Yesterday, it was my privilege and pleasure to interview guest author, Cendrine Marrouat. Cendrine was born in southern France. A French-English translator and former teacher, she immigrated to Canada in 2003 and, since then, has concentrated on writing poetry and plays, as well as developing her skills as freelance writer and photographer.
Watch the first part of the interview:
Following is an abridged version of our interview on Skype. To watch and listen to the full interview, scroll to the movie at the bottom of this post and press play.
AS: Cendrine, you’ve written five books of poetry and created one spoken word album. The first of your books was published in 2006, is that correct? Your website says that you began your writing career in 2005. What, exactly, do you mean by that, and when would you say that you actually began writing?
CM: We all start when we are teenagers, in our youth. We all write sappy poetry, or whatever, so I really started writing in 2005. One night at the beginning of the year, I grabbed a pen and paper and just started writing. I wrote my first poem in an hour. I hated poetry before that, so that’s really interesting. So I had my first poem written in one hour, and then all of a sudden the bug hit me, and I started writing like crazy. That’s how I started.
AS: I often talk to my students about writing from their heart, and by that I mean writing with honesty and vulnerability. What does writing from the heart mean to you, and how do you use the poetic form to achieve that?
CM: I see poetry more like a language of the soul and of the mind. It’s really a journey of the mind and the heart. When you write poetry, you share your essence, your self. That’s why I agree with you that when you write — it doesn’t have to be poetry, it can be short stories or novels — whatever you do, you have to pour your heart and mind into what you do and be very honest.
AS: For you personally, why poetry? Why do you think that was the form of writing that spoke most to you?
CM: What I love about poetry is that poetry and music are very similar in that you can take any topic you want and turn it into anything you want. What I found about novels and plays and short stories is that you have to delve into details that can be kind of complex and confusing for some people. With poetry, on the other hand, you don’t have to tell much. People can understand the story you are trying to describe through their own feelings and their own experiences. For example, in my poetry, I have talked a lot about death. I talk a lot about topics that people are sometimes afraid to talk about.
Through poetry I was able to spread my messages without it bothering people in the way it might bother them if I was writing a novel or a play or short story, because I appeal to their imagination through poetry.
AS: How have your books been received so far?
CM: I would say that, in general, my poetry has been well received. People feel that there is a message in my poetry that is different than most people write because of the topics I deal with. I would say that the book that has received the most interest is my collection of poems on death.
AS: What brought you to that place in your life where you wanted to write about death?
CM: My mom committed suicide in August of 2005, and I was ready for it because she had tried to commit suicide many times before. So I was kind of ready for it, which made the process of grieving much easier for me, which doesn’t mean that I don’t miss my mother, it just made it easier on me. I realized that I had something I could do for others, that her was something I could do. And I wanted to offer my own vision of what death may be. I wanted to offer something positive for a change that would give hope to as many people as possible.
AS: You have a new collection of poetry, Five Years and Counting: A Journey into the Mind of Soul Poetry. Is there a theme to this collection?
CM: Five Years and Counting is a very special collection. First of all, it’s only out for members of the Facebook fan page, so it’s not really out yet. When I started writing, I knew I wanted to publish books. I was reluctant, but I knew I should try. It’s a book about growth and evolution. Over the years, I began to see poetry as a reflection of the human mind, and I realized that the topics I dealt with in my poetry were a reflection of my own evolution. So I gathered the poetry I had written over the years and grouped them in the order to show the basic evolution I went through as a human being and as a writer.
There are more than 150 poems in this book, classified according to four chapters: Birth and Childhood, The Teenage Years, Adulthood, and Elevation. Elevation is about when someone finally grieves well and understand that life and death are kind of intertwined and can actually grieve in a very healthy and start enjoying life, despite the pain, the grief, and the sadness.
AS: In a way, it really fits with the theme of Writing Through Life, because you are writing through the evolution of a life. It is a kind of memoir. In a recent review of Five Years by Randi Flynn, she quotes you as saying that one of your greatest wishes is that, “people realize the greatness in trials. We must embrace pain and joy alike to be able to experience life fully.” I completely agree with this statement and often encourage people to write about their emotional responses to experiences as a way of processing, healing, and finding the gifts in those experiences. Additionally, I find that people often have a more difficult time writing about joy than pain. Would you say that is correct? And what would you add to that?
CM: Yes, I totally agree with you, about the fact that people find it easier to write about pain than about joy, because we live in societies that are emotionally stifled. In other words, it’s bad to say that we are happy because there are so many people who are sad around us. It sounds almost selfish to say I’m happy. It’s interesting how shy people are when you ask them to write something they are happy to write about. We have lived for generations where it is politically correct to feel pity for others. That is why I try to focus on the positive in my poetry because I think there is enough negativity in this world. I don’t need to add to the pile.
AS: Tell us a little about your writing habits. For example, do you write every day, what times of day do you write, and where do you like to write?
CM: These days, I’m extremely busy because I write for Examiner.com. I’m the Winnipeg Spirituality Examiner and the Winnipeg Art Examiner, so I mostly write articles for them, as well as others. So the time I dedicate to poetry is minimal these days. But I write every day. There’s not a specific time of day that I write. I’m writing all day long. I work in my dining room, usually, but I work wherever the fancy takes me.
AS: Do you keep a journal of any kind? If so, how do you use it?
CM: I used to. Not anymore, because I have my poetry!
AS: In my experience, many people think that their stories are to mundane and boring to write about. Do you have any advice for them?
CM: As I mentioned earlier, we live in societies that stifle our emotions, and we believe that we’re not interesting because we’re not Miley Cyrus, not famous singers and actors, so we’re not interesting. But we all go through life, and we all have issues, and no matter what the issues are, we deserve and have the right to be in pain, the right to have a mundane life. It’s all right to be like everyone else and all right to be different from everyone else.
But I would say.. that though it seems that I have a mundane life because I’m writing a lot, my mind travels a lot. So if everyone in this world allowed their minds to travel the way mind does, then they wouldn’t have the mundane lives they have. They would have so much to talk about and to write about. I believe in God, and this in itself gives me so many things to talk about. The problem for many people is that they haven’t found their passions. That’s why they think their lives are not interesting. But as soon as you have a passion in your life even the mundane becomes interesting.
AS: I asked if you would bring one of your poems to read to us today. Would you like to begin?
CM: This is from the new book. My poem is titled “Death Unleashed.” It is also on my spoken word CD.
Listen to Cendrine read her poem:
Download the full 20-minute interview (138 MB): Author Interview with Cendrine Marrouat
To learn more about Cendrine’s work, visit her website at www.cendrinemarrouat.com.