After a couple of uneventful flights from EDI and LHR I landed at Montreal, and was picked by our driver, Michelle. She also gather up Rachel Rose, from British Columbia, and we set off on the 2 hour drive to Trois-Riviéres, arriving around midnight at the hotel (Hotel de Gouverneurs).
My first reading was at noon in the Restaurant A Four au bois, and here I encountered the Trois-Riviéres readings format for the first time. Most of the readings were in restaurants and bars – a selection below:
I hadn’t encountered this format before, but it was rather pleasant to have lunch, breaking off to listen to fellow readers or to do my own thing. It would only work in a culture used to dining out a lot, so I can’t see it transferring easily to Scotland. This was where I met the poets I was to read with during the succeeding days. The only poet I had met previously was Pia Tafdrup, from Denmark, who has read at StAnza, and I was delighted to renew our friendship.
During the week I read with a large number of poets, international and local. Here’s the list:
José Acquelin (Quebec); Nora Atalla (Egypt/Quebec); Maria Baranda (Mexico); Louis Bertholom (France); Jacques Boulerice (Quebec); Leandro Calle (Argentina); Magda Carneci (Romania); Yolanda Castaño (Galicia); Guy Cloutier (Quebec); Roxane Desjardins (Quebec); Stephané Despatie (Quebec); Roger Des Roches (Quebec); Jean-Luc Despax (France); Bios Diallo (Mauretania); Veronika Dintinjana (Slovenia); Isabelle Dumais (Quebec); Isabelle Duval (Quebec); Aleksandr Frolow (Russia); Mohamed Miloud Gharrafi (Morocco); Katia Grubisic (Quebec); Dominique Hecq (Australia); Tade Ipadeola (Nigeria); Sylvain Janneteau (Quebec); Katica Kulavkova (Macedonia); Alfredo Lavergne (Chile); Pontus Lindh (Sweden); Renaud Longchamps (Quebec); Ginette Andrée Poirier (Quebec); Thiago Ponce de Moraes (Brazil); Aleyda Quevedo Rojas (Ecuador); Jean Royer (Quebec); Lisa Robertson (Canada/France); Rachel Rose (British Columbia); Manuel Becerra Salazar (Mexico); Carolyn Marie Souaid (Quebec); Pia Tafdrup (Denmark); Tugrul Tanyol (Turkey); Michaël Trahan (Quebec); Simon Philippe Turcot (Quebec).
The atmosphere during the festival was warm and friendly, with all poets meeting up informally to talk and socialise. I had started to learn French specifically to attend the festival, and the total immersion technique worked well. I had brought 32 poems translated into French, and the normal procedure is to have someone read the French version first, and then the poet reads in their native tongue. At the first reading I asked our animator if she would read my French versions, but by the second reading that day I had decided, in a moment of confidence (perhaps over-confidence) to read my own French versions, as well as to read in English. It gave me such an adrenaline rush that I did that at all subsequent readings, apart from the prestige one, the Grande Soirée Québecor de la Poésie in the Maison de la Culture.
This is us on the steps inside the Hotel de Ville, before that reading.
Copyright © Terry Charland
I flew back on the Monday, arriving home on Tuesday, exhausted but very happy. It was a wonderful experience.