Grand Prix du Rayonnement français for the totality of his work. Archives on his work are established at the municipal library of Bordeaux. Publication of Une apocalypse tranquille (A Quiet Apocalypse). A show, De Glasgow à Hong Kong, is staged at the town theatre of Caen, with actors Jacques Gamblin and Louis-Basile Samier


Publication of Atlantica (poems) which is awarded the Prix Alfred de Vigny. Publishes L’Esprit nomade (The Nomadic Intellect), a reworked version of the first part of his thesis. Exhibition at Nimes: Kenneth White, le chemin du haiku (Kenneth White and The Haiku Way). The artist Michel Moy, commissioned by the Maison de la poésie in Paris, directs a film in Brittany: Kenneth White, îles et livres (Kenneth White, Books and Islands), which is awarded the Unesco prize for the best film on literature and poetry.


Invited to Martinique for a lecture. Begins to get very interested in the whole Caribbean archipelago, which he likes to refer to using the old French terminology : the Isles of America. This 1988 trip was to be the beginning of a whole series of Caribbean trips and collaborations (seminar on sea-culture, geopoetics workshop, etc.) Writes texts for a Cantate de la côte océane (Cantata of the Ocean Coast), a show set up by the théâtre du Versant in Biarritz.


After long « exile », renews contact with English language publishing. Publishes The Bird Path, collected longer poems, and Travels in the Drifting Dawn (prose). Second trip to the Isles of America (Guadeloupe, Dominica). Founds the International Institute of Geopoetics, soon to have centres in various countries.


Publishes in Paris Les Cygnes sauvages (The Wild Swans). In Scotland, Handbook for the Diamond Country, collected shorter poems. This meant that his complete poetic work (to date) was now available in this native country. His long poem, « Brandan’s Last Voyage », with music by Jean-Yves Bosseur and images by François Righi, is staged in Edinburgh, followed by London, Glasgow, Dublin and several towns in France. In the field of prose, brings out The Blue Road. Publishes also the first number of the geopoetics review, Cahiers de Geopoetique. Another exhibition is set up at Rennes, later Châteauroux and Brest : L’itinéraire de Kenneth White (The Itinerary of Kenneth White). Meets up with the American jazzman, Steve Lacy, who will set several of his poems to music.


Receives an Honorary D. Litt. from the University of Glasgow. Continues his explorations of the Isles of America : the southern part of the arc


Let’s have some fun

More progress is made in getting his work available in English with Pilgrim of the Void, which brings together two books relating his Asian travels published separately in Paris : The Face of the East Wind (Hong Kong, South China Sea, Taiwan, Thailand) and The Wild Swans (Japan). Does a « radiophonic workshop » with Steve Lacy on the France Culture network. At Fribourg in Switzerland, the Groupe Vocal de France presents Bruit d’ailes (The Noise of Wings), a score for twelve voices written by Eric Gaudibert on the basis of texts by Kenneth White and Blaise Cendrars. Invited by the township of Le Marin (Martinique) on the occasion of a commemoration of the discovery of America, to conceptualize a symposium which he entitles : Du précolombien au postmoderne (From the Precolumbian to the Postmodern).


Publishes Le Plateau de l’albatros (The Plateau of the Albatross) which is his first mapping out of the field of geopoetics. Trip to Corsica, an island in which he is extremely interested, and which he will visit several times. His Corsican meditations will lead to the writing of a book, Corsica, l’itinéraire des rives et des monts(Corsica : Along the Shores, Across the Mountains).


The National Library of Scotland stages an exhibition on his work : White World, the itinerary of Kenneth White, which is later shown in other cities. Publishes a collection of interviews, Coast to Coast. Travels in Italy, Sweden, Norway, Canada. In Italy, receives the Aleramo Prize for his work in poetry. Withdraws from the Chair of Twentieth-Century Poetics at the Sorbonne. Henceforth, while amplifying and deepening his work, he will speak from a university without walls.


A film, Kenneth White, du nomadisme à la géopoétique, produced by the Centre for pedagogical documentation of the department of the Eure, directed by Jean-Paul Cayeux, is shot in Brittany and Paris. Travels and lectures in Serbia, Montenegro, Sweden, Germany, Scotland and Spain. At Málaga, is recognized as « Insigne poeta de la Generación del 27 » , on the occasion of the Spanish edition of Atlantica. Publishes in Paris Les Rives du silence (The shores of Silence), the result of nine years’ work in the poetic field.


Travels and lectures in Poland, Sweden, Scotland and Morocco. Awarded a D. Litt. honoris causa by Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. Publishes in France the book Une stratégie paradoxale (A Paradoxical Strategy), which sums up his socio-political itinerary. Meets the musician Garlo, who will set several of his poems to music. Commences the publication of his essays in English with On Scottish Ground. The French version, adapted and augmented, of the National Library of Scotland exhibition, re-entitled Monde ouvert, l’itinéraire de Kenneth White, begins to circulate in France thanks to the initiative of Emmanuel Dall’Aglio, the president of the newly created association « Les Amis et Lecteurs de Kenneth White ». Awarded the Prix Roger Caillois for his work as a whole.


Travels and lectures in Sweden and in Scotland. Trip to Spain and Portugal. Invited to do geopoetic lectures on the Indian Ocean islands of Reunion and Mauritius. Elected to a three-year fellowship at Edinburgh College of Art : lectures, seminars and creation of a book in collaboration with the artists of the school.


Publishes a new book of poetry in Paris, Limites et Marges. Returns to the Indian Ocean : the Seychelles archipelago. An exhibition of his artist-books (close on a hundred), done in collaboration with painters such as Karel Appel, Zao Wu-ki, Tabuchi, Miotte, Richard Texier, Chan Ky-Yut, Marfaing, Dorny, Baltazar, Jacqueline Ricard, between 1977 et 2000, is held at the Librairie Nicaise in Paris.


Publie House of Tides à Édimbourg. Nommé membre honoraire de la Royal Scottish Academy. Membre du comité directeur de l’Académie mondiale de la poésie fondée sous l’égide de l’Unesco, qui aura une courte vie. Prononce à Édimbourg la conférence-phare de l’International Book Festival : « The Re-mapping of Scotland ». Nouveau voyage dans l’océan Indien (Alphonse et les Amirantes).

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