Véhicule Press, 2004 (2004)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
uebec's international airport at Mirabel has long been scorned by locals as an exorbitant white elephant and blight on the countryside that absorbed far too many tax dollars, to no purpose. Pierre Nepveu addresses the impact of this fiasco, what it meant to the countryside and farming communities, in his free verse collection,
, translated from the French by Judith Cowan.
he collection is divided into three parts - '
' and '
'. I found the
at the back of the book, as interesting as the poetry. In it, Nepveu tells us that Mirabel's construction brought about the expropriation of '
an enormous tract of land
' (ten times more than needed) and swallowed '
thousands of modest farms situated on very fertile land.
' The airport was announced in 1969, inaugurated in 1975, under-used, and left empty in 2002. Pierre Nepveu calls it '
a preposterous monument to bureaucratic and governmental incompetence.
liked his '
In these once seigneurial regions / of ancient orchards and luminous acres, / the century unfolded without incident ... but on an afternoon in spring / the future's trumpets blared
'. The poet takes different perspectives, including those of a surveyor's
and a cleaning woman's
. Verses that appealed to me most spoke of nature as in '
the quintessential autumn magic
' addressed in '
The Man of the Land
', portrayed '
alone / with the wind and his encyclopedia / of birds and flowers
'; and '
' in which '
lost wild geese / settle softly on the empty runway
n its original (French) publication, the collection won Canada's
Governor General's Award
International Poetry Festival's Grand Prize
in 2003. And Judith Cowan won the 2004
Governor General's Literary Award for Translation
is a fascinating example of poetry as a vehicle for environmental and social commentary.
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