French poet Pierre Martory was born in Bayonne, France, grew up in Morocco, and attended the School of Political Science in Paris. He fled Paris before the Germans arrived and served in the French Army in Morocco during World War II. After the war, he worked as a drama and music critic for Paris-Match and published a novel, Phébus ou le beau marriage (1953). In 1956, he met the poet John Ashbery in Paris; he and Ashbery lived together for nine years, and Ashbery eventually became his English translator.
His collections of poetry include Every Question but One (1990), The Landscape Is Behind the Door (1994), Veilleur de jours (1997), and the posthumous Oh, Lac / Oh, Lake (2008) and The Landscapist: Selected Poems (2008). Martory’s poetry is often associative and surreal, sharing some similarities with the work of Ashbery. Mark Ford, reviewing The Landscapist in the Times Literary Supplement, described how “Martory’s characters and properties frequently appear in some kind of dialogue with their own absence, or gesturing toward vistas, or even a dimension of being, just beneath or beyond the apparent one.”
Martory died in 1998, several years after experiencing a stroke.