For Herménégilde Chiasson, every work of art is both a cry and a prayer. Beatitudes reflects this perspective by connecting everyday events — people losing their keys or their cellphone signals — to the universal. Sighs, silences, and human utterances all become part of an ongoing incantation that ranges from the personal to the textual, from the local to the cosmopolitan. In this postmodern "sermon on the mount," Chiasson has created a tour de force at once compassionate and complex, thoughtful and illuminating.
A meditation on what it means to be human, Chiasson writes from a deep sense of melancholy. Exploring the common bonds of humanity, he creates a tonal montage that probes our notions of who we are and who we might become. Beginning in mid-sentence and ending not with a period but a comma, Beatitudes is Herménégilde Chiasson's most important work to date, with beautiful lines that continue to echo long after they have been read. It will be released simultaneoulsy in French by Editions Prise de Parole.
Jo-Anne Elder is the editor of Ellipse. She has translated a dozen novels and poetry collections including Herménégilde Chiasson's Climates and Conversations, both of which were shortlisted for the Atlantic Poetry Prize.
"Lovely collection... his best and most important work to date." — Telegraph Journal
"Beautiful... powerful... complex... compassionate... a classic." — Daily Gleaner
"In translating Herménégilde Chiasson's Beatitudes, Jo-Anne Elder has met the challenges of both the emotionally charged content of the original, and its specific literary form, the litany. She has movingly rendered the complexity expressed in this contemporary "sermon on the mount," while providing an English text rich with sensuality, rhythm and a sense of communion" — quoted from the comments of the Governor General's Award for Literary Translation jury
Pub date: October 19, 2007