Un Docteur Anglophone Traduit Les Inquiétudes De Son Patient Avec Google/An English Speaking Doctor Translates the Concerns of his Patient with Google


à quoi bon être poète


beau dire

ce mal

semble dans la tête comme

marteau feu enclume clou couteau

ou l’éclat d’une baudroie ou des

aurores boréales


à la fin

pour ce qui importe

on fait toujours mauvais traduction

la douleur est un langue

où les mots sont minable tentative

à ce qu’on ne peut que vivre

dans le corp




toi qui connais

la souffrance



ce mal d’aujourd’hui




avec de l’aide


est-ce une

peine de



what good is being poet


beautiful say

this pain

seems in the head like

hammer fire anvil nail knife

or the brilliance of a monkfish or

northern Lights


at the end

for what matters

we always do bad translation

pain is a language

where the words are shabby attempt

we can only live

in the body




you who know




this evil of today



would shoot

with help


is it a



Grade levels
Grades 7-9 / Sec. 1-3
Grades 10-12 / Sec. 4 & 5 / CEGEP 1
Common Poetic Terms and Forms
Bibliographical info

Dominik Parisien, "Un Docteur Anglophone Traduit les Inquiétudes de Son Patient Avec Google/An English Speaking Doctor Translates the Concerns of his Patient with Google" from Side Effects May Include Strangers. Copyright © 2020 by Dominik Parisien.

Source: Side Effects May Include Strangers (Hugh MacLennan poetry series, 2020)

One line description
This bilingual poem expresses the limitations of understanding across languages when experiences become lost in translation.
Dive in
  1. Identify the literary devices used in the second and third stanzas of this poem.
  2. Read the poem left to right, line by line. What emotional effect do the grammatical and translation choices have for you as a reader?
  3. In a table, list the different characterizations and roles associated with the poet/patient and the doctor in this poem.
  4. In reading the last stanza, sum up the question the patient is asking of the doctor. How do you imagine the doctor might respond?
  5. Practice reciting this poem with a friend, with one person reciting in English, and the other in French, perhaps switching partway through. Try reciting line by line, stanza by stanza, and column by column. How many different combinations can you come up with?


Writing Exercise

Write a poem in French or English and use an online translator to transcribe a line-by-line translation of the poem in a parallel column.


Useful Links

Dominik Parisien Author Website

Shazia Hafiz Ramji Reviews Dominik Parisien’s Side Effects May Include Strangers - Hamilton Review of Books

The Acrobatics of Conveyance: Dominik Parisien's Side Effects May Include Strangers - ARC Poetry Magazine

Review by Manahil Bandukwala - Carousel Magazine

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