The Hardness of Matter and Water fulfills a poetic odyssey Québécois poet Pierre Nepveu began over four decades ago. Through a sequence of four prose poems, his anonymous protagonist walks from the heart of present-day Montreal into its southwestern margins, where the metropolis began centuries ago and which now "lays out its memories on the young grass." Questioning his sense of belonging, social unease and mortality as he walks, and following "a shadowy voice that neither sings nor speaks," Nepveu transports readers across wide spans of history, geography, metaphysics and speculation.
A 2016 finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry in French, rendered in English by award-winning translator Donald Winkler, The Hardness of Matter and Water is poetry at its meditative, insightful best.
About the authors
Pierre Nepveuis a Montreal critic, essayist, poet and teacher. He has received the Governor General’s Award three times—in 1997 for the collection of poems Romans-fleuves, in 1998 for the essay Intérieurs du Nouveau Monde, and in 2003 for Lignes Aériennes. His many other awards include the Québec-Paris Prize, the Prix Victor-Barbeau de l’Académie des lettres du Québec, and the Canada-Swiss Prize. Pierre Nepveu has taught in the Département d’études françaises at the Université de Montréal since 1978.
Donald Winkler is a filmmaker and translator. He won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation and has been a finalist four times. His translation of Daniel Poliquin’s La Kermesse [A Secret Between Us] was a finalist for the 2007 Giller Prize. He lives in Montreal, Quebec.
Writer, playwright, director, actor, journalist, historian, and critic, Jean-Claude Germain is a Quebec icon. He taught at the National Theatre School of Canada and was artistic director of Théâtre d’aujourd’hui (1972-1982). Well-known for his story telling on the radio, he related the year-by-year saga of the history of Montreal from 1642 to 1992 at the morning show CBF-Bonjour, the 350 episodes were ultimately published in three volumes as Le Feuilleton de Montréal/i>.
Donald Winkler was born in Winnipeg, graduated from the University of Manitoba, and did graduate study at the Yale School of Drama. From 1967 to 1995 he was a film director and writer at the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal, and since the 1980s, a translator of Quebec literature. In 1994, 2011, and 2013 he won the Governor General Award for French to English translation, and has been a finalist for the prize on three other occasions. His translation of Samuel Archibald's short story collection, "Arvida," was a finalist for the 2015 Giller Prize. He lives in Montreal, Quebec.
- Short-listed, Governor General's Literary Awards
Praise for Pierre Nepveu's The Major Verbs:
"The focus of Nepveu's extended meditations in this collection (fluidly translated by Donald Winkler) are 'the major verbs': as he puts it, 'to be born, to grow, to love, / to think, to believe, to die.' ... The Major Verbs showcases an avid and brilliant mind at work." - Barbara Carey, Toronto Star
"Pierre Nepveu's collection of poems, The Major Verbs, translated skillfully by Donald Winkler, is also wise and elegant." - Montreal Review of Books, Spring 2013
"One of the most significant Québécois poets now writing." - Carmine Starnino