Former Poets Laureate
Pierre DesRuisseaux, 2009-2011
Born in Sherbrooke, in the Eastern Townships, in 1945, Pierre DesRuisseaux graduated from the Université de Montréal in philosophy. He was successively an editorial writer for regional and national weeklies, including Le petit journal, a proofreader and a foreign correspondent (Middle East) for the magazine Sept-Jours
Mr DesRuisseaux has published 14 collections of his poetry. His first book of poems, Lettres, published by Hexagone in 1979, was greeted as a revelation in Quebec’s literary world. In 1989, Monème earned Canada’s highest literary honour, the Governor General’s Award.
Another of his books, Le Noyau, was described by Louise Proulx in Livres et auteurs québécois as an extraordinary mingling of philosophy, semantics, literature, politics and poetry. His work has frequently been read on Radio-Canada and published in a number of Quebec and foreign literary reviews. He has written on popular culture in Quebec, including the Livre des proverbes québécois and the Dictionnaire des expressions québécoises; the latter was chosen by the Association pour l’éducation interculturelle du Québec (AÉIQ) as one of 21 works that are representative of Quebec’s collective identity. Pierre DesRuisseaux is also the editor of the Dictionnaire des proverbes québécois, which Simon Fraser University’s Centre de ressources francophone called an invaluable tool for all teachers who want to teach their pupils more than language skills. Among his other books are works on sayings and popular beliefs and practices, as well as an anthology of traditional North American Aboriginal poetry (Hymnes à la Grande Terre).
A certified translator (English, Spanish) with the Canada Council for the Arts since 1983 and with the federal Translation Bureau since 1984, he has translated the Popol Vuh, the Maya-Quiché holy scriptures, from Spanish to French in collaboration with Daisy Amaya (published by VLB, Le Castor Astral, Montreal and Paris), and Gabriel Dumont, in collaboration with François Lanctôt, for which he won the Canada Council’s Translation Award in 1986.
In 1995, Triptyque released his bilingual anthology of 25 English-Canadian poets, Contre‑taille, which was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award the following year. In 1997, Mr DesRuisseaux published a translation of a collection of poems by Louis Dudek, leader of the Montreal school of English-language poetry, called Dudek, l’essentiel, with an introduction by Michael Gnarowski. In March 2000, Triptyque released his critical anthology of some 31 Anglo-Quebec poets, entitled Co‑incidences : poètes anglophones du Québec, with a preface by Ken Norris. He is continuing to research popular culture, popular poetry and ethnolinguistic studies. Cited in a number of national and foreign anthologies, Pierre DesRuisseaux publishes both fiction and verse through a number of publishers, in Quebec and abroad. He has taken part in literary festivals and events (Festival franco-anglais de poésie, lecture, Centre d’action poétique, France) and collaborates regularly on Canadian and foreign literary reviews, including Ruptures (translations from the Spanish and fiction), Sud (France), The Revue, Osiris (USA), Estuaire, Liberté and The Review (UK).