An on-the-scene report of a childhood abroad. A child's vision of real-world events made real (and unreal) by the presence of his father.
Memories of snow falling on Quebec City's copper roofs; scientists tracking the location of a sinking submarine near the Russian Coast. Children flipping bright kopeks at a dancing bear outside a flea market; a translator awaking from a suicide bombing with ears ringing, surrounded by destruction. A young boy watching his father report the news on TV as hostages hold wet handkerchiefs to their mouths, trying not to breathe too much.
Across the street, a red sun sets the windows of the Hotel Ukraina on fire. The tallest of Stalin's seven sisters. We huddle on the couch in our pyjamas. My mother holding a remote in her lap. Static sky, bad reception. The TV clearing its throat. My father's body, cut in half, moving up and down the screen.
This remarkably confident debut collection offers three long prose poems, each divided into 19 sections, fusing images of bucolic coastal summers, a father fixed by a television broadcast, and the colours of a Moscow winter with vividly depicted scenes of gunfire, media scrums, and live reporting. In this unusual hybrid of the personal and the historical, Dominque Bernier-Cormier tenders alternating perspectives on what is said, what is seen, and where the silence begins.
"How impossible languages are, how they fail to deliver on the promise of connection. Yet, through the deft weaving of multiple voices, the assembling and dismantling of rhythm and pattern, Bernier-Cormier finds a loophole. The poems in Correspondent come together to form a rare reportage, where the as-yet-unspoken becomes audible and signals transmit via other means: dream, song, prayer." — Sheryda Warrener
"During my years as reporter in Moscow, I covered the events Bernier-Cormier explores in this volume. In vivid and beautiful language, he gives voice to the dead and form to history. His images, rooted in childhood recollection, are haunting. This work is at once an homage to family, to journalism, and to the intensity of youthful memories in a foreign place." — Elizabeth Palmer
Pub date: September 18, 2018