Canadian Poetry Review

current issue
featured poet
poem of the week
lives of the poets
poetry near you
alan crawley victoria poetry award
about us
contact us

Claude Beausoleil

Poet, novelist, literary critic born in Montreal in 1948, Claude Beausoleil published more than sixty books, starting from Intrusion ralentie in 1972. Among his recent poetry collections, many of them published in Paris: La Blessure du silence (Louise-Labé award), Black Billie (SGDL award), Amerikerouac, Mystère Wilde (Heredia award from l’Académie française) and Cette musique de Keats in 2017. In prose, he published the novels Fort Sauvage and Architecte des sentiments and more recently Alma, fragments about his poetry apprenticeship in the Montreal of his childhood. He aslo published essays about poetry: Les livres parlent, Extase et déchirure, Librement dit et Le motif de l’identité dans la poésie québécoise. His poetry is translated in more than a dozen languages, mainly in Spanish and English. Claude Beausoleil is also the author of anthologies of poetry from Switzerland, Acadia, Quebec and Mexico. Director of Lèvres urbaines, a poetry review he founded in 1983, President of Honor of the Maison de la Poésie de Montréal, member of the Oscar Wilde Society, Claude Beausoleil has been decorated by l’Ordre des francophones d’Amérique. Since 1997, he has been a member of the prestigious Académie Mallarmé in Paris. He has been the first poet laureate of Montreal, his hometown.

Translator Antonio D’Alfonso is a writer, filmmaker, and musician.

from Jack & Billie in the Blues of Night


what you say to Billie
on this American night

is your special way
of jazzing up energy

Black Billie, you listen
you listen to his complaints

in French you listen
you know the origins

of this black continent
you, Billie, the singer

the embodiment of suffering
in your flesh of voice

you sing it he writes it
you sing, you write it for her


on the road on the road
in the blues of silence

your black voice, Billie, your voice your despair
all your power too

Jack is listening to you tonight
on the road on the road for life

Billie Blues in the night
listening to your words

lost and inconsolable
with ecstasy and anger

you repeat you repeat Billie murmuring
when night opens when Jack recalls


the journey of his lifetime
without language in the night on the road on the road

you listen to Billie her blues
of cadences and wanderings

Strange fruit in the night

injury blues, Billie, in your voice origins
her pain and helplessness

lit with innocence

with Jack sharing this night of America
in this nowhere bar

haunted by slivers of voice
expressing desire


in everything the love of blues
poetry dashing headfirst

as you listen to Billie, Jack
on her hurting tongue

you relive the rhythms
of cotton fields

of humiliation
insults inexcusable

and in Jack’s words
still resound the sounds

of when the snow has snowed
in the depth of delirium


memories spilled over
in the bar where the blues

lift you to instinct
the soul of America

to sing and to write
to say without compromise

in the heart of this white night
the black embrace of time

repeating repeating
what words stir up

the troubled soil
of whispers within


From Night Blues
by Yolande Villemaire & Claude Beausoleil
© 2015 Claude Beausoleil and Éditions Caractères
Translation © 2018 Antonio D'Alfonso
Published by Ekstasis Editions