Roman Feuilleton reading

The Roman Feuilleton reading is in Gatineau tonight. It is poetry in response to Michèle Provost’s art which will be displayed at the Centre d’exposition l’Imagier, 9 Front Street, Gatineau (Aylmer), QC.
The show ROMAN FEUILLETON (“Serial Novel”) is based on a surrealist text which Provost herself has composed out of lines from 4 of Québec’s literary landmarks; Anne Hébert’s Kamouraska, Michel Tremblay’s La grosse femme d’à côté est enceinte, Réjean Ducharme’s L’avalée des avalés, and Une saison dans la vie d’Emmanuel, by Marie-Claire Blais.
She took the lines from the novels in French, alphabetized them by the first word of the sentence, collated them alphabetically, translated them to English.
Always interested in seeing how others will interpret her work, her ideas and the sources which inspire her, Provost has challenged a group of writers and poets from across the local literary community to use her ROMAN FEUILLETON text – French and English versions – as the basis from which to create literary art of their own.
Cameron Anstee and Grant Wilkins were in studio with Susan Johnston and Monique Desnoyers by phone this morning. Listen in starting at 20 minutes into the show listen to the 3 writers on Friday Special Blend here.
Grant looked at the interpretations thru translations. Monique took the approach from storytelling. Cameron went from CanLit perspective of poor translation to English of French Canadian literature, speech and silence shuffled. You can hear samples.
Each takes their own tack. The source texts are hundreds of pages in French and in English.
English and French poets responding to the work of Michèle Provost include: Glenn Nuotio, Monique Desnoyers, Lise Rochefort, Sandra Ridley, Pearl Pirie, Grant Wilkins, Cameron Anstee, Carmel Purkis, Guy Jean and Amanda Earl.
For myself, I worked from the French text and pretended I was hearing English spoken through a bad connection. I was doing homophonic translation of a few letters of Michèle’s French version of text but still the slant came thru and the novel syntax. I’m not sure how many pages it yielded for me but the short list was about 17 poems of ones to pursue.
The vocabulary came towards the original and away again like a game of whispers.
I started inverting things as well; gender flipping, god-excising, antonymizing (tired to energetic, hatred to compassion) and adding interjections as well so that made content more agreeable.
For example here is the starting text of one section:

Moi, je le trouve très joli homme, de taille moyenne, bien proportionné, des favoris noirs, le teint brun coloré. Mais Mastaï avait gardé le gros coup pour la fin, comme d’habitude. Mon Dieu! …je me sens défaillir de rage et il perd sa dignité d’un seul coup en faisant pipi partout sur les murs. Mon âme pour que cela n’arrive pas une seconde fois! Mastaï bondit littéralement sur le téléphone et compose un numéro. Mon insolence, ma facilité à collaborer à l’élaboration de sa démonstration le rassurent. Mon père, je me roule dans la fange !

Moi became moths
je le trouve became the reprove which became the reproach
tres joli homme became the trees, jellybeans
de taille moyyenne could have been detail oyying or the tale moulding
bien proportionné des favoris noire became bean portioned, the favorite noire which became the beans were portioned out, doled out, and the favorite ones were black.
in the end, if this is is it’s end point, this got a title and looks like this:

visiting Jolene Schmoe
moths are the reproach
of trees and of jellybeans.
their tales are dusty and mouldy,
their magic beans already doled.
the favourites were liquorice
and the brown-tinted orange.
hard things, like raw carrots, chewed once
guards the whole body twice.
what all are among blows against death
and against lock-stepped routine?
the moths putter, jimmy open
your senses by making strange
contemplating for a few flaps
in this purgatory of disarray.
she flies with the dignity of Pippi Longstocking,
murmurs something too quiet to catch.
she rests in my Kuala Lampur’s cellar,
continually arrives to chew me free of bonds.
literally on the phone, the moth
composes a number: one.
the moth is singular and helps me
elaborate on what I need.
she demonstrates self-assurance
and refuses the solitude of the room.
moth, we are a couple. let’s roll over
in the beds of each other’s mouths.

The event tonight is co-run with A B Series as the last event of the season.
The art show at L’Imagier is created with Provost’s trademark combination of the visual and the textual effusion. It comes in the form of a promotional campaign for a series of literary works. Comprising books, magazines, games, a recorded radio-play coming out of speakers around the room, there are also many other promotional items created in her intimately handmade and tangibly material style of stitch-work, fabric and paper craft.
The title comes from roman-feuilleton which is serial novel is a popular novel published in episodes in a newspaper.
A feuilleton is a type of journalistic fiction that is often humorous and satirical. The feuilleton is topical and deals with a variety of subjects. It is written without a preconceived plan and is free in structure. It parodies literary and nonliterary genres and styles. It is unique in that it is both literary and journalistic in its aims and its approach to facts.
Come and see what comes out of this iteration. With any luck, there will be a second iteration this fall in Ontario.

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