Daoust, Jean-Paul 1946-
DAOUST, Jean-Paul 1946-
PERSONAL: Born January 30, 1946, in Valleyfield, Quebec, Canada; son of Jules and Adrienne (Beausoleil) Daoust. Education: University of Montreal, M.A., 1976.
ADDRESSES: Home—151 chemin Champoux, St. Melanie, Quebec J0K 3A0, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer, teacher, and editor. Cegep Edouard-Montpetit, Quebec, Canada, professor.
MEMBER: Union des Écrivains Québécois.
AWARDS, HONORS: Governor General's Literary Award in Poetry, Canada Council, 1990, for Les cendres bleues.
Oui, cher: récit (title means "Yes, Dear: A Narrative"), Éditions Cul Q (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1976.
Chaise longues (title means "Lounge Chairs"), Éditions Cul Q (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1977.
Portrait d'intérieur (title means "Portrait of an Interior"), APLM, 1981.
Poèmes de Babylone (title means "Babylon Poems"), Écrits des forges (Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada), 1982.
Taxi, Écrits des forges (Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada), 1984.
Dimanche après-midi (title means "Sunday Afternoon"), Écrits des forges (Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada), 1985.
La peau du cœur et son opera (title means "Heart Skin and its Opera"), Éditions du Noroĉt (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1985.
Les garçons magiques; récits (title means "Magic Boys"), VLB Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1986.
Suite contemporaine (title means "Contemporary Suite"), Écrits de forges (Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada), 1987.
Les cendres bleues, Écrits de forges (Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada), 1990, translation by Daniel Sloate published as Blue Ashes: Selected Poems 1982-1998, Guernica (Buffalo, NY), 1999.
Rituels d'Amériques (title means "Rituals of the Americas"), Éditions Incidit, 1990.
Les poses de la lumière (title means "Poses of Light"), Éditions du Noroĉt (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1991.
Du dandysme (title means "On Dandyism"), Éditions Trois (Laval, Quebec, Canada), 1991.
Black Diva: Selected Poems, 1982-1986, translated by Daniel Sloate, introduction by André Roy, Guernica (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1991.
Les chambres de la mer, Éditions l'arbre à paroles (Brussels, Belgium), 1991.
(With Louise Desjardins and Mona Latif-Ghattas) Poèmes faxés (title means "Faxed Poems"), Écrits des forges (Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada), 1994.
111, Wooster Street, VLB Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1996.
Taxi pour Babylone, Écrits des forges (Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada), 1996.
Les saisons de l'Ange, Éditions du Noroĉt (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1997, Volume 2, 1999.
L'Amérique, XYZ Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1999.
Le poème déshabillé, Éditions l'Interligne (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
Les versets amoureux, Écrits des forges (Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada), 2001.
Levres ourvertes, Lanctôt (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2001.
Roses labyrinthes, Castor Astral (Paris, France), 2002.
Also author of Fusions, 1994.
Soleils d'Acajou (novel; title means "The Mahogany Suns"), Éditions Nouvelle optique (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1983.
Le désert Rose (novel), Stanké (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2000.
Member of editorial board, Estuaire.
SIDELIGHTS: Jean-Paul Daoust has had collections of French-language poetry published since 1976. His 1990 volume Les cendres bleues garnered him one of Canada's most prestigious literary prizes—the Governor General's Award in Poetry. Since then, some of the poetry that preceded Les cendres bleues has been translated for readers of English. The first such volume is Blue Ashes: Selected Poems, 1982-1986.
The poems in Blue Ashes contain a great deal of imagery surrounding young male adolescents; they reminded Erin Moure, critiquing the collection in Books in Canada, of the young male angels in Wim Wenders' motion picture, Wings of Desire. Citing a line from Blue Ashes that runs, "Because to be happy / You always do things / That make you tremble all over," Moure concluded: "The book does that. Makes me tremble all over, that is."
Another well-known volume of Daoust's work is Poèmes de Babylone. In this collection Daoust compares modern cities—ranging from Montreal to New York, Hollywood, and Las Vegas—to the ancient Biblical kingdom of Babylon. Sarah Lawall observed in the French Review that Poèmes de Babylone "is no celebration of pagan richness. Daoust's Babylon is—in the traditional image of militant Christian literature—a symbol of modern decadence and sterility." The collection is divided into three sections titled "Poème de nuit," "Poèmes de ville" and "Poèmes de voyage." Lawall expressed her belief that all three segments are bound together by common themes of "paralysis, sterility, and isolation." In the first segment, night is portrayed as mere negative space, a contrast to the day in which one can at least entertain illusions of meaning. The second segment focuses on the topic of current major cities—especially those of the United States—and the frenetic but futile lives lived within them. The city is the fast-paced illusion Daoust opposes to night in the first segment; the second segment is thus filled with imagery of neon lights, television advertising, and people who use too much makeup. The "black champagne" used to describe the night of the first segment now becomes pink, but, according to Lawall, this transformation takes place "ominously." The poetic narrator is filled with despair, even in the daylight.
The third segment, though referring promisingly to trips, is in reality only the dreams of the narrator, who can escape from the cities of the second segment only through his imagination. Even his dreams of exotic locales such as Thailand and Egypt turn them into barren, desert places with no life. "Even the possibility of love," reported Lawall, "which is usually the poet's panacea for life's misery and the ills of society, is a parched, mummified, dead experience." The critic described Poèmes de Babylone as having "aggressively modern overtones."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Daoust, Jean-Paul, Poèmes de Babylone, Écrits des forges (Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada), 1982.
Daoust, Jean-Paul, Blue Ashes: Selected Poems, 1982-1986, translated by Daniel Sloate, introduction by André Roy, Guernica (Buffalo, NY), 1991.
Books in Canada, December, 1991, Erin Moure, review of Black Diva: Selected Poems, 1982-1986, p. 52.
Canadian Book Review Annual, 2000, review of Les cendres bleues, p. 193.
French Review, December, 1984, Sarah Lawall, review of Poèmes de Babylone, pp. 306-307.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 1999, review of Les cendres bleues, p. 1680.
Translation Review Supplement, December, 1999, Les cendres bleues, p. 13.
University of Toronto Quarterly, winter, 2000, review by Roger Chamberland, p. 29; winter, 2000, review by Jane Koustas, p. 271.