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Thibodeau's poetry searches for the exquisite

One, Serge Patrice Thibodeau (Goose Lane), translated by by Jo-Anne Elder.


The original version, Seul on est, won the 2007 Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry in French. Now English readers get to experience this excellent work with One, thanks to a translation by Jo-Anne Elder. Thibodeau searches for "the exquisite," a life of awareness where the beauty, good, belonging and love that the world has to offer is known, revealed. This poet closely observes and details locales and interactions, communicating his thought with brevity and force, while constantly evoking the fascination and physical charge experienced from being in familiar places (the tidal flats of New Brunswick, alongside the Petitcodiac River and its tidal bore, or "mascaret," an Acadian term used in this edition) and faraway (the terrain in and around European cities, Asia and the Middle East). Thibodeau draws from all these places an "inexhaustible geography, a single being." Though his voice verges on the ecstatic, he doesn't gush for global sameness; one is connected to others but is still different. There are places to go, but there is always home to return to. In a nod to the author's home province and "mascaret," each poem is placed on the page in two crosscurrents, with the top four lines running wider and across the page and a second segment with six narrower lines.

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