Interview with Arjun Chaudhuri for Teksto.in

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Teksto.in is a new online news, information, and entertainment magazine published weekly out of Assam, India. Today’s issue features an online interview that I gave to Arjun Chaudhuri, a Teksto.in patron and an Assistant Professor of English at Gurucharan College, Silchar.

You can read the interview here:

http://www.teksto.in/article-a-week-with-julian-peters.php

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Anniversary of The Battle of The Plains of Abraham

Two-hundred and fifty-seven years ago today, on September 13, 1759, a British army under the command of General James Wolfe defeated a French army under the command of Louis-Joseph de Montcalm just outside the walls of Quebec City. Wolfe’s victory at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, as it came to be known, would give the British command of the city after a more than two-month-long siege, and greatly contribute to the final conquest of New France one year later.

The outcome of the battle was largely a result of the surprise effect achieved by the British in attacking the city from the westward side, rather than from the eastern Beauport shore, as Montcalm was convinced they must do. Wolfe absurdly risky plan involved ferrying his men across the St. Lawrence river in the dead of night, sending a detachment of light infantry to climb up the steep cliffs west of the city and take out the sentries guarding the only path leading up these cliffs, and then leading the rest of his troops up this path to a point which was actually in between (!) the two main bodies of the French army. When the sun rose over Quebec,  its inhabitants awoke to find Wolfe’s entire army lined up in front of the city on the side where they had least expected them. This prompted Montcalm into making a disastrous sortie in which the French army was roundly defeated. Montcalm was fatally wounded at this point, and Wolfe was killed on the spot. In spite of the loss of their commander, the English were then able to wheel about and fight off the smaller contingent of the French army that was marching towards them from the other direction. Five days later, Quebec capitulated, and the Union Jack was hoisted over the capital of New-France.

In this brief extract from my graphic-novel-in-progress recounting the events of 1759, Montcalm argues with the Governor of New France, the Canadian-born Pierre de Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil, on the best strategy for fending off the British. Montcalm generally proved himself an able commander during his four years of campaigning in North America, but his military instincts failed him in the end. This quote from his journal, which appears in condensed English translation in the dialogue here, is particularly damning in light of the events of September 13: “Il ne faut pas croire que les ennemis aient des ailes pour, la même nuit, traverser, débarquer, monter des rampes rompues, et escalader, d’autant que pour la dernière opération, il faut porter des échelles.”

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English Translation of Émile Nelligan’s “Déraison” and “Le Fou” in Winning Writers

scan0014The latest issue of the Winning Writers (https://winningwriters.com/) newsletter is out today, and it features my comics adaptation of nineteenth-century Montreal poet Émile Nelligan’s “Déraison” and “Le fou”, now accompanied with my English translation of the two poems. I am reproducing the translations here. They are very literal, as the objective was simply to give English readers of the newsletter the sense of what Nelligan was going on about (as much as can be discerned in these brilliant but clearly rather mad ravings) in the reproduced original French text in my  comics adaptations. You can read the comic here: https://julianpeterscomics.com/deraison-and-le-fou-by-emile-nelligan/

Insanity

Yet now I have the vision of bleeding shadows
And of spirited horses stamping,
And it’s like the shouts of hobos, hiccupping of children,
Wheezing of slow exhalations.

Tell me, from where do they come to me, all these hoarse hurricanes,
Furies of fifes or drums?
One might think it dragoons galloping through the village,
With helmets of a radiant murkiness…

The Madman

Gondolar! Gondolar!
You are no longer out on the road till very late.

They murdered the poor idiot,
They crushed him underneath a cart,
And then, after the idiot, the dog.

They made a big, big hole for them there.
Dies irae, dies illa
On your knees before that hole there!

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“I am in Bed with You, too” by Emma Barnes for New Zealand National Poetry Day

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This August 25th, as part of New Zealand’s National Poetry Day, Victoria University of Wellington’s Wai-te-ata Press hosted Transpositions, an event celebrating New Zealand women poets and their translators. One of the event’s organizers, Francesca Benocci (My “Partner in Rhyme” in my recent Oscar Wilde poem adaptation), asked me to contribute an image illustrating a passage from the work of one of the featured woman poets that could be projected during some of the presentations. I chose a couple of lines from Emma Barnes’s startlingly image-rich poem “I am in Bed with You, too,” which you can read in its entirety here:

I am in Bed with You, too

I am in bed with you. I’m always on the left.
I am left of myself. I am creasing up in time.
Folded in two and three. Paper can be folded
in half seven times. I’ve got the folded creases
of thirty three years worth of nimble fingers in
my skin. I am better than origami. I am better.
I was always trying to reach you. I was calling
by phone, in the old dial style set. I punched
numbers and tapped screens. My finger traversed
the front of the sun. The number is 660-
816. 660-816. I was always calling you to tell
me how to keep myself alive. But none of you
knew. And so I had to invent myself out of a
paper bag without letting anyone know what
I was doing. Walking up the very longest street
in my body alone, knowing it would take forever.
Here’s the final brick to slot into the mud house
I’ve made. It’s the brick that tells you I didn’t
die just yet. It’s the brick that says I slaughtered
myself from the inside out taking each tiny
dead figure that no longer worked then
attaching it to a hook in the sky. Empty as a
golem I woke up next to you. Empty as bed
I walked around until I got here. I have refilled
myself like a pen. I have recalibrated
the frequency at which I vibrate. I have sent
out a search party for myself and they returned
triumphant with the you that’s me on their
shoulders. We hugged together alone in a
room for hours. And then debuted ourselves
as one single person. A single person who
is almost 12000 shells inside a bone cage.

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The Bombardment of Quebec

First draft of a brief extract from from my ongoing graphic novel project recounting the siege of Quebec City and the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759.scan0001scan0002

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Le Poète Public honours me with a poem!

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A couple of days ago, one of my Italian students brought me a poem about me by Robert Séguin, Montreal’s very own public poet. Le Poète Public has set up his made-to-order poetry booth on Prince-Arthur Street, just next to Carré St-Louis, where he will compose poems on whatever subject one desires, typing them up on an old-fashioned typewriter. After telling him about my practice of adapting classic poetry into comics, my student came back to the booth fifteen minutes later and voilà, the public poet had produced this very clever bit of word-play.

I google searched the Poète Public and found this image courtesy of Overblog: http://montreal-les-caribous-et-moi.over-blog.com/2016/06/l-enigmatique-poete-de-rue.html

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As well as choosing what is quite possibly Montreal’s most picturesque street corner to set up shop, Robert Séguin is clearly the coolest-looking Montrealer since Émile Nelligan (who lived just a few doors down from this very spot, as it happens).

 

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Experimentation with white on black drawing

sansalvadorIn an effort to imitate the great early twentieth-century wood engravings by such artists as Lynd Ward, but without having to figure out how to do actual wood engravings, I thought I would try my hand at drawing on black “scratch board” paper. I went out to buy some at the art supply store today, and I was so excited that I spent the remaining half hour of my break from work sitting on a park bench drawing this weird seascape off the top of my head. I was going for something à la Claude Lorrain, but it ended up looking more like the kind of chintzy fantasy art one sometimes sees being created by street performers. Still, it’s a really interesting and fun medium, and I look forward to experimenting with it further!

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