The three authors who marked the career of the poet Tania Langlais

Tania Langlais wrote her first verses at the age of eight. He reads the cursed poets, Baudelaire at the helm, before he reaches the age of twenty. Publishes a first collection at 9 p.m., Twelve beasts in men’s shirtswhich made her the youngest poet to receive the Émile-Nelligan Prize, an honor she still retains.

Established in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since 2010, the Montreal native moved away from the literary world, worked in the public service, and became a mother. However, poetry ended with her, so much so that, a dozen years after the publication of her previous collection, she released When Percival fell, in 2020.

This fourth title was crowned with the Alain-Grandbois Prize on Tuesday evening and is presented at one of the Governor General’s Literary Awards, which will be presented on 17 November.

Charles Baudelaire and the cats

Portrait of Charles Baudelaire by Étienne Carjat, circa 1862

Photo: Getty Images

Between Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) and Tania Langlais, there is this first quote, which caught her as a teenager: The Chinese see time in the eyes of cats. This phrase from the poem in prose The watch found in the collection The spleen of Paris (published posthumously in 1869), which he hastened to find in the library.

Maybe it’s because of this Baudelaire quote that cats are always present in what I write! she says laughing. To me, the cat is a poem. He lives in his own world.

As mysterious as it is independent, the cat is a matter of presence. It is elusive, like artistic creation. It is also silent, and the poem precisely needs silence to reveal itself. »

A quote from Tania Langlais, poet

If she could never have cats as a child, given her father’s allergies, Tania Langlais hurried to adopt one when she left the family home and moved into her first apartment. He names his first feline companion Kennedy, whom he refers to in the titles of his second and third collections, Clarity settles like a cat (2004) i Kennedy knows what I’m talking about (2008).

I don’t write to make sense, or to convey a messageshe argues. I am writing to calm this voice of pain that is mine. It’s my way of dealing with my own end.

René Char and death

The writer wears a dark shirt with his sleeves rolled up above his elbow, under a gray jacket.  He wears a kitten on his chest.

René Char in 1941

Photo: public domain

Because after Baudelaire’s, another quote shakes her intensely, intimately: Poetry will steal my death, by René Char (1907-1988). He discovers it almost at the same time as the work of the author of Flowers of evil that of this poet and resistant.

Tania Langlais jokes that maybe it’s not so much a coincidence as the alphabetical order that places René Char’s titles close to Baudelaire’s which then opens the surrealist universe of the writer of Hypnos leaves i Hammer without master, among others. However, the heartbeat turns out to be just as visceral. Because she lets herself be carried away by what she calls him tidal wavethis fascination with what disappears and what remains beyond death.

When we write, when we publish, we leave a mark. We are aware that we leave footprints, objects that bear our name, our voice. »

A quote from Tania Langlais, poet

For the 40-year-old, writing is, therefore, a matter of coded language for survival. Thus, how water, mourning, and death permeate his own poems. People often drown in my booksshe remembers.

Anne Hébert and the water

Anne Hébert.

Anne Hébert in 1977

Photo: Radio-Canada

The next shock, Tania Langlais owes to Anne Hébert (1916-2000) and her Gannetsnovel bathed by the river and its (e) movements, published in 1982.

The immensity of the river, where it merges with the horizon, makes her return to her holidays in Gaspé, at her grandfather’s house. My parents always talked about the sea, remembers the poet. He also remembers the long way to get there, cradled between sleep and wakefulness, in the back seat of the family car. I asked them to wake me up when we saw the sea, so they woke me up when we got to Rimouski.she says.

Water, therefore, is ubiquitous, pregnant, everywhere, in his work.

Water is the absolute, the breath, the immensity. It can take you like a killer. »

A quote from Tania Langlais, poet

It also associates water with it idea of ​​obsession, of the wave that strikes, even crushes, erodes and that, during the counter-start, can be embraced to the point of losing the foot and dragging towards the sea. The wave comes and goes tirelessly, only to come back and forth.

I write like this, in a movement made of repetitions. There are many repetitions in my books. It is deliberate, as I am very formal, I work text by textargues Tania Langlais. It’s the ocean, but it’s dripping!

No wonder the water is inside While Percival was falling. The water in which Virginia Wool, which inhabits the collection, has collapsed. And if the Perceval of the title obviously refers to the character in the novel Waves de l’Anglaise (in which Perceval dies from a fall from his horse), also winks at one of the narrators of Gannets.

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