La Montrealer won her second Governor General’s literary award this week, for her translation of La vie radieuse de Chantal Neveu as This Radiant Life.

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Like many of us, Erín Moure doesn’t necessarily answer her phone every time it rings.

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“It was 7 in the morning,” he said of a call he received at his Plateau home on Wednesday. “I canceled the call. I assumed it was spoofing. ”

Eventually, however, word got out and the news was good: it was an officer representing the Governor General’s Literary Awards, congratulating her on being named this year’s winner of the English translation award, for her interpretation of La vie radieuse. by Chantal Neveu as This Radiant Life.

“I don’t really think about (awards),” said the 66-year-old. “I just do my job. But receiving recognition from your peers is very healthy and humbling. And it makes a difference in the sales of the book, so I am very happy for Chantal and for (the English publisher) Book * hug. It helps encourage people to keep writing and publishing poetry when other things sell more. ”

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Moure has won a Governor General’s literary award once before, in 1988 for his poetry volume Furious. When asked if the landscape of national poetry has changed significantly in the last 33 years, he did not hesitate to answer affirmatively.

“The presence of indigenous poets, the greater presence and acceptance of people with different names, these things are new,” he said. “When I started writing, they told me, ‘You’ll have to change your name to Erica Moore. They can’t post you with that funny name. ‘ I said, ‘I’ll never change my funny name!’ “

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So are things looking up for Canadian poetry in general?

“Yes. It is an exciting time. But there is still not enough translation and not enough is being published. A vibrant poetry scene influences other art forms and the public’s ability to see ourselves, to see who we are and how we are changing, and to pressure the government to change things. Which we obviously have to do, given the way the planet is going down the drain. ”

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For Moure, the problem of reading and writing came very early. Growing up in western Canada, she was awakened to the power of poetry when her father brought a Mother Goose book home from the library.

“I don’t think I even knew how to read it yet,” he recalled. “Everything was so incomprehensible and magical. I just thought, ‘Look how this looks on the page! I want to do this! ‘ “

As a teenager, Moure learned about the possibilities of translated poetry by reading Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in English and Spanish. It was the beginning of a long and lasting vocation in which his own writing (he has 22 books and multiple awards under his belt) and his translation work feed off each other.

“For me, it’s all part of a single practice,” he said. “I don’t really care if I’m creating an English version of someone else’s work or if I’m creating my own work. I live poetry, it feeds me every day. I want to share my work when I can write it and I also want to share the work of these other people. There is no hierarchy in that. ”

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Moure is in a position to choose his translation projects based on his enthusiasm for the work in question, and he knew he wanted to take on This Radiant Life from its original publication in 2016. The work was a process that involved a lot of dialogue and collaboration. set-up: the book is a minimalist affair in which each word carries a lot of weight, which makes the role of the translator even more sensitive.

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“I see (This Radiant Life) as almost a manual to live in these times, due to its multiplicities,” Moure said. “Word meanings bounce off each other and increase (other) meanings, and we have to live and create our lives with that same kind of reciprocity if we are to survive and thrive.”

Presumably the writer and translator got in touch shortly after GG’s announcement?

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“Oh yeah. We went out and had squid to celebrate. It absolutely felt like a double win. The translation wouldn’t have the same depth and resonance without the conversations we had. And she’s a friend, part of the little network of mutual support we have. in this neighborhood. We look at each other. “

When asked if she could provide her version of the literary translator’s mission statement, Moure was more than willing.

“In a book you have a friend,” he said. “And you want to take this friend’s hand and lead him through a barrier to meet new friends and be recognized.”

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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