The prose of Jean Genet is the closest that any writer can or could hope of coming to poetry. Genet is the archetypal writer's writer, the poet's poet. With him, dull and familiar words appear kinder and one lets oneself be blissfully slaughtered by the dizzy music of his prose.
My first baptism, so to say, with his words was his the thief's journal, perhaps his best book, one that has been called his dichtung und wahrheit. Here Genet tells us all......his foibles, his fears, his music, loves sacred and not so and his real and surreal occupations. Genet was a thief, a convict, he begged and stole, he smuggled, he raved and raged.
He begins the book, his own story by saying that there is a close relationship between flowers and convicts. Then, the language of his life is whispered into the ear at night in a hoarse voice, it is not written down. Genet goes on telling us that he walked along dangerous shores, heard the sea.
Genet's language is never ordinary. It is breathtaking, it is lush, it is green. The language is one of love because he is always in the throes of love. Throughout his oeuvre, we find acts of rebellion, of real resistance for that is what he does. He does not defend his homosexuality for that is sacred eroticism. He is hot for crime. The thief's journal is his poetic testament, the homoerotic temple of words. The language hypnotizes, it weaves a curious garland of roses around ones sense's.
Tragedy, says Genet is a joyous moment . He doesn't want tragedy, he is tragedy and more. He becomes a saint, that is his goal and when he is sacrificed, the blood flows and becomes a tuft of primroses. For Genet stealing flowers to cover coffins is a gesture. Genet ends his adventures and his book by declaring his lyricism, his inner prison. He has discovered one by one the heights he has attained.....through stages of saintliness.......beggar, lover, thief, convict, saint, writer, poet.