The blue-grey words of Julien Baer

The blue-grey words of Julien Baer

We first heard of Julien Baer as a singer (he released four albums with Universal), then we heard that he wrote books for children. Now we’re (re)discovering him writing poetry for older children. These are bittersweet poems, illustrated by his friend Philippe Katerine.

When we read a written text, most of us hear our voice reciting the words. And as Julien Baer sings, we can imagine his timbre, his voice a little dragging like a João Gilberto record, his way of whispering. From page to page, it’s a poetry of almost nothing that unfolds, bitter-sweet.

Portuguese speakers have a word to describe the “melancholy feeling mingled with reverie and a desire for imprecise happiness”: it’s the saudade with which any work of fado or bossa nova worthy of the name must be imperiously sprinkled.

Julien Baer moves between blur and minute detail, focusing on an object, then zooming out to caress a grand concept. There’s nothing serious about it, and yet we sense a real sensitivity, without emphasis or grand statements.

Katerine’s drawings support each text, often giving it an unexpected angle, and this dialogue between text and drawings is very fruitful, making for a sometimes very moving reading of these poems. Let’s hope this collection is the first in a long series.


Julien Baer “Les beaux jours et les autres”, Editions Seghers, Paris, 2024, 199 pages, 19 euros.

Jean-Marc Grosdemouge