Robert Archambeau possesses the world’s least interesting international identity. Of French-Canadian ancestry, he was born in Rhode Island, raised in Canada, and spent summers in Maine or at his father’s art studio on a lake in the Canadian wilderness. An art school brat, he always felt it was inevitable that he would end up making art, or at least movies, but his fate was grimmer still. After a brief stint as a deck hand and grotesquely underqualified ship’s engineer, he fell in with a group of poets and pursued graduate studies in English at the University of Notre Dame. While studying for his PhD, he ran off to Chicago, got married on a sailboat in Burnham Harbor, and worked as a clerk in a secondhand bookstore. Here, sitting at the long counter in the Aspidistra Bookshop, he wrote his doctoral dissertation on Wordsworth, as well as many of the poems that would make up of his first collection of verse, Home and Variations.
After some astonishingly good luck on the academic job market, he became a professor of English at Lake Forest College, in a leafy, absurdly affluent and charming suburb on Chicago’s north shore, much-storied as the hometown of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s smug, villainous Tom Buchanan. At Lake Forest, he taught 19th century British literature, Irish literature, creative writing, and literary theory—taking time when he could to co-teach interdisciplinary courses with colleagues in the art and history departments. He founded and edited a little poetry magazine called Samizdat, which soon suffered the fate common to many such endeavors and died a death of noble neglect: after ten issues, it was no more.
Archambeau lived for a year in Sweden, where he taught at Lund, a medieval university in a cobblestone town a hovercraft-ride away from Copenhagen. While in Lund he met the Swedish writer Göran Printz-Påhlson,whose uncollected works he would edit after thewriter’s death. Back in the United States, Archambeau wrote two scholarly studies of poetry: Laureates and Heretics and Poetry and Uselessness. He also wrote two collections of literary essays, The Poet Resigns and Inventions of a Barbarous Age, and another collection of poems, The Kafka Sutra. He took to writing art criticism, primarily for Hyperallergic, and became a semi-regular contributor to The Hudson Review.
He lives just outside Chicago with his wife and daughter, who indulge him in his various vices: hanging out in art galleries and museums; collecting paintings and antiques; and owning more tweed and vintage Brooks Brothers clothing than any man should.
Regal House Publishing is delighted to bring you his novel Alice B. Toklas is Missing in the fall of 2023.