Roxanne Lajoie, Self-Directed Writer’s Residency, July 2016

Nature Writing

Something like the woodland sounds will be heard to echo through the leaves of a good book.
Henry David THOREAU, Journal, June 20th 1840

Henry David Thoreau is commonly known as the father of Nature Writing. Book after book, he had documented the encounter between man and nature. Man’s relationship to nature is an important part of my writing process. I often turn to nature myself when I write. I am especially fascinated by flora, wild or cultivated. Fascinated by the way people try to tame nature and the way nature, in the end, always do by its own.

Geopoetics
I had always been of the persuasion that the richest poetics come from contact with the earth, from a plunge into biospheric space, from an attempt to read the lines of the world.
Kenneth WHITE, Institute of Geopoetics text inaugural, 1989
Being a member of La Traversée- atelier géopoétique since 2004, I meet the need to venture out and explore new territories through what we called Atelier nomade (Nomadic Workshop). Once a year, we organize a 72 hours excursion, around a reflection theme, with the intention of developing an environmentally sensitive report and renewing the reading of the landscape. At the end, the reflection can take a number of creative form such as writing, photography, sketching, cartography…
For example, in June 2015, we held a workshop called « En sentinelle dans les méandres de la rivière Saint-Charles » (Sentinel in the meandering Saint-Charles River).We walked the banks of this Quebec City River and canoed from its source to its mouth. We are now preparing a collective publication that will cover the exploration/reflection of this specific space.
My personal writing is marked by that approach, start by taking a stroll. As Rebecca Solnit says in Wanderlust: A History of Walking, “Walking shares with making and working that crucial element of engagement of the body and the mind with the world, of knowing the world through the body and the body through the world.” To this inevitable truth, Luanne Armstrong adds in The Light Through the Trees, Reflections on Farming, “Walking unites all the disparate elements of my world, mind and body, human and animal, the past and the present, inside and out. Every walk is a narrative about language and silence, about presence and about forgetting.”
I never go hiking without my notebook. It is important to capture the feeling at the moment that it reveals.

Haïbun
Snap your finger stop the world – rain falls harder
The bottoms of my shoes are clean from walking in the rain
Jack KEROUAC, The books of Haïku

I find the geopoetic’s approach perfectly imbodied by the ancient Japanese poetry, called Haïku, and even more in a form of travel journal called Haïbun. The 17th Century poet monk, Matsuo Basho, father of those two writing forms, wrote this hybrid, alternating fragments of prose and haiku, to traces is months-long journeys by foot. Haïbun imagery follows two paths: the external images observed on route, and the internal images that move through the traveler’s mind during the journey. It provides a fresh perspective through a lens that focuses on nature and landscape. While the prose describes and transmits sensations and reflections, the haiku fixes the image.
In 2013, I did a family roadtrip in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, which inspired me a haïbun, who was just published (janvier 2016) in Le Persil, a Swiss Journal.
Last summer, I started another haïbun from my geopoetic expedition in Mount Washington, New Hampshire. With this writer’s residence, I intend to pursue my explorations of the North America wilderness.

STATEMENT OF INTENT FOR PROJECT 

Writing a Haïbun of my Vernon Journey, a Hiking Journal interleaved with haïku.

Écrire le voyage, c’est mettre en mots ce qui n’est pas d’emblée de l’ordre du lisible, que l’on pense à la surface terrestre, aux forêts, aux montagnes, aux fleuves, aux êtres humains rencontrés sur la route, à leurs langues et coutumes, etc. 

Rachel BOUVET, Vers une approche géopoétique, 2015.

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Walking, biking and exploration 

First of all, I will explore the surroundings of Kalamalka Lake by hiking the trails in Vernon. Walking the Riverbanks of the lake is an invitation to dawdling and discovery. Being an ally, nature has the ability to soothe me, to stimulate me. Especially captivated by flora, I will pay close attention to trees and flowers. Colours and smells, among other sensations, will attract me.

Biking and canoeing will be other ways of discovering the landscape. More than a dawdling, the biking excursion of the Kettle Valley Railway, for example, will help understand how past is re-interpreted and shaped to present needs.

To know and understand a region require a complete immersion. Obviously, two weeks does not allow me to fully grasp cultural particularity of Vernon and the Okanagan Valley, but I will still try to capture the soul of the place. Rambled the City of Vernon will allow me the opportunity to feel its uniqueness. I want to create some habits in order to observe and then meet some inhabitants. For example, I will adopt a Coffee Shop in town where I will go each morning to take the pulse of the place.

To even get more familiar, I will read some books, written about British Columbia nature, such as :

– ARMSTRONG, Luanne. The light through the trees, Half Moon Bay, Caitlin Press, 2012.

– DOUGLAS, Gilean (Grant MADISON). River for my Sidewalk, Toronto, Dent Editor, 1953.

– GAYTON, Don. Okanagan Odyssey : Journeys through Terrain, Terroir and Culture, Calgary, Rocky Mountain Books, 2010.

– GLICKMAN, Susan. The Picturesque and the Sublime : a Poetics of the Canadian Landscape, Montreal and Kingston, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998.

-VERNON OUTDOORS CLUB. Hicking trails, 7th Edition.

Finally, I will meet Sandrine de Borman, Belgium artist in residence (Fresh! AiR Themed Artist Residency), who will stay at Caetani House between June 20th and July 29th. By her side, I will list the specific flora of the region. I did a Venice workshop with her in October 2015 and we are preparing an atelier nomade for 2017, in the same place.

Writing 

During the rambles and expeditions, I will write impressions and sensations in my notebook with the intention of writing a Haïbun of my Vernon Journey. The themes I intend to explore are connected to the nature and the way we interact with it.

If this sounds interesting to the Caetani Center, I could lead a haïku workshop and a half day poetic field trip.

EDUCATION 

UNIVERSITÉ DE MONTRÉAL : Montréal, Québec M.A. Études françaises 10/97 Specializing in Création littéraire (fables)

UNIVERSITÉ DE MONTRÉAL : Montréal, Québec B.A. Études françaises 06/94 Major in Langue et littérature 10/93 Minor in Pratiques d’écriture 06/94

WORK EXPERIENCE 

COLLÈGE LIONEL-GROULX : Sainte-Thérèse, Québec 01/98 to Present

French and literature teacher

COLLÈGE MARIE-VICTORIN : Montréal, Québec Winter 1998 Semestre

French teacher

VILLE DE MONTRÉAL : Montréal, Québec 03/97 to 12/97

French linguistic reviser

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATION 

La Traversée atelier de géopoétique Member since 2005

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