{ memoirs } Eux

“ça t’arrive de penser Les connaître au point de savoir exactement quel est le timbre de Leurs voix ? ou t’attendre à les croiser dans la rue à tout moment ?”

we were 13-14 yrs old, this girl was in my class and she had been writing stuff since she was 9, she told me later. i feared her a bit, and i guess all the other kids too: she was tall and foreign, and one of the best students of this year of junior high.
one day, she came by and asked me something about the previous literature lesson we had, we talked a lot and came to appreciate each other. she was writing scary stories, and so was i. that’s how we became friends.

she was the first to hand me some of her writings. so i could tell her what my thoughts were about it. least i can say is that she had quite a mature handwriting, very arabesque-like and kind of too much sophisticated for a young girl of 14yrs old. she told me her handwriting was good because she had taken calligraphy lessons, and was also participating in writings competition, where she used to live before moving to my town.

and so, she was the first to introduce me to anne rice’s novels.
we were both thrilled to be vampires fanatics.
she told me she wrote novels about them: loved stories beyond the grave, drowned in historical places. she had quite the references and the style. we had passionate chats about how we saw the vampire icon and why it fascinated us. i remember she told me she knew her characters by heart and even loved them like they were real.
i was re-reading bram stocker’s dracula, watching nosferatu and all the hammer black&white movies i could rent feverishly on vhs at that time.
she had seen much more movies about that stuff and read so many things about vampires that i felt like a real newbie compared to her.

before meeting her, i hadn’t wrote a lot of vampire stuff yet. just a few pages. and my character building was lacking a lot of substance.
i was just trying to get better at writing scary novels, while imitating as much as possible stephen king’s style. (yep, the sky was clearly the limit for me at that time. and still is, i guess ; )
i had read for the 20th time at least, “le horla” from guy de maupassant (which still stands as one of my fav story of all time) and had decided to write a sequel.
i dashed the short novel off in a few hours, a couple of years earlier, and that was what i first gave her to read.
i was both thrilled & scared when i handed her the copy. she told me she’d be very critical if she didn’t liked it and that i was warned. i smiled anxiously.
after a few days, at school, she told me that my story was good and that i had to keep up. she had corrected my typos and gave me some tips to re-write some of my paragraphs. what a relief !

her prose was (of course !) so much better than mine. real mature, very well thought of. indeed her writings sounded like rice’s a lot, and the descriptions of the macabre love scenes were very detailed… i clearly remember having blushed while reading them. though i was used to read/watch some sex & gore in books/movies already, somehow what she depicted was way more realistic and romantic than i expected. and that, i wasn’t used to read (haha).

anyways, i was amazed of how she wrote and i told her right away.
she smiled and said that i was just a good audience, but i saw in her eyes that my compliment had reached her ego.
i had found only 2 or 3 typos, one paragraph that was a bit tad long, but nothing else i could criticized. her story wasn’t finished yet, she was aiming for a long novel, at least 200 pages.
(i wonder if she ever finished it).

one day, just a few months before the year ended and she was to move away again elsewhere with her parents, we had this very conversation :

“des fois t’as pas l’impression qu’ils sont vivants ? qu’ils existent ?
– comment ça ? parce qu’on les a créés ou parce qu’ils existaient avant nous ?
– non, parce qu’on les a créés, justement !

ça t’arrive pas de penser Les connaître au point de savoir exactement quel pourrait être le timbre de Leurs voix ? ça serait pas marrant de les croiser dans la rue, un jour ? tu imagines ?”

we laughed and it was fun while it lasted. sadly, we never talked again after she moved on with her family. she wrote me a letter just once, before leaving. it looked more of one of her character talking to someone than to me, or like a strange scene of her book, she seemed to have dismissed.

years later, i experienced something that reminded me of this very chat we had. i could never talk about that special “something” that happened, but once, someone i knew very well asked me what i truly felt about those very characters i created through the years.
i smiled and said :

“- They’ve saved me a lot of times from myself, and from others.
but They also tend to torment me too.
– why’s that ?
– because sometimes i can hear them in my sleep. talking to me.
– you know all their voices ?
– it’s funny, i do actually.
it’s even easier to imagine Them walking on earth, appearing among the crowd, while i’m in some random bar or place at night.
– your imagination can go that far ?
– somehow, yes. and further more…”

i don’t know if it’s a gift or a curse, to have that kind of imagination, to be able to create & see things that probably don’t exist for anyone else.
believe it or not, sometimes when i see Them suddenly popping-up somewhere into the night, Their translucent eyes locking into mine, They seem to slightly nod at me, before disappearing into thin air…

(…) tu imagines ?…”

indeed, i can.
and my life has never felt safer since then.

{ memoirs } about poetry

the first poetry i wrote was around 5 or 6yrs old.
it was about a little bird that came to sing love through a window.
this poem was accompanied by a drawing with a bird and giant flowers.

my grandpa (on my mother side) taught me many a thing, and at first it was how to read aloud and how to write a little, before even going to grade school.
he was the one who first introduced me to many a book and among them La Fontaine fables, and was very proud i could recite so many of the famous rhymes by the age of 6.
i knew by heart “Le Renard et le Corbeau”, which was my favorite of all fables. mainly because i had changed the final verse with a joke, and my grandfather was laughing his heart out every time i recited the final verses in front of some public (either it was family or friends).

sadly my grandpa did not live long enough to see me recite or write more awkward things.
he left too early, taken away by a rabid cancer, just before i turned 7.
his desk in the dining room, became both a sacred place and a treasure den for me. each time my grandmother wasn’t looking, i went to write or draw at his desk and steal some yellow paper and pens it contained.
somehow, i still have memory glimpses about me watching him writing from time to time, when i was little. he used to be so focused on what he was doing. just like at his work as a linotypist. and before that as a young journalist whom had left Paris when he was 20yrs old to follow his dreams. i later learnt that he loved police and thriller books, and even write some novels too (of all the stuff and novels he had written through the years, i still own one of them).

after my grandpa passed away, my mom stepped up to the plate and we spent hours reading books together and soon it became a tradition between us, for we did this from elementary school to junior high. we shared what we loved or hated most in the books i had to read for school, and so we exchanged our views on how well written or not things we read were, and also the poems we loved too.
one day, my schoolmaster told her i was sometimes writing poetry in class. others kids too and he encouraged them to. and that’s how i began following an optional class with some others kids and this particular teacher (whom also hosted the film photography class, which i’d be following 2 years later, turning 8).

my mom kept some of the poetry i have written at that time, in a small box.
of course it’s not Rimbaud, Verlaine or even my dear Lord Byron’s kind of poetry.
it talks mostly about birds (and for anyone who knows me, it won’t come as a shocker ;).

i then took poetry classes from elementary, then junior high, and even through high school.
apart from elementary, the poetry classes were orchestrated by our french literature teachers. the other kids that were attending those classes, usually i didn’t knew them or never socialized with them at school. the class was about 6 or 8 kids, most of them were what you might call nerds : kids who didn’t fit anywhere, whom seemed most of time astray or lost in the school yard, whom did not catch the eye of any boy or girl, and who seemed to be quite transparent throughout the year though they usually got good marks.
those kids had only one space of expression for an hour or so, per week, and poetry brought them together.

after a short introduction to the class, and showing what poets and works you loved the most, the exercises weren’t that easy and laid back.
learning how rhymes and french poetry worked mainly : metaphors, anaphora, chiasmus, alexandrine and crossed rhymes; the idea that poetry was not only there to describe the beauty or love, but also criticize and even be an act of rebellion throughout the ages.
those poetry classes gave me a sense of belonging to my fellow humans. because there we were, without the pressure of grades or other kids, and we could exist more and be as awkward as needed to express ourselves, without being judged or laughed at.
once the class was dismissed, we returned to our normal lives at school, with our tribes and friends and act like nothing ever happened.

i was around 9 when i first touched Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal in my mother’s library. it was intense and at first i could not read many of the things he wrote. it was a harsh and beautiful world, dark intricated words i could not assimilate as a kid. for some poems, it felt like being licked by fire, some words pierced & haunted me for a long time…

“Elle éblouit comme l’Aurore
Et console comme la Nuit…”

and so i went through all of her poetry books feverishly. most of them were about love or romantic poems. i remember reading Rimbaud and Aragon, and felt submerged by mixed feelings: both a high sense of beauty and a deep melancholy.
throughout the years, i carried on reading poetry. whether it was classic or contemporary, whether it was about love, about history or nature, or even erotica. poetry written by well-known authors or major unknowns, whether through books, blogs or even out there, in the living world, on some street walls.

it soothes me to read poems, because it’s like returning to a well-known place, a place where you can feel, ache, be loved, be totally naked and free at the same time.
like entering a delicate warm coat where your feelings can curl up and lay bare without being judged.

i still write poetry in a rather awkward style and i forever will.
because no matter how bad it is, poetry sings what prose can’t.
the truth.

(in order to overcome my nevrotic anxiety, i have create a depository of poems and stuff i wrote in some earlier past lives. a small place for me and strangers passing by. i hope the ghosts of those previous lives will remain silent. i can torture myself whenever i want to, i don’t need a memento mori nor permission to do so.)