Monday poetry: today, “the stubborn road of tears” by Claude Favre

Every week, a look at the poetic news. Today, the disarming and uncompromising poetry of “Those who go through strange lands the strange begging adventures”, the new collection by Claude Favre.

“Ripped off the map. But the real names are not on the card. With its “words of hearts cut with a knife”, French poet and performer Claude Favre invites the reader to pay attention to “those who, even by day, are not visible”. That is to say refugees, prisoners, slaves, raped women, the homeless… “Those who go through strange lands / strange begging adventures”, this title so beautiful, comes from an excerpt from Chrétien of Troyes.

But Favre’s invitation is also an injunction. Even his questions end in dots, as implacable: “Does disappearing make something appear upside down.” His prose is raw, punchy, chiseled through the prism of spirituality. Many times memory and imagination are summoned, “do you remember”, “imagine. Remember. Forget. Remember. Speak. Shut your mouth.” His tongue is turned towards the memory of the forgotten, “sacrificial flesh”. The gulags, the Saint-Barthélemy massacre, the war in Algeria, Syria, the street children of Kinshasa are mentioned… All the terror and suffering, often ignored by history books, and which nevertheless seem to him inherent in the human condition.

Claude Favre, whom the poetess Sabine Huynh describes as “the Pearl”, the Janis Joplin of contemporary poetry, plunges into the darkness, the abysses and the filth of the human soul, furrows the “faces against ashes”, digs into them at a breakneck pace, with all his impotent strength. “Dying is forever.” In paragraphs with short and visual sentences, enumerative, sometimes non-verbal, like blocks engraved in marble, she tells the men “submerged in their flaws”. The “cohorts of death”, “the smell of blood” and the lexical field of violence punctuate his story, “cannon beasts”, “butchery”, “carcasses”. His word resounds like a rattled rattle against the forgetting of “phantom limbs” and “burnt children”. Or perhaps it is rather an emergency, that of paying homage to “those who, by strange detours, dance”, to “fireflies in children’s eyes”.

Don’t imagine, those who, through strange lands, dance, in a lively struggle. Dance. Out of fear sometimes slash the nights of laughter and sing and dance. Dance, on the long road. Pursued them, controlled them. Stripped of. Nudes. Disinfected and things, clothes thrown away. Disinfected. Those who, mask on the mouth disinfect. And always, have words, always.

Do not imagine for the crazy the words in the mouth panic. Far from the clans and their little things. Them, squatting in the sun. Beasts by ingenious man, pious traps. And tears, unfolds, tortures. And oblivion. Remain, only remain the shadows of stories, a few stories. The shadows that we move. Lips moving. The throats that knot. And the words, do the words move with the horizons, drift the horizon.

Claude Favré, Those who go through strange lands begging strange adventures, Lanskine editions, 88 pages, 14 euros.

Monday poetry: today, “the stubborn road of tears” by Claude Favre