The language of others
Since 2013, Jacques Jouet addresses poems to the inhabitants of the world and calls this PPP (Planetary Poetry Project). One of these poems was written in Limerick during the 17th ADEFFI (Association For French And Francophone Studies In Ireland) conference and was addressed to me.
This poem mentions those who go elsewhere to find work, alone or in groups, forced or by their own will, with or without money, for a while or forever. It echoes the economic and political mobility that is currently developing in an increasingly protectionist environment that does not always see “multiculturalism” in positive light.
It is a text that resumes another work, also started in 2013, when Jacques Jouet went to Clermont-Ferrand and met Portuguese migrants employed by MICHELIN. He then published a bilingual text (Portuguese-French / Português-Francês) for Clermont-Ferrand’s poetry week.
The idea is to focus on contemporary nomadism –voluntary or not – that is now part of the daily life of many. Relying on bilingualism and the logic of the “addressed poem” makes the reader experience a wandering of his/her own.
The poem written in Limerick has been sent to men and women all over the world, who were “in motion” – meaning they all did leave their home country to find work abroad. All have been asked to translate the poem into a language different from the one of the country they live in. The aim is to play with the places while producing a transitional writing that speaks of geographical and cultural boundaries.
This project plays with locations and nationalities, so for instance, the Indi version come from Sydney (Australia), theUkrainian one from London, the Urdu translation from Orleans, the Romanian version from Lyon, the Hebrew one from Cambridge, the Lithuanian translation from Geneva etc. The interaction generates a multiplied poem that echoes our globalized and polyphonic contemporary world. In this world, one circulates without furniture, but is always carrying one’s own culture. Each translation becomes a transitional space and a testimony of the individual’s (re)constructions and stories.
Here does translation seem to be the only possible return – or the only return that counts, as it becomes like a journey towards memory and identity that embraces pluralistic perspectives. The translation of the poem by its reader shows a life, which passes through the intertwining of many languages. It presents a life that is moving towards other places, other men, other migrants.
This poem re-written and “in migration” tells the infinite journey of mankind and its écriture-monde. It creates encounters and brings to light stories that don’t have any beginning or an end.
(Translated in English by Ian Monk)
Limerick, October 17, 2015
Poem sent to Genevieve Guetemme – transferred to Richard Berengarten
Tell me about your sentence and I’ll tell you who you are
Keep working at it, for at least a couple of hundred hours
As well as on being ‘flexible’.
Yo-yoing up and down, nothing regular coming in
High pay, low pay, pay (maybe) by the hour.
Big Daddy TOTAL is the Godfather of these people
The Clermont-Ferrand MICHELIN model wasn’t born yesterday
And Portuguese masons have switched their trowel for tyres.
The earth is flat and hasn’t got a core, I live on a flat surface
And I won’t be bringing along my furniture in a container
that docks into Le Havre on some ruddy container ferry
Like some GINORMOUS sugar cube.
Limerick Kisoundi (Kongo)
The photos are by Geneviève Guétemme.