b. 1943


Born in Montreal, the poet, novelist and essayist Nicole Brossard has published more than 30 books since 1965. She received numerous awards during her career, including the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, which was awarded to her twice (in 1974 and 1984). She is among the leaders of a generation who revisited poetry in the 1970s in Quebec. She contributed to the dissemination of women’s literature by participating in the creation of journals and the publication of an anthology of women’s literature in Quebec. She is also known for her feminist commitment, which is reflected in her poetry, fictional works and essays. 


Did you read poetry when you were in high school? Is there a particular poem that you loved when you were a teenager?

In elementary school, I don’t remember. But from high school, I recall François Villon’s poem, « Frères humains qui après nous vivez » [this translates into English as “My Brothers Who Live after Us”]. Like many, I enjoyed the rebellious and iconoclastic side of Villon. I also remember learning by heart the poem « Le Pont Mirabeau » by Apollinaire. 

When did you first start writing poetry? And then when did you start thinking of yourself as a poet?

I started writing when I was 13 or 14 years old. After the initiation of my first publications Aube à la saison [Dawn to the Season] with Trois Publisher in 1965 and Mordre en sa chair [To Bite in One’s Flesh] in 1966, which means I was around 22–23 years old.

What do you think a poet’s “job” is?

The poet renews silences, words, and music in us. His or her “work” is always on the side of life, no matter the wounds and grievances. 

If you have a poem in our anthology what inspired you to write it?

I wrote this poem thinking of the lesbian bar Madame Arthur in downtown Montréal.

When I entered the bar for the first time, I had the wonderful image of women writers in conversation. The way they were sitting reminded me of paintings in which characters hold a special pause in space with special gestures. It was beautiful because of the image but as well for the fact that two of these women were writers that I admire.

If you had to choose one poem to memorize from our anthology, which one would it be?

« J’écris dans le seul » [“I Write in the Alone”] by Normand de Bellefeuille.

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