49th Shelf Most Anticipated Spring 2016 Poetry Selection
There’s a real fascination with fathers in Québécoise literature, and this recurring persona populates fiction, films, and the stories people tell of their families and themselves. Thus, it’s not surprising that, as he witnessed his own father’s growing frailty, François Turcot-one of Quebec’s most celebrated young literary voices-would write his own dedication to his vanished father, entitled My Dinosaur. In this, his first collection of poems to be published in English (and translated by renowned poet Erín Moure), Turcot pays tribute not just to the father, but also to the figure of the son, and to writing itself as key to story, emotion, memory, and history.
With luminous and lucid writing, Turcot excavates the fossil gaze of his father in an elated elegy composed of poems both tensed and open, minimalist and talkative, serious and droll, alternating the voice and writings of the father with the fictions and assemblies of the son-reminding us that a man’s story can only be told by assembling the shreds and bits that have been accumulated over the course of our lives.
As a prolonged metaphor for the endurance of memory, Turcot’s meticulous assembly in My Dinosaur is a tribute to all our Dads.
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Praise for Mon dinosaure:
“Mon dinosaure offers a strong reading experience, Borgesian in a way, where form, robust and demanding, combines with content both humble and sensitive, hold up in an awareness of the volatility and memory of things.” —Sébastien Dulude, Lettres québécoises
“This kind of work is magnificent. Here’s a well-constructed book that not only offers itself the pleasure of speaking of the life beyond death, but establishes a dialogue between lost loves.” —Hugues Corriveau, Le Devoir
“Assembled using a variety of materials (prose, verse, letters), Mon dinosaure catalogues a sort of Father-constellation, fragmented into several utterances of memories filtered by a type of poetry which weighs up its effects and fears boastfulness more than anything…. More than just a book on the father figure, Mon dinosaure highlights the essential share of fiction that fuels and shapes memory.” —Dominique Tardif, Voir
“François Turcot speaks of the death of the father in Mon dinosaure, a singular book that opts for a poetic approach which is both stimulating and original.” —Denise Brassard, Voix et images
“Throughout this magnificent collection, we find fragments of memory that bring a father (the author’s) back to life. Oscillating between the shadows and the light, François Turcot presents his lines as though they were archaeological material and reminds us that (hi)story is made of fragments, which can only be told ‘shred by shred.’ The father has lost his diary he called his ‘Book of Hours,’ and so that’s what the son will try to piece back together. The result is both disturbing and brilliant.” —Manon Trépanier, Radio-Canada/La librarie francophone
“Turcot explores the distance between parent and child, the nostalgia, silences, and pain, and in particular the difficulties of navigating the father-son gap. In these poems, Turcot takes the important step of asking his father, “who are you?” – an admirable effort that leads to seeing the parent as a person rather than a symbol.” —Montreal Review of Books
“Turcot’s poems tend towards minimal, shattered moments, that hint at the emotion of an instant without fully unpacking it” —Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press
“The loquaciousness we have encountered here, in this writing (rewritten in translation for those of us with insufficient French) belongs to François Turcot & it offers us a tough, awkward, fantastical, & loving remembrance of a father missed, & now booked for his readers.” —Douglas Barbour, Eclectic Ruckus
“Turcot and Moure’s collaboration is such a compelling and remarkable project—one that is as demanding as it is rare.” —Kyle Kinaschuk, Canadian Literature
Interviews and Profiles:
15 Poetry Collections You Need to Read This Spring —CBC Books
Seven Questions for François Turcot —Touch the Donkey
Today’s Shelfie: François Turcot’s My Dinosaur —The Puritan
TtD supplement #75 : Seven questions for Erín Moure —Touch the Donkey
Montréal-based poet and teacher François Turcot is the author of Mon dinosaure (2014; finalist for the Prix du Festival de poésie de Montréal), Cette maison n’est pas la mienne (2009; winner of the Prix Émile-Nelligan), Derrière les forêts (2008; finalist for the Prix Émile-Nelligan), and miniatures en pays perdu (2006). His poems can be found in English and French in New American Writing, Aufgabe, dANDelion, Action Yes, filling Station, Estuaire, and Exit, and his articles in the Cahiers littéraires Contre-jour. His poetry has been translated into English, German, and Polish. My Dinosaur is his first book translated into English.
Erín Moure is a Montréal poet and translator curious about what’s active in the poetry of others. Moure’s most recent books are Kapusta (2015) and Insecession, a biotranspoetics published in one volume with her translation from Galician of Chus Pato’s biopoetics, Secession (BookThug, 2014). Other recent translations include White Piano (2013) by Nicole Brossard, translated with Robert Majzels from the French, and Galician Songs (2013) by Rosalía de Castro, translated from the Galician.