Grafton author Martine Jacquot reflects on poetry, Moroccan visit

Sara Keddy
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Kings County Advertiser/Register

Poetry connects French literature and poetess Martine Jacquot of Grafton to the world, but she never forces it. In fact, her best life experiences come by surprise.

“A year-and-a-half ago, I got an email from someone I didn’t know – he was interested in my poetry.”

Mustafa Badaoui, a writer and translator who found Jacquot’s French language poetry on internet sites they both visit, is in Morocco.

“We started talking, we have the same philosophy in our poetry. He wanted to translate me into Arabic, that it sounds better in Arabic even than French. He did and my work now is bigger than it was in French.”

Jacquot is now writing a weekly column sharing her philosophy of literature in an international Arabic journal, her poetry is available and read in Libya, Syria and Yemen – “all countries I’ve never been,” she marvels.

“If I type my name in Arabic in Google, I can find my name all over the world.”

Her new fans say her writing is full of imagery – even music - that reads well in Arabic and she doesn’t mind being called a “prophet of beauty,” as Arabic readers refer to their poets.

When Badaoui said, come to Morocco, Jacquot was amazed as he arranged her trip: bringing Moroccan writers together, the French embassy, Moroccan universities. She left home here for the North African country May 19, and had a whirlwind visit through June 5 of writers’ workshops, readings, visiting schools, touring parts of the country by train, having tea on the floor of a traditional Moroccan home.

The highlight: Jacquot and Badaoui and two other authors launched a book of poetry in both French and Arabic.

“We started with the idea of continents going away with the drift, that people don’t know each other and even hate each other,” she says. “It was a great launch – and my birthday. We didn’t stop signing books.”

Morocco, she found, is a country that loves its king, government and culture. Writers write what they like, conversations range anywhere, the life is open and modern – but women are in the background, often covered with clothing and scarves, and excluded from more public events. And right next door, Jacquot was very moved to see the walled and guarded international border with Algeria, separating the two countries – even families – since the 1970s. She even wrote a poem about it.

“It’s very sad; people just drive by either side very slowly and wave. If you try and cross, they shoot you.”

She sent her poem to Badaoui, who said it was “nice,” but she’s hoping for more: that he’ll publish it, that it will stir comment.

“I have friends that will come here, and I love to show my home to them. When they write about it, that’s the best thanks I can get for having them. “

Jacquot’s friends now come from many points: she was in Russia and Cameroon last year to share her writing (then hosting her friend, the prince of Cameroon, here a few months ago), she travels with her family, is a member of many international poetry and literature websites, exchanging comments with many other writers there.

As for what’s next, she has a new French book coming out, the Moroccan poetry book is available and she continues to write her weekly column.

Travel?  “Nothing planned yet – I just wait! I am ready to go, there is so much to see and do. You have to be ready to go anywhere, sleep anywhere – I’m easy going.

“Mustafa and I were talking about coincidence: how come we were both interested in each other’s work? Does coincidence exist? What we both are is poets of the world.”

Geographic location: Morocco, Libya, Syria Yemen Cameroon Algeria Russia

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