MARIE-CLAIRE RECURT was born in Bordeaux, France and immigrated with her parents to Québec. After living in France, Canada, and the UK, she chose to settle in southern Ontario and moved to Guelph a few years ago.
With her background in Literature and Theatre, she has enjoyed, since her early childhood, performing, reading and writing. She started, as a young adult, to write poems, travelling notes, and also enjoyed doing some story telling. She participated in a Toronto local storytelling festival. After her move to Guelph and attending the Eden Mills writer's festival, she was inspired by taking up her writing again. She enjoys participating in the Silence Open Mics. She had a short story published by the Editions David, Ottawa, in 2016 in French.
Although French is her first language, she has started to write short stories in English. At the moment, she is exploring her voice through her writing and story telling in both languages, being very aware that both languages allow different part of herself to be expressed.
Last March, I was in isolation, at home, because of the pandemic and a hip operation. Was it the pandemic, the operation or the opioids (taken shortly because of the operation) which caused me an inability to write and speak? I decided to dig out some old writings; from 1978-79. What had changed around me in so many years?
I remembered, in 1978-1979, being preoccupied by the national and international political scenes and by the desire to explore Feminine writing; I gathered three women from a course on Women literature in order to write a short play based on our own experiences; that is instead of submitting a typical essay. The following year, I would discover Hélène Cixous at the Université de Paris-Vincennes ( I remember going there regularly taking suburban trains, boats, subways to go from London to Paris as I was also working as an assistant in Twickenham at Saint Mary’s College). My uncle had warned me that I would go to a very unusual campus, but in those days, nothing frightening me; I had to attend those classes. I never told my uncle how much I had appreciated his support but I was grateful.
In 1978-79 I felt a constant feeling of inability to combine caring for my young daughter, "married life", student life, working part-time, and squeezing in a bit of acting. I was also much taken by the world crises of the time. In those days, some of my concerns were the Boat People, the South African affairs among many. With the Viêtnam war still fresh in my memory. I felt it was one of the same; being a woman anywhere in the world, being anyone with a challenging life, suffering from violence of some sorts. The topics of sexual abuse, harassment, bullying at home or in the workplace were not part of our vocabulary nor talked about. It was certainly in our lives but no one would even dare thinking about it and certainly most would not say a word about it. Silence had been learnt to be the golden rule. Most were very good at conducting their lives as if it were normal.
Even though some writings are inspired by my own experiences they have been inspired by lives of others; at times some elements are fictitious and some are part of the creative writing process.
Poem 1 and 2 were written in February 1978
Poem 3 was written in 1979
I have written in French and English over the years and found that it brings very different "selves". Back in March of this year, as I felt I could not speak at all, and even more so struggling with my second language, I am not surprised that I picked right away Poem 1; I had it saved in my handwriting as I did not type back in 1978. I made some minor adjustments to it and gave it a different title. I did not touch the poems 2 and 3 which I just typed. The poem number one should have the word CESURE in black and CASSURE in red; the first and second paragraphs of that poem should be in black and the rest of the poem in red. The poem number two had been written in red and I kept this intact and it should be in red.
I have decided to include an excerpt of a short-story I wrote in 2018. Very different tone, different story.
Language and culture continue to bring constant “questionnnement” *.
· “Questionnement” is the word that I want to use and I could not find nor think of a word that would justly translate the meaning that want to express as one of the meaning is not just questioning.
I cherish speaking in both: French and English. Sure enough, when I am with some Francophone friends or family who do not speak fluently English, I experience the same thing; sometimes I want to use the English word. People speaking or writing different languages experience this. The feeling of saying more; the feeling of saying less.
Through the writing in either English or French, I find different voices. Always questioning the ability to have a space to be.
The print that should be in red normally could not be transferred here. Punctuation seems to be lacking or seems to be used inconsistently; however, the punctuation is purposely fluctuating.
... ... ; ... ... .
... ... ; ... ... .
... ... ; ... ... .
... ... , ... ... .
... ... , ... ... !
.... ... , ... ... !
... ... , ... ..., ... ?
... ... , ... ..., ... ?
! ... ? ... ! ...! ...!
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ?
? ? ... !! ... ?? ...
!? !!?? !!!??? !!!???
!! ???? !?!?!? !?!?!!
Césure: CESURA (pause in a line of verse)
Cassure: a break
Des pleurs, des cris
Ta tête éclate
Tout circule, se fracasse
Repars sourire, rire, parole
Tristesse, mélancolie, spleen
Fourire, ciel bleu, oiseaux
Eclair, bourrasque, tempête
Lac transparent, enfants qui jouent
Hommes paralysés, femmes blessées
Tu es prise au piège
Une deux, une deux
Tes jambes pourtant inertes
Cours, cours, cours donc, on the le dit
Ton corps est là
Même si, en toi, la colère, l'angoisse
Oublie les moments de vérité
Où ton corps se déchire
Où tu sens que tes membranes, tes os
Vont se nouer et craquer
Où tes griffes voudraient
Très lentement, très justement
T'abîmer à jamais
Mais parle, parle donc
Même si en toi ta langue est liée par l'absurdité
Oublie les moments de vérité
Où tu voudrais tout brûler
Où tu voudrais pouvoir effacer ces images
D'injustice, de peur, d'horreur, de guerre,
De misère, de souffrance
Te conscientiser? Te démysitifer?
Tu n'as rien compris
Rester calme devant tout cela?
Alors que ces paroles, ces images, s'impreignent
Et ne peuvent plus s'effacer
Ecris, tu dois écrire, on te le demande
Mais l'écriture ne pourra jamais
Jamais faire passer ce que tes nerfs
Ce que tout ton corps pense et souffre
Attention le vent, les voitures t'attendent
Attention le téléphone sonne, la télévision te jette
A la face ce que tu ne veux pas voir,
Attention la radio hurle ses nouvelles
Ses chansons, ses fredaines
Attention, sois les autres si tu veux être "reconnue"
Si tu veux être "quelqu'un"
Attention, si tu veux vivre, être
Une seconde de plus, une minute de plus, des années de plus
Toi, qu'es-tu devenue?
L'instrument de leurs fantasmes
Tes bras, tes jambes, ta bouche fonctionnent toujours
Tu presses sur un bouton
Et cela sort comme un ordinateur*
T'es une machine. Bravo!
Presque parfaite, si tu oubliais ton toi
* When I read this word that I used in 1978 "ordinateur", "computer", it struck me as there was no computer at all around me but I knew the dawn for computers was just happening.
Poem 3 1979
Belfast, Edimbourg, Londres
Paris, Brest, Biarritz, Bastia
Barcelone, San Sébastien, Madrid
Milan, Rome, Palermo
Sana, Aden, Addis-Abada, Modagishu
Dacca, Bombay, Lahore, Yakant
Cape Town, Winddhoek
Tel Aviv, Beirut, Le Caire
Téhéran, Kirkuk, Kaboul
Moscou, Washington, Indianapolis, Santa Fe
Santiago, Caracas, Lima
Hanoi, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Shanghai
Québec, Toronto, St John’s, Edmonton, Vancouver
Pourquoi crier vos villages, vos villes, vos contrées
Pourquoi crier vos femmes, vos enfants, vos enfants, vos maris, vos amants
Mais pourquoi tuer aujourd’hui, demain, s’entredéchirer, se briser?
Sur une terre, pour une vie
Mais déchirez-vous donc, criez, flambez, tuez, massacrez
Faites jaillir le sang de partout. Exterminez!
Démolissez, saccagez, ne laissez plus rien que les cendres
Attention, on vous a volé
Faites la guerre, révoltez-vous, battez-vous
Vengez-vous, trahissez, punissez, criez, emparez-vous
De vos droits, vos droits! Vos droits?
Votre droit de liberté, votre droit de démolir
Votre droit vous aveugle. Au lieu d’y voir le bleu
Tout est blanc, blanc, blanc
Mais, dans ces mêmes villages, villes, contrées
Tous ces mêmes gens qui veulent tuer, assassiner,
S’embrassent, se caressent, se touchent,
Se lèchent, se frottent, se collent
Ils se passent l’amour de mains en mains
Comme de l’argent;
Ils disent faire l’amour alors qu’ils se haient,
Qu’ils se détestent, qu’ils se suicident.
N’avons-nous rien compris!
Tout pour l’oubli!
Si vous ne trouvez pas votre drogue dans l’amour
Puisez-la dans la morphine. Pire, puisez-la dans la violence,
Puisez-la dans le cri!
Pire, puisez-la dans le rire!
Excerpt of a short-story
The Stollery’s Scarlett Duffle Coat
Recently I went to the French consulate at the corner pf Bloor and Yonge Street. Before entering the doors of the building I looked around and remembered the days when I had lived in Rosedale. Numerous times, we had gone into Stollery’s, bras dessus bras dessous. Stollery’s, once a jewel of high-end garment stores had left too many new customers dismayed by the tired window displays. Now the store had been swallowed up; I crossed over and stared at the deep hole. Just south of the store, the old, the old movie theatre, the Uptown Theatre had been demolished in 2003. It seemed as it were only yesterday that we were at that movie theatre for the International Film Festival. The whole corner block of Bloor and Yonge had disappeared. (The Eaton’s and the Simpson’s were no longer. Department stores also had been glories of a new modern era.) History was gone. Nothing was permanent.
He had taken me to Stollery’s to buy a coat of my choice and I had chosen a long grey coat made with mohair wool. I had thought the piece of Shammy in the coat was a good idea and would keep me warm. The truth was that the coat never truly fitted me; over the years, I had given it to a seamstress to get it fixed; once for length, once for width. It was too long, too big for me and too grey really.
A few years later, to celebrate my birthday, He had suggested that we go back to that same store in order to purchase a new coat. I think that he knew the grey coat never suited me. We came into the store and we were greeted ever so kindly by a shop assistant; with such reverence as only the old English seemed to possess. It reminded me Selfridges or Harrods’ greeting when we used to step in their stores, in London.
We were guided towards the Duffle coats’ section as we had requested. This time, my eyes went straight away to the Scarlett duffle coat. Red, it would be. No more compromise. A duffle coat seemed all together perfect; my partner had a brown one. We would make a perfect pair! But, red for me. I tried it and immediately I had loved the feel of it and the colour. We walked out, hand in hand, happy to be wearing our duffle coats.
This Scarlett duffle coat went everywhere. We went to the country and I had to have it; I worked and I had to have it. We would travel and I would wear it. Looking into my closet, there was then no hesitation in deciding which coat to choose. That coat had become everything to me. This new acquisition was a true second chance.
It was my childhood that I would carry with me every day; the days of walking on the country roads and catching a bus to the city, running, climbing in the streetcars taking us to school. We all wore blue duffle coats as part of our uniforms. No question to wear anything else. It was easy to button up; easy to get our head covered from a quick gesture, not too long so it left us free for our games.
My mother had wanted us to have good quality woolen English fabric for our coats. It was normal living in Bordeaux; a reminiscence perhaps of an ancient English influence. I never questioned her choice; I liked my coat. I would remember the recesses, skipping and paying hopscotch. Our coats had been packed in the large trunks travelling with us on the Trans-Atlantic ship when we had come over. However, my mother had quickly found those coats unsuitable for the harsh Québec winters, and consequently they returned into the trunks.
Years had passed by, and finally living in Toronto, it became feasible again to wear a duffle coat. So, when “L’homme de ma vie” had offered me a duffle coat, I had jumped at the idea. We had walked from our home, on a beautiful sunny fall, strolling slowly as his breathing became irregular at times: a remaining impediment from the Tuberculosis contracted a long time ago while working down in the mine, in the far North of Ontario. We had stopped at Mercurio’s at the corner of Bloor and Bedford to break the long walk.
After the purchase we had headed north to Thornbury for the weekend, and after a quick lunch we lied down on a chaise longue on the back porch, breathing in the fresh Georgian Bay air. We could see the bails of hay scattered in the fields and the animals grazing, enjoying the last days if green grass.
Everything would be at a standstill; both in our duffle coats, wrapped in a blanket. Nothing would change ever; the landscape would always be there, the view would always be there for us to feast upon after our hectic week in Toronto.
Our friends knew right away when we would appear for a visit; our Duffle coat couple’s coming!
And then, it happened suddenly we drifted apart. Never, never again this couple with their Duffle coats would be seen again. They had vanished in thin air. What had happened? How could their story end up so abruptly? The neighbours would catch him wearing his Duffle coat with his daughter hurrying in and out of his car.
They might have seen me, at times, on Bloor Street, a few kilometres, away, having moved in a different neighbourhood. Every day, through the fall and winter, year after year, I would continue to wear my Stollery’s English Scarlet Duffle coat. I would not give it up. Years passed, and one day walking to work, I noticed it was really wearing out. I decided to take it to an old seamstress shop and asked them to sow a black binding. I was thrilled at the good job they did and was able to continue wearing the coat, I would notice that the warm feeling which had filled me for so long was wearing out. The wool was thinning out.
Anyhow, I would put it away and, inevitably, would pull it out again with the arrival of the following fall.
With my retirement, I decided to break away from the City. And, after giving up moving into a new condo event though I had signed the purchase offer, I headed towards a smaller town where I could find a more peaceful atmosphere; a quiet retreat. I needed to leave engulfing condos rising up everywhere; instinctively I searched for an old stone house. I could not picture myself confined in a squared high-rise, having only access to a French window!
Quickly I found a home close to parks and water located right in the downtown core of my new hometown. That was perfect! I loved strolling along the river; sit on a bench and watch the traffic being help up by streams of Canada geese. I couldn’t help smiling at this view. I wondered if the traffic would have stopped on King Street or Queen, or Front for sudden overtake of geese strolling gently.
Perhaps, the drawback of moving was to feel more of the cold winter. In fact, every winter seemed to worsen, bringing along more frigid temperatures.
In the three years, I bought three different new coats, always searching for the ideal coat. Before going out, I had now, the choice of the following coats: one black, two reds, two whites, and three or four winter jackets but not one seemed to be the right one. Inadvertently, I grabbed my Stollery’s Scarlett coat and hurried up to Balzac’s to meet up with a friend, to read or write.