October by Carolyn Marie Souaid
Finalist for The A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry in 2000
On October 10, 1970, at 6:30 pm, Quebec’s Minister of Labour, Pierre Laporte, was kidnapped outside of his Saint-Lambert home by the Chenier Cell of a terrorist group known as the FLQ. One week later, he was found dead in the trunk of a car.
Shortlisted for the QWF A.M. Klein Poetry Award, October is a collection of poetry set in the quiet Montreal suburb of Saint Lambert, where the clash between the “two solitudes” came to a head in 1970 with the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Pierre Laporte by the FLQ. For the narrator, growing up in those days meant living through one of the darkest episodes in Canadian history, a time when army tanks, bombings and other random acts of violence became l’ordre du jour.
October spans three decades of Quebec life, chronicling one woman’s attempt to forge some kind of reconciliation between the “warring” cultures, to find the common ground of the French and the English. It is a personal, unabashed look at her own marriage to a French Quebecer which finds her straddling two worlds, two cultures, two very different mentalities. From start to end, echoes of the October Crisis are carefully woven into the text, a constant reminder that the fractious past is never very far behind.
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