Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends,
'Every healthy man,' said BAUDELAIRE, 'can do without eating.'
for two days, of poetry, never» (and of course «every man» that
also means “any woman”…). I have always been struck by this
maxim of BAUDELAIRE. I have long believed that it was only a question of
desperate joke of a cursed poet. Of such a proud form
that stubborn refusal of the evidence, of that sinister evidence of the absence
poetry in the modern and contemporary world.
And yet! And yet I could never believe that our great poet could
risk a meaningless provocation, even if I do the part of the
dandysme... And indeed, BAUDELAIRE reminds us of the paradox of the
poetry in our contemporary world.
In a sense, it is everywhere, it feeds us, it inhabits us, it makes us
live in all the forms it takes to slip up to us
and support us, without our own knowledge; but in another sense, we do not see it
no, he is not heard or almost not, his voice is lost in the hubbub
of the world. The cries supposed to announce it make her flee, and silence then the tent,
as the last burst of pride imposed on him by his discretion.
So, on the one hand, there is this vital necessity of poetry, which escapes us
often to ourselves, so much do we get used to content ourselves with
its various derivatives and all the other forms in which it
André BRETON was so interested in advertising. De
on the other side, we are faced with this apparent absence, this
difficulty that poetry seems to still have to come down to us, this
feeling that even where it concentrates its forces it still lacks
all the echo it deserves. Faced with this dilemma of a omnipresent poetry
in its very absence, what can be done? What can be done, in
particular for the public authority which has the delicate task of developing
love for this necessary writing and this vital practice?
Well, I think it would be wrong to imagine that poetry could happen
the support of a State, in particular a democratic State, that is
the diversity of voices that make up society. And I believe there is
a responsibility of the State to support this art and to encourage it so that it
continues to bring the Word to incandescence, like a burning heart that
signals the vitality of the whole body.
But of course, especially when it comes to art and creation, the State cannot and
must not do everything at the risk of pouring into an official art that cannot be
that is harmful to poetic expression. That is why the initiative of Jean-
Pierre SIMÉON to create – twelve years ago!... Time goes, time goes
is leaving, Madame” – the Spring of Poets, with the support of the Ministry
through the National Book Centre, is particularly
relevant. Moreover, the reunion of poetry and its
is a considerable success and each year more brilliant, more
You have understood, dear Jean-Pierre SIMÉON, that the essential must
always be rebuilt by effort, by sharing and by joy.
Each year, you invent an entry key for an audience at the start of a
sparse and, in any case, disseminated, that the very word «poetry»
could sometimes intimidate, especially in the general public and in our
And these safe-conduits that you offer us in the labyrinth of poetry
are very useful for everyone to make their way there
personal. These approach angles break what the image of
poetry could be too monolithic and too impressive,
almost too vertiginous. It’s a bit like what MONTAIGNE says in
about precipices suddenly losing their power
worry because a simple bush clings to it and defuses it.
Last year, it was “Laughter and Bursts” and you had it backwards
the cliché of a poetry centered on elegy, lost in the expression of
“sad passions”, even drowned in the dark moods. Today, you
have launched “Couleur femme” – which I would have preferred to enter
plural, both “colours” and “women”, to make
the profusion of images and identities that poetry conceals
women. In any case, I find the idea of giving a kind of voice
to this feminine poetry, completely relevant and useful, both for
women poets only for the whole poetry. I don’t think
only to the great voices of contemporary poetry, to
Andrée Chedid in particular, highlighted in these days, or at
many other female poets, like Liliane WOUTERS, but also to
Valérie ROUZEAU or Gabrielle ALTHEN, I obviously can’t
list all these talents…
I also know that the Spring of Poets – whose name meets the
«Peoples' Spring» in a festive and slightly utopian spirit,
perhaps more “forty-eight” than “sixty-eight” – knows
breaking down the silo of poetry. You’re building bridges with other arts:
with the song and inventions of Brigitte FONTAINE and Mathieu
CHEDID aka «M», with poems danced by Marie-Claude
PIETRAGALLA and Carolyn CARLSON, with the theatre also thanks to the
sponsorship, or should I say “seed” granted by
Dominique BLANC who will say many texts with the talent that each
knows him. By all these new alliances, you give us a
chance to resolve the split between the omnipresence of a poetry that
These are the two strategies that I believe
animate your process and I must say that they have already blossomed since 12
and I am convinced, as MALHERBE said, that the fruits
will pass the promise of flowers».
This spring, you give us as the foretaste or the avantscène
», to quote Andrée CHEDID in her poem which
Today marks the second edition of the contest named after him.
We will know later who the winner is.
For it is March 8, a month from now, on the occasion of the
Woman, that this poetic season will open until March 21,
World Poetry Day.
This «spring» will bloom everywhere: not only in Paris, but in the regions,
in each of our territories, open to the winds of Turkey and
Russia, two countries in the spotlight this year. We will see it emerge no
only in confined spaces, but in the street, in trains, in the
metro, mail, newspapers, radio, and the Internet. The
partnerships have been forged with a large number of stakeholders, who are
present here today and whom I thank, in order to give movement to
poetry. These are a thousand and one ideas that will allow poetry to be
just more visible and so to speak in bloom. A thousand and one actions that
are there as a revealer of this omnipresent and
time so discreet that it almost makes her forget.
I would like to finish by saying a few verses.
I could have quoted Louise LABÉ, Anna de NOAILLES, Catherine POZZI, Emily
DICKINSON, many others, but, due to the Franco-Russian season, my
choice was made towards the great poet Anna AKHMATOVA and her poem
«For Alexandre Blok» which seems to me to reverse the meaning opportunely
Traditional love gaze in poetry:
I came to see the poet.
It’s just noon. It’s Sunday.
The room is large and quiet.
It’s freezing out there.
A raspberry sun
On the fur of grey smoke….
The master of the place speaks little:
He looks at me with his clear eyes!
His eyes are so clear
That you can’t not remember.
And I, who am careful, do better
Not looking for them.
I’ll remember this conversation
That smoke at noon this Sunday
In this high grey house
On the Neva, at the gates of the sea.”