Learning in Québec

My photo
I'm someone who began learning French when I was 53. I took a BA in French at 60 but wasn't happy with my level of comprehension (though I read very well). So, having really become comfortable with Spanish only by living on the Mexican border, I'm spending more time in Québec and near the border of Quebec, in Vermont, to see if I can do that here with French. I want to encourage others to do the same.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Il y a de la Joie

One thing I do here is write little poems on receipts. (I don’t know why. Not really because the price of paper is high.) The size of the receipt determines the length of the line. The working title for this growing stack of receipt poems is Des Recettes de Quittance (Reçus)

Last night I included some translations from René Char’s Commune Presence, looking for poems that would fit my available receipts. Then this morning on opening the door of the back entrance to find deep snow and snow still falling, I looked for one that would fit the receipt at hand and also fit the beauty of this day, and here it is:

by René Char

How tenderly the earth laughs when she awakens, the snow over her. Day upon day, lying embraced, she cries and laughs. The fire the housewife was putting out barely mattered to the snow.

Comme tendrement rit la terre quand la neige s’éveille sur elle! Jour sur jour, gisante embrassée, elle pleure et rit. La feu qui la fuyait l’ épouse, à peine a disparu la neige.

Joie [p. 70 of Commune Presence, Paris: Gallimard, c1978, June 2003 edition]

[19-02-09, a morning deep in new snow, on receipt from Zone Université Laval (university bookstore),
18-02-09, for notebooks, pushpins, and an unfinished book by Jules Verne, En Magellanie (the first 5 chapters).]

Here are two of my own, from last night also, before I began translating.

Tree trying to sing blues

One of two trees at edge of alley
talks or tries to sing, tonight.
A limb rubs another. A new cold
lets the sound seem musical,
even animal, like someone crying
or someone trying to make a song
in a high register.

The rest of the tree
and the one next
and me below,
we listen.

[18-02-09 on receipt from Bizou/L’Accessoirie Place Ste-Foy,
a pair of mittens for $1.99.]

La Crise Globale Financière?

Le débat a été annulé.
Qui sait pourquoi?

Moi, j’étais ici
pour apprendre
quelque chose.

The debate was cancelled.
Who knows why?

I was here myself
to learn something.

[18-02-09 on receipt from Zellers for tabouret/tool, bought for 7,30$, a price so incredibly good that the check-out attendant could not believe it and made a call to verify. This was the second one I’d bought in 2 days, the second call from the check-out counter. (Here in Ste. Foy today also to see the debate which didn’t happen.) Then to take it home on the bus, carrying the box a few blocks up from René Lévesque Blvd, happy to do so, happy to put it together myself with the little tools included.]

So it’s a great day to stay inside, read, write, but I had to get out in it, come down to the library to post this.

Obama has visited Toronto. Il y a de la Joie!

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of poems on receipts!
    How about you and I getting a book together?
    I have a vision of the front cover. :)


Leave a comment!