Patrice Desbiens

The Art of Disappearing

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In his first book written entirely in English, the Franco-Canadian poet Patrice Desbiens explores through his poetry the alienation of the French-speaking minority of Ontario trapped between Anglo-Canadian and Quebec culture. His bilingual poetry—never translated but rather reinterpreted—is in search of an identity reflects a disaffection with both cultures, belonging neither to the English or to the French. His most significant bilingual work, L’homme invisible / The Invisible Man, a book of poems eventually brought to the stage, revealed Patrice Desbiens as a major voice in Ontario. The Invisible Man, bilingual by birth, becomes the emblematic figure of the Franco-Ontarian in search of identity. The story takes place in the two mother tongues of the invisible man imprisoned in a verbal stereo of two worlds. A life in the shadows his poems portray the alienation entailed the double linguistic affiliation: being divided, in two languages, he is still too French or too little and not really belonging to either culture. This sardonic view of the cultural situation in French Ontario is tempered by a lapidary writing, a surprising humor and powerful images. A fragmented outsider in two distinct cultures, distinguished by an ardent coolness, Patrice Desbiens is a detached and sardonic observer. One of the few poets who has both a critical and popular success, his poetry is that of everyday life. Inspired by jazz, his popular and dissonant poems are based on a discordance syntax as well as rhythmic lyricism.

This is the genius of Patrice Desbiens that drives us to ask ourselves how to live if we do not feel that we belong to any clearly defined identity.
~ Anne Desrochers, Radio Canada

Patrice Desbiens is a Francophone Canadian poet. He was born in Timmins, Ontario and began his career as a journalist. Since making his literary debut in 1972, he has been regarded as one of Canada’s most successful French-language poets. He has received many awards for his poetry, including the Prix Champlain in 1997 for Un pépin de pomme sur un poêle à bois and the Prix de poésie Terrasses Saint-Sulpice-Estuaire for La Fissure de la fiction in 1998. He was also a finalist for the Governor General’s Prize in 1985, for his book Dans l’après-midi cardiaque.

ISBN 978-1-77171-227-9
102 pages
6 x 9
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