Longlisted, Raymond Souster Award
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.
About the author
Dominique Bernier-Cormier was born in Quebec and spent the summers of his childhood on New Brunswick's Acadian coast. But he grew up in Moscow, Paris, and Beijing, where his father worked as a foreign Correspondent for CBC/Radio Canada television. Bernier-Cormier won the Fiddlehead's Ralph Gustafson Prize for Best Poem in 2017 for "Fabric." His poems have also been shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize, Arc's Poem of the Year Award, CV2's Young Buck Poetry Prize, and a National Magazine Award. His chapbook, Englishing, was published by Frog Hollow Press in spring 2017. He is currently a poetry editor for Rahila's Ghost Press. Correspondent is his first book.
- Short-listed, Raymond Souster Award
"A correspondent not only tells of stories happening far away — distant in time, space, and experience — but also pursues their own experiences in the larger weave of history. In Correspondent, Bernier-Cormier seeks to answer a vital and impossible question: what can the individual do when crushed by the immense forces of war and violence? He answers by crossing borders and entering his own new language of poetry in this love letter from a son to his father."
"This is a book of poetic journalism and social justice, where truth sur- mounts deception."
"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."
"The collection revives & conserves what has been forgotten or silenced ... so that its readers can relive, re-see, and remember them."
"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."