Jean-Paul Klée was born in Strasbourg on June 5, 1943. His father, the philosopher Raymond-Lucien Klée, knew Simone Weil and, in Berlin, Jean-Paul Sartre, whom he introduced to the thought of Husserl. Officer of the British GHQ with André Maurois, he joined General de Gaulle’s fight in 1940. Arrested for Gaullist propaganda at the Versailles high school where he taught, he disappeared at the Struthof concentration camp on April 18, 1944. This event had a great influence on the life and work of the poet.
After studying literature at the University of Strasbourg, Jean-Paul Klée turned to teaching. He published his first poetic collection, L’été l’Eternité in 1970, with a preface by Claude Vigée. A teacher at Saverne from 1971 to 1979, he read all of Alsatian poetry since the beginning of the twentieth century and began to collaborate with numerous journals.
An environmental activist since 1977, he sacrificed ten years of his life to it, but also his teaching career. He engaged in a voluntary crusade against the dangerous Pailleron colleges and high schools. His action with the media on this hidden scandal led to his removal from the National Education in 1991. Married, he divorced ten years later. After brief stays in Paris, he returned to Alsace and shared his writing between Obernai and Strasbourg.
This poet masters all tones: from the funniest to the most vulgar, from the tragic to the sublime. He is as remarkable in poetry as in the pages of his immense diary. His Retour au Struthof (1994) is one of the strongest cries of French poetry since 1945 — an extension of the poem La Crucifixion alsacienne (1970). His style, recognizable among all, is unique in contemporary French poetry: it makes him a great voice of the Francophonie.