[Critique] “You will choose the mountains”: loneliness of the word


Andréane Frenette-Vallières received the Félix-Leclerc prize for her first collection, July, the North (Noroît, 2019), and was a finalist for the Émile-Nelligan and Librarians awards in 2020 for Sestrales (northeast). She offers us, with You will choose the mountainshis first poetic essay, the relevant and enriching endnotes of which should also be read.

In a blue house on the North Shore, a voice speaks of a possible development of speech. The road that leads there goes from poetry to the essay, retraces the harassed woman by finding there the means to open up the sense of self: “There was thunder in the blue. The closing doors tested the framework. Our voices led the wickedness but also the firm decision to say. […] / The islands played the white consolation. I took a sharp object and let the rage rain down. It is rage that founds the mutilation of the arms. »

« I’m writing to you from there », confides the poet, from the pain, from the troubled conscience of what led her to seek support in the wind, the water, the quiet hours. The one to whom she writes is called Mona, who will have a voice, an italic style. The other voice, the one printed in roman, is that of the researcher, the anxious seeker of meaning. And this research is not without audacity: “In a context of conjugal violence, before addiction or coercion, there is love. […] After the violent events, all the reason in the world summoned me to reject him altogether—which I was incapable of. This is how a being splits. […] I don’t excuse his behavior. But I need to extract love from violent gestures and inject it elsewhere — that’s why I invented Mona…”

But make no mistake, the style of this essay is very poetic: “Terror speaks on the skin with knives, it hollows out my throat, my blood; she is an insomnia. An earthquake in the being. As evidenced also by this very beautiful title of one of the parts of the collection: « I am looking for a long sentence made of birds ».

Feminist and poetic lucidities also enter into dialogue, creating an exchange marked by the emotional charge of words gifted to pierce the obscure withdrawal of women as soon as they want to speak. This book is a cry above the sea, an inner cry to awaken self-knowledge.

Here and there one could wink at certain formulas, such as: “the enunciation of the I brings me back to the felt”; or in front of certain convoluted formulations: “What I am writing to you is the trace of this unresponsive frenzy of the hands. “Very useless deviations which diminish our pleasure a little. Moreover, it seems that the poet’s quest finds some answer to her frenzy: “The imaginary hermit reappropriates materiality. […] The pebbles and the earth rise up and respond. The recluse breathes again. And gives himself this test to start living again.

The author will be at the collective launch of Noroît on November 23 and will hold a signing session on November 25 at the SLM.

You will choose the mountains

★★★ 1/2

Andréane Frenette-Vallières, Le Noroît “Crossroads”, Montreal, 2022, 208 pages

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