[Critique] “Exercises of joy”: despite everything, happiness

Louise Dupré wanted to devote a triptych to the “possibilities of poetry in the face of horror”. Start with Higher than the flames (2010) and continued with The haunted hand(2016), here is its third part with its joy exercises. An almost taboo word unfolds there, joy, in these times of dissolution, carried high, in the heart of his heart, beating the rallying of the living. We recognize here a major work, full of maturity and offered as a culmination.

As if it were still necessary to prove it, here is a work which imposes not only a breath, but also an authentic and particular voice, recognizable from the start, a voice whose vacillation, anxiety and gentleness, immense leniency, voluntary, harnessed to say that she is resolved to fight lamentation.

As in the first two parts, the poetry manifests itself in free verse and prose. We hear “gentleness // as a discipline / of combat // a charity to [s]to do / to [s]yourself. This confidential tone imposes itself through a “you” to which the texts are addressed, a “you” that we hear as the author herself, but also as an address to the reader as well as to the reader, kept in the secret of this unmentionable “joy” sought: “You say joy while thinking catastrophe. You see the sky in flames, the charred clouds, and swarms of birds crashing to the ground, or maybe it’s angels used to watch the children at night. »

And it is without doubt the sweetest battle that we have been given to read for a long time, this claim to ephemeral happiness, which must be defined as survival. The poet is a mother, and she devotes long passages to this profession of holding the child face to face with life, to this urgency to resist for him, to let it be known that the future has a name, an existence. “You don’t want to be forgotten by the sweetness,” she says again, as she also owes it to the child who goes.

No doubt she is right to point out: “You are wary of sentences that could crush the light”, if she wants to carry out her business of living, of saving words, precisely those of “poets capable of recycling a thousand times the words “.

The poet thus poses the essential question of her enterprise: “Is giving meaning to joy an insurmountable ordeal? » This completely luminous collection is the beautiful answer she offers us, which makes her « say that the distress is not insurmountable ». This “vertical wind” that poetry could be is a great response to defeatism, because the poet “belongs[t] to the genealogy of women who have never given up”.

joy exercises

★★★★ 1/2

Louise Dupré, Le Noroît, Montreal, 2022, 144 pages. In bookstores September 6.

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