• Carmen Marie Fabio

Unplugged Pincourt poetry gaining popularity


PHOTO BY JULIE HAMEL

The first Thursday of every month welcomes a group of literary enthusiasts who present their poems or stories, in French or English, in a creative word and idea exchange in the Fauburg de l’Île in Pincourt.

In a world dotted with handheld electronic communication devices virtually always within reach as we bask in the blue glow of our small screens, a refreshing communication quirk still exists once a month where poets, story-tellers, and word lovers get together for a face-to-face bilingual evening of literary interchange.

On the first Thursday of the month, a small crowd gathers at Kaffecino, a coffee shop in the Fauburg de l’Île Shopping Plaza in Pincourt, complete with paper notebooks, pens, and ideas, fueled by coffee, tea, and a love of words.

“The idea behind this was to get people out,” said Kafe Poe organizer Julie Hamel, better known by her penname Julie de Belle. “We’re going on our second year and we’ve explored themes in the past like Black History Month for example.” De Belle said the readings, though usually bilingual French/English, have included Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese with accompanying translations.

“We also include the use of music,” said de Belle, describing a recent storytelling accompanied by jazz riffs by a young local guitarist named Félix Bélanger. “Last year, we had a woman from Beaconsfield who came and played us some Janis Joplin on her electric guitar.”

Though most people present are from the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region, others have joined in from Montreal to take part in what appears to be a thriving literary exchange. To date, the events draw a monthly crowd of up to 25 participants who, in the past, have included names like Hudson’s Louise Carson and Marie Desjardins, and Nane Couzier, a literary heavyweight from France.

As a former English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teacher who has taught locally and abroad, de Belle also contributes to the local online poetry magazine Sunday@six. The idea to have a monthly meeting of budding literary talent was borne from a simple visit to Kaffecino’s one day for a coffee and she asked owner Pierre Castonguay, “Would it be possible…?” and the rest is poetic history.

Evenings typically start with de Belle reading a poem in French and in English and turning the microphone over to the crowd. On a recent visit, participant topics included an ode to woodworking, reflections on a trip to Hungary, an exploration of democracy, and an amusing take on the intricacies of communication in our digitized world. Though the crowd was mostly in their 50s, attendees ranged in age from 18 to senior citizens and de Belle said a younger demographic is now taking part.

Newcomers are not obligated to take part on stage and are invited to just come and see if the event is to their liking. “Just come check it out,” said de Belle. “Eventually, you might feel like partaking.”

Kafe Poe will have a spot at the upcoming Nuit Blanche Friday, November 25, at Bibliothèque Marie-Ugay, 1300 Don Quichotte Boulevard in Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot from 9 to 10:30 p.m. All languages are welcome. Poets are invited to read their work at the open-mic and to bring copies of their poems to hang on the installation titled ‘The Poetry Clothes Line.’

If you’d like to take part in an upcoming Kafe Poe, or just stop in to listen, the next one will take place December 1, 7 p.m., at Faubourg de l'Île Shopping Centre, 101 Cardinal-Léger Blvd. in Pincourt.

“The idea is just to have fun,” said de Belle. “Get out of the house. Share. Talk. See real faces!”

If you’d like more information on Julie de Belle’s work, consult http://versatilejuliedebe.wixsite.com/julie-de-belle.

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