Born in Quebec City, Jocelyne Verret is a writer, published poet, novelist, dramaturge, simultaneous translator and journalist. She has also lived in New Brunswick, Alberta and in Brazzaville, the Capital of La République Populaire du Congo (Africa).
In 2021, RESOUND Choir (Durham, Ontario) performed her poem Emmène-moi/Take Me To …in both French and English in their online concert The Storm is Passing. In 2022, she was a simultaneous translator at Economic Resilience and Innovation: First Nations Leading the Way 5 held in Winnipeg (MB). Franco-Albertan singer/songwriter Pierre Sabourin and Jocelyne have transformed her poem À l’Orée du bonheur into a song Pierre will record in 2023. Jocelyne’s poems in Canada’s two official languages were featured on door-sized panels with drawings by visual artist Father Douglas in THE WORKS, Art and Design Festival.
Jocelyne’s novel, J’attendrai, was published by Les Éditions des Plaines (2003), and in 2012, La Coalition des femmes de l’Alberta published her bilingual collection of poems, Mes muses: du sacré au profane. Now retired, Jocelyne facilitates writing workshops for Francophone seniors, members of FAFA (La Fédération des aînés franco-albertains).
I attended a strict French-Canadian Catholic high school where we got a good general education, but I only started to like literature at Teachers’ College in Fredericton, N.B. Professor Marguerite Michaud’s passion for words and my father’s influence piqued my interest. My father and I had held many discussions about language, vocabulary, and every other topic under the sun. He had a real mastery of the French language, and would often use words I did not know, thus sending me to the dictionary to assuage my curiosity and develop my vocabulary. I now hold a Masters’ Degree in Études françaises, from the University of Sherbrooke (PQ).
Anne Hébert, Mary Oliver, and Leonard Cohen are my favourite poets.
I started writing poetry in order to get away from all the literary analysis I had done over my years as a mature graduate student. I wanted to write short “life capsules”. Poetry helped me deal with grief after I lost a dear friend to AIDS in 1997. It also allowed me to celebrate the great joy of the birth of my granddaughter that same year. It is around that time that I started thinking of myself as a poet. I self-published two hand-crafted chap books of poetry: Forêts et Océans/Of Trees and Sea et Gens d’ici, gens d’ailleurs/ People from Here and Afar.
To be honest and write honestly even when it makes people uncomfortable. I had a father who encouraged me to remember my dreams and a mother who derided my artistic nature with her scathing words: “You dreamer, you”. So, I mainly started to write after I had raised my two children.
Nature, daily life, an overheard word or phrase are all good starting points/prompts for a piece of writing. Mary Oliver, Anne Hébert, Robert Lalonde, Dominique Fortier, Leonard Cohen and Marguerite Duras are some of my favourite writers.
Paradoxically, we are told to write what we know, but I believe our job is to get out of our own way and let the writing happen, let the words take us to unexpected places, to untold stories, untold truths. My father’s unconditional love and the pride in a well-turned phrase he instilled in me got me to where I am today.