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Hugues Corriveau

Poet, fiction and non-fiction writer, Hugues Corriveau was
poetry reviewer for Montreal’s daily Le Devoir between 2006 and
2017. He also was a literary critic for Lettres Québécoises between
1990 and 2011. A five-time finalist for the Governor General
Award, he has written over thirty books since 1978. His writings
have been recognized for their excellent; he has won the Alfred-
Desrochers Award twice and the Grand Prix du livre de
Sherbrooke. In 1999 he was offered the Alain-Grandbois Award
for Le livre du frère (Book for a Brother). His latest novel, La
fêlure de Thomas, was published in 2018. Hugues Corriveau lives
in Montreal.

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

from Rome

I would like to write of a suite of words so precise that
they would seem self-sufficient, organs swollen with
sensuality, herbal sugar we sip through leaves when it
is morning. Common sense, however, says no. We
can’t press an entire vocabulary into a single poem
ready to talk about the beauty found in a single hour of
tranquility. No! My teeth crush sand as if it were salt,
erasing the birth of the world in the tiniest of syllables!
The gale’s dry cough.

We wish for words to name distant cities, hearts and
bodies. This is a week of happiness. Very much
needed. If I want to survive the anxiety of clocks, the
so unexpected cracking of worn-out bones. Age is
slippery. In the heart of self, there is cold-blooded
music that is languishing. I need to breathe in noisy
cities, sleepless, and lonely movements welcome
people’s luck. I yearn for the body that becomes hard,
straight, facing guns and hostility.

I have neither eyes nor tongue. Beating snare drum,
irrigation of blood revives. With words found, we have
this duty to speak. My mouth is filled with marbles,
bubbles of ink as screams. On my wrist, my name in
plastic to identify my skin smooth in the hospital. I
wander through the street since forever, noting, be it
for an instant, the footsteps of others under my own.

Struck head on the dancing steps of a person much too
beautiful, Viale dei Quattro Ventri, I lose my breath!
With the dice of luck in my hands the stranger’s
intimate world imposes itself. I am steeped in fear in
the heart of a child’s dreams. I then hear the familiar
noise of tram wheels on their steel rails. Let’s not
forget these unimportant resounding offenses banging
inside my mind like Christmas tinsel or fresh fruit on
my tongue.


From Reflections on Water
by Hugues Corriveau
© 2006 Hugues Corriveau
Translation © 2018 Antonio D'Alfonso
Published by Ekstasis Editions