Couteau is a visual
artist from Brooklyn. He's also the author of the novel Doctor Pluss; the
literary anthology Collected Couteau, the epistolary memoir Letters
from Paris, and the poetry collection The Sleeping Mermaid. In 1985
he won the North American Essay Award, a competition open to North American writers
and sponsored by the American Humanist Association. After living in Paris for
twelve years (1988-2000), he now resides in the Mid-Hudson Valley, where he writes
and paints. He recently completed a collection of essays and literary interviews
with other authors titled More Collected Couteau and a memoir, Wonder:
a trilogy of over eight hundred pages.
work as a literary critic, interviewer, and social commentator has been featured
in books such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 'Love in the Time of Cholera':
A Reader’s Guide, by Thomas Fahy, Conversations with Ray Bradbury,
ed. Steven Aggelis, and David Cohen’s Forgotten Millions, a book about
the homeless mentally ill.
In his Introduction to More Collected Couteau,
author James Demsey writes: "Having spent many years as a journalist, I believe
I have some ability to recognize and admire an artful interviewer, and Couteau
is a master. His preparation is comprehensive, meticulous, and profound. His understanding
of the process of writing in so many genres allows him insights into the particular
problems faced by the writers he interviews…. You'll also find herein Couteau's
writings on literature, which I hesitate to call criticism since they lack the
worst features of much literary criticism, which can be clogged with so much pretentiousness,
cant, and philosophical obfuscation that it would take a plunger of Brobdingnagian
proportions to restore a healthy flow. Couteau's essays are often rhapsodic appreciations
and evocations of the work under study, and are stuffed with both insights and
a review of The Sleeping Mermaid for the Midwest Book Review, Willis
M. Buhle says: “Novelist and literary enthusiast Rob Couteau brings readers part
of his love with The Sleeping Mermaid, a book of flowing poetry and thought
that asks plenty of questions and offers plenty of answers. The Sleeping Mermaid
is a poetry collection well worth considering.” And
in an Introduction to the book, the biographer Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno writes
of how the author’s “poetic excursions take us to many places: to the Paris of
Rimbaud and Picasso, to the Native North Americans, to mythology and history and
how the woman he is encountering is seducing him as he seduces her (and us), and
finally, how alone, the cosmos plays itself out at 3 a.m. when the only lap dog
Jim Feast, in his Evergreen Review essay on Doctor Pluss and Collected
Couteau, remarks upon the author's “Intellectual freshness, richness, and
potency,” adding: “An impressively creative writer, whom Barney Rosset urged me
to review.” Rosset, the former owner of Grove Press and the first American publisher
of Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, and Jean Genet, led the legal battle to publish
D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.
As a visual artist, Couteau works primarily in oil.
His paintings explore variations on the female nude and are inspired by working
directly with a model. Several of his larger-than-lifesize nudes were exhibited
at the Varga Gallery in Woodstock, New York, from September 2009 to March 2010.
August 2011 to May 2012, Couteau completed "Eighty-seven Variations on Titian's
'Venus of Urbino,'" a series of paintings and drawings that attempt to reinterpret
this single Renaissance masterpiece.
In 2009, he devoted a year to reinterpreting
the work of Picasso. The complete collection is composed of 67 oil paintings,
150 works on paper, and 16 sculptures in terra cotta. The Van Buren Gallery in
New Paltz hosted his one-man show, “A Year with Picasso: A Reinterpretation of
Major and Minor Works,” which ran from January 9, 2010 to February 21, 2010.
The exhibit featured a reading by Amanda Levin from Couteau's potery collection,
The Sleeping Mermaid, which includes several poems portraying specific Picasso
of December 2015, Couteau is represented by the Roshkowska Galleries.
* Unison Gallery, New Paltz, NY. “Atmosphere (Mini-Works).”
Group show, 31 August - 28 September 2009.
* Varga Gallery, Woodstock, NY.
Group show, 12 September 2009 - 12 March 2010.
* Van Buren Gallery, New Paltz,
NY. “A Year with Picasso: A Reinterpretation of Major and Minor Works,” 9 January
- 21 February 2010.
* poems from the late
twentieth century. (This chapbook is now part of the Special Collections of
New York University, Yale University Library, Colby College, Michigan State University
Libraries, Northwestern University, and UCLA Library.)
* Doctor Pluss.
* Collected Couteau: Poems, Letters, Essays, Interviews.
* Letters from Paris
* The Sleeping Mermaid.
With an Introduction by Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno.
* Portraits from the
Revolution. Interviews with the Protestors from Occupy Wall Street, 30 Spetmeber
- 8 October 2011.
Collected Couteau: Essays and Interviews. With an Introduction by James Dempsey.
* Wonder (forthcoming). With an Introduction by Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno.
of these books are now part of New York University's Fales Library and Special
Collections section, indexed in the "Downtown Writer's" archive.
Writing Published in Periodicals:
Couteau’s work has appeared
in over thirty-five magazines, newspapers, and literary journals, including The
Alembic; Anima; Arete; Bloomsbury Review; Blueline; Cadillac Cicatrix; Chrysalis;
Colere; Confluent Educational Journal; Croton Review; The European; Footwork;
The Garden State; Emerging Civil War; Evergreen Review; Hawaii Pacific Review;
Heavenbone; The Humanist; Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy; Lapis; Lift Magazine;
Mochila Review; New Leaves Review; Occupy the Press; Occupy Wall Street Poetry
Anthology; Open Road Integrated Media; Out of Our; The Paris Voice; Passager;
Psychological Poems: Journal of Outsider Poetry; Quantum; Rain Taxi; Rockhurst
Review; Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture; Venice Magazine; Versitude;
West Hills Review; White Pelican Review; Xanadu; and Z Miscellaneous.
Interviews with Other Authors:
* Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno:
“The Biographer of Paul Bowles and Other Expatriates Talks about Writing the Outsider’s
Story: An Interview with Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno,” Bloomsbury Review,
March 1991, and later featured in Collected Couteau.
* Ray Bradbury:
“The Romance of Places: An Interview with Ray Bradbury,” Paris Voice, November
1990; Quantum: Science Fiction & Fantasy Review, spring 1991; and Nelson
Thornes Framework English Resource Book 2, ed. Geoff Reilly and Wendy Wren
(Cheltenham, (U.K.: Nelson Thornes Ltd., 2003). The complete interview was featured
in Conversations with Ray Bradbury (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi,
2004) and in Collected Couteau.
* Hubert Selby: “Defining the
Sacred: Hubert Selby on Spirituality, the Creative Will, and Love,” Rain
Taxi Review of Books (online), December 1999. The complete interview later
appeared in Collected Couteau.
* Albert Hofmann: “Albert Hofmann:
An Appreciation. A Brief Interview with the Discoverer of LSD,” Rain Taxi Review
of Books, June 2008.
* Michael Korda: “The Charmed Life: A Conversation
with Michael Korda,” Rain Taxi Review of Books (online), summer 2010.
* Jeffrey H. Jackson: “Remembering the Deluge: An Interview
with Jeffrey H. Jackson,” Rain Taxi Review of Books (online), December
* Robert Roper: “An Interview with Robert Roper, Author of Now
the Drum of War: Walt Whitman and His Brothers in the Civil War,” Emerging
Civil War (online), October 2011.
* William Scott: “An Interview
with William Scott, Author of Troublemakers: Power, Representation, and the Fiction
of the Mass Worker,” tygersofwrath.com, October 2011.
* Justin Kaplan:
“The Mystery of the Man: Justin Kaplan Talks about America’s Greatest Poet,”
tygersofwrath.com, December 2011.
* Robert J. De Sena: “The Miracle
of Unity. Peace Mediator Robert J. De Sena Discusses How He Offers Gang Members
a Way Out,” tygersofwrath.com, September 2014.
* Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno:
“When Feeling is First.' A Conversation with Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno About
E. E. Cummings's Prose Masterpiece, The Enormous Room,” tygersofwrath.com,
* Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno: “Paying Attention.
Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno Discusses His New Book of Poems, The Mussoorie-Montague
Miscellany,” tygersofwrath.com, February 2015.
* James Dempsey: “An
Interview with Biographer James Dempsey, Author of The Tortured Life of Scofield
Thayer,” tygersofwrath.com, July 2015.
* Robert Roper: “A Conversation
with Robert Roper, author of Nabokov in America: On the Road to Lolita,”
tygersofwrath.com, August 2015.
Role of the Least-Aspected Planet in Astrocartography. Planetary Symbolism in
Astrocartography and Transcendental Astrology’’ (Reviewed in the Mountain
Astrologer.) ISBN 0-9801880-0-8
Publications by Author Rob Couteau. The Official Web Site.
of Portraits from the Revolution, Midwest Book Review, by Diane Donovan,
24 radio interview with Rob Couteau on the death of Ray Bradbury, June 2012.
* Review of The
Sleeping Mermaid, Midwest Book Review, by Willis M. Buhle, August
the Sacred: Hubert Selby on Spirituality, the Creative Will, and Love.” Couteau’s
interview with Hubert Selby.
the Palette: Rob Couteau.” Interview with Rob Couteau, HV Biz, 1 March
Bets for Sunday.” Review of “A Year with Picasso,” Times Herald Record,
14 February 2010.
of Rob Couteau at the Van Buren Gallery,” DWX blogspot, by Dan Wilcox,
7 February 2010.
of Doctor Pluss and Collected Couteau in the Evergreen Review,
by Jim Feast, December 2009.
Robert Couteau. Un americain a Paris,” by Alice Gaillard, Netsurf. Le magazine
Internet, May 1998. Interview of Rob Couteau, in French, conducted in Paris.