The Stone Lantern

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Trois Rivieres Poetry Festival (v.o.a.)

Last week I was in Trois Rivieres, Quebec as a guest poet for that town’s 22nd International Poetry Festival. Poets of haiku and of other forms of poetry often tend to go their separate ways, so it was nice to see that the FIP embraces a mix of poets. (Of course, many, many poets write both longer poems and haiku.)

I don’t know how other poetry festivals are organized, but in Trois Rivieres, in addition to the various conferences and late night readings in bars, guest poets also are assigned restaurants in which to perform either lunch or dinner readings, sometimes both. Some diners come specifically for the event, but others are surprised to learn that their mealtime entertainment is neither music nor football nor CNN but poetry.

I must have done about six readings in three days. My favorite was at this great little Italian restaurant, Angéline. (Not only is the food authentic, but in the bathrooms they pipe in Italian language lessons instead of muzak.) We were five who read at Angéline’s, in a mix of languages: Luis Aguilar (Mexico); Bernard Ascal (France); Jean-Marc Desgent (Quebec); Jean Loubry (Belgium); Les Wicks (Australia); and me (U.S.A.). Between readings, Luis and I compared notes on how we write poetry; I tried to convince Bernard Ascal that he is a haiku poet at heart; and Les Wicks and Jean-Marc Desgent discussed translating poetry.

My life as a haiku poet in North America is easy. What does one say to someone as courageous as Ferhat Mehenni, who must struggle simply for the right to sing poetry in his native Kabyle language and who has paid the price in blood? And if we who write haiku in North America sometimes feel it is tough for us to get recognition as “real” poets, think of the challenge Cai Tianxin faces as a writer of free verse in China, where everyone has been taught since childhood that classical Chinese poetry is the only “real” Chinese poetry. But I am just scratching the surface here.

in the wind
a field of reeds
bends as one

-- Abigail Friedman

3 Comments:

  • Quand j'ai passé hier à la Vieille Prison, j'ai vu qu'il y a eu un événement, organisé par Amnestie International, sur les poètes en prison - et j'en fus très touchée. C'est très bien que tu aies couvert cet aspect-là dans ton blogue.

    Ton haïku est magnifique.

    salutations cordiales

    Monika

    By Anonymous Monika, at 7:07 PM  

  • Merci Monika. C’est dommage que je n’ai pas pu participer au lancement hier de La Nuit des Gueux. Je suis sûr que c’était un grand succès!

    By Blogger stonelantern, at 8:33 PM  

  • beautiful haiku...

    By Blogger Jennifer, at 8:53 PM  

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