Les Éditions d’Acadie

Michel Henri, former director of Les Éditions d’AcadieInterview from Nuit Blanche, February 1984
Michel Henri, former director of Les Éditions d’Acadie
Interview from Nuit Blanche, February 1984

Les Éditions d’Acadie emerged at a highly political moment in Acadian history. What started as a protest against tuition hikes at Université de Moncton became a movement demanding francophone equality in New Brunswick (Belliveau). These protests were met with fierce opposition from anglophone politicians. The documentary film L’Acadie, l’Acadie?!? (1971) captures the rise and fall of this movement: anglophone city council members refusing to conduct proceedings involving Université de Moncton students in French, 2000 people marching in Moncton’s downtown, and Moncton police ending the student strike in a peaceful-if-tense interruption (Brault and Perrault). The film also documents the Acadian students’ struggles with identity in local, regional, and national contexts. One student cites Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s politics of federalism as a utopian ideal. Though the student protests spurred little change in public policy, they did ignite a surge in Acadian nationalism.

The student protests ended as a broader Acadian conversation reached its fever pitch (Chiasson 79). Acadian culture and all its artists, particularly its poets, were taking their crafts in bold new directions. In 1969, the Montreal-based French poetry magazine Liberté published work from then-little-known poets Léonard Forest, Raymond Guy LeBlanc, and Herménégilde Chiasson, among others. A few years later, La Revue de l’Université de Moncton would devote an entire volume to Acadian poetry (Cogswell 62). What made these poets new was not merely these early publications; rather, this new Acadian poetry diverged from the previous generation’s traditional forms and Catholic sensibilities (Boudreau, “Poetry as Action” xvii-xviii). Consider the poetry of W.P. Landry:

How oft at night I have seen, by a flash of flame,
A group of children with gold ribbons in their hair
Singing before the altar hymns to the Virgin’s name…
Like a stained-glass window I still can see them there. (Landry 33-36)

Fred Cogswell notes that the difference between old and new Acadian poetry is in how the poets describe their societies – that the old guard “exist between a conventionally accepted art-form and… idea of society, both of which bear little or no relationship to the reality that they are supposed to represent” (Cogswell 63). By contrast, the new poets marked their territory with the personal and informal. Raoul Boudreau draws attention to Raymond Guy LeBlanc’s protest language (Boudreau, “Poetry” xix): “Tomorrow / We shall live as secret planets / With slow anger and the upright wisdom of dreams” (9-11).

In 1972, on the heels of the Acadian poetry issues of Liberté and Revue de l’Université de Moncton, Université de Moncton professors Melvin Gallant, Laurent Lavoie, and Gérard LeBlanc founded the print-publishing house Éditions d’Acadie (Brun i). Their launch attracted many of the Acadians published in French-language journals, and it was on this poetry that the publisher built its foundation. Their first release was Cri de terre (1972), Raymond Guy LeBlanc’s debut collection. Melvin Gallant and Pierre-André Arcand – then-poetry editor for Éditions d’Acadie – offered to publish Herménégilde Chiasson’s poetry after hearing him read “Eugénie Melanson” (Chiasson 83-84). Between LeBlanc’s Cri de terre and Chiasson’s premier collection Mourir à Scoudouc (1974), Éditions d’Acadie published two other essential texts: Acadie Rock (1973) by Guy Arsenault, and Saisons antérieures (1973) by Léonard Forest. These four poets and their books, described by Hans Runte as a “poetry of grievance” (84), were not only the first original works published by Éditions d’Acadie, but also “the first books published on Acadian soil” (Elder 175, n6). Les Éditions d’Acadie would publish a best-of collection from Ronald Després, Paysages en contrebande… à la frontière du songe (1974), in this same launch window. This brought the work of the Acadian poet who pre-figured the whole new wave under the same banner of contemporaries (Boudreau, “Une Poésie” 9). The works Éditions d’Acadie published from 1972–1974 created a distinct Acadian identity in Canadian literature (Masson 6), resulting in a unique branch of academic literary study.

Les Éditions d’Acadie would expand its resources and publish hundreds of books in many genres over the years, such as historical texts and cookbooks. The publisher’s three founding professors would also release or edit other titles with Éditions d’Acadie. To commemorate their tenth anniversary, the press published eleven new books (Gair 82). This included Pionnier de la nouvelle Acadie: Joseph Gueguen, 1741–1825 (1984) by historian Régis Brun, one of the student protestors from Université de Moncton. To mark New Brunswick’s bicentennial, the press released Langues et littératures au Nouveau-Brunswick (1986), a collection of scholarly essays on the province’s literature.

Éditions d’Acadie ceased operations in 2000. Some of its original works have been re-printed by other publishers. Recent examples include the Éditions Perce-Neige edition of Chiasson’s Mourir à Scoudouc in 2017, as well as Goose Lane’s full English translation by Jo-Anne Elder, To Live and Die in Scoudouc (2018). Indeed, many former Éditions d’Acadie authors migrated to Éditions Perce-Neige, Éditions La Grande Marée, and Éditions de la Francophonie, to name a few (Lonergan 202). The publishers who continue to release Acadian content owe their successes to Éditions d’Acadie as the first press to publish poets who insisted on Acadie as a uniquely individual voice – a living voice – in New Brunswick and the Maritimes.

Jamie Evan Kitts, Fall 2019
St. Thomas University

Bibliography of Primary Sources (Selected)

Arsenault, Guy. Acadie rock. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1973.

Boudreau, Marielle, and Melvin Gallant. La cuisine traditionnelle en Acadie. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1975.

Bourgeois, Georges, et al. Concerto pour huit voix. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1989.

Brun, Régis. Pionnier de la nouvelle Acadie: Joseph Gueguen, 1741–1825. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1984.

Chiasson, Herménégilde. Mourir à Scoudouc. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1974.

Cogswell, Fred, and Jo-Anne Elder, eds. Rêves inachevés: Poésie acadienne contemporaine. Introduction by Raoul Boudreau. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1990.

Daigle, France. Film d’amour et de dépendance: Chef-d’oeuvre obscur. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1984.

Després, Ronald. Paysages en contrebande… à la frontière du songe. Afterword by Laurent Lavoie. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1974.

Forest, Léonard. Saisons antérieurs. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1973.

Gair, Reavley, et al., eds. Langues et littératures au Nouveau-Brunswick. Trans. Elizabeth Jones. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1986.

Gallant, Melvin. Ti-Jean: Contes acadiens. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1973.

Leblanc, Gérald. L’extrême frontière: Poèmes 1972–1988. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1988.

LeBlanc, Raymond Guy. Cri de terre. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1972.

Maillet, Marguerite, Gérard LeBlanc, and Bernard Emont, eds. Anthologie de textes littéraires acadiens. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1979.

Paratte, Henri-Dominique. Dis-moi la nuit. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1982.

St-Pierre, Christiane. Absente pour la journée: Roman. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1989.

Bibliography of Secondary Sources

Belliveau, Joel. “Moncton’s Student Protest Wave of 1968: Local Issues, Global Currents and the Birth of Acadian Neo-Nationalism.” Fédéralisme Régionalisme 13 (2013). 28 Nov. 2019.

Bolduc, Yves. “Acadian Poetry.” A Literary and Linguistic History of New Brunswick. Ed. Reavley Gair, et al. Trans. Elizabeth Jones. Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions, 1985. 83-106.

Boudreau, Raoul. “Poetry as Action.” Unfinished Dreams: Contemporary Poetry of Acadie. Ed. Fred Cogswell and Jo-Anne Elder. Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions, 1990. xvii-xxvii.

---. “Stratégies de reterritorialization de la langue dans La vie prodigieuse de Rose Després.” Littératures mineurs en langue majeure. Ed. Jean-Pierre Bertrand and Lise Gauvin. Bruxelles: Presses Interuniversitaires Européennes-Peter Lang, 2003. 81-88.

---. “Une poésie qui est un acte.” Rêves inachevés: Poésie acadienne contemporaine. Ed. Fred Cogswell and Jo-Anne Elder. Moncton: Les Éditions d’Acadie, 1990. 7-20.

Brault, Michel, and Pierre Perrault. Acadia Acadia?!? National Film Board of Canada, 1971. 9 Oct. 2019

Brun, Régis. Introduction. Éditions d’Acadie fonds, 385. i-iii. U de Moncton, 2009.

Chiasson, Herménégilde. “Return to Scoudouc.” To Live and Die in Scoudouc. Trans. Jo-Anne Elder. Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions, 2018. 79-93.

Clarke, George Elliott. “Towards a Conservative Modernity: Cultural Nationalism in Contemporary Acadian and Africadian Poetry.” Cultural Identities in Canadian Literature. Ed. Bénédicte Mauguière. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1998. 49-64.

Cogswell, Fred. “Modern Acadian Poetry.” Canadian Literature 68/69 (Spring/Summer 1976): 62-75.

Elder, Jo-Anne. “On the Road Again, Astheure.” Rev. of Dead End by Monica Bolduc, Everglades by Daniel H. Dugas and Valerie LeBlanc, and Acadie Road by Gabriel Robichaud. Parallel Universe: The Poetries of New Brunswick. Ed. Shane Neilson and Sue Sinclair. Victoria: Frog Hollow Press, 2018. 172-180.

Ferron, Andrée Mélissa. “Entre Moncton et Caraquet: le transit et le transitif chez Jonathan Roy.” Littérature acadienne du 21e siècle. Ed. Cécilia W. Francis and Robert Viau. Moncton: Les Éditions Perce-Neige, 2016. 147-176.

Gair, Reavley, et al., eds. A Literary and Linguistic History of New Brunswick. Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions, 1985.

Landry, W.P. “The Voice of the Acadian Soil.” Trans. Fred Cogswell. Canadian Literature 68/69 (Spring/Summer 1976): 66-67.

Leblanc, Raymond. “Land-Cry.” Trans. Fred Cogswell. Canadian Literature 68/69 (Spring/Summer 1976): 71.

Lonergan, David. Paroles d’Acadie: Anthologie de la littérature acadienne (1958–2009). Sudbury: Éditions Prise de parole, 2010.

---. Regard sur la littérature acadienne (1972–2012). Sudbury: Éditions Prise de parole, 2018.

Masson, Alain. Lectures acadiennes. Moncton: Les Éditions Perce-Neige, 1994.

Merkle, Denise. “February 1968: Acadian Activism and the Discontents of Translation.” Translation Effects: The Shaping of Modern Canadian Culture. Ed. Kathy Mezei, Sherry Simon, and Luise von Flotow. Montreal: McGill-Queens UP, 2014. 91-104.

Runte, Hans R. Writing Acadia: The Emergence of Acadian Literature 1970–1990. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, 1997.

Wright, Donald, and Thomas Cheney. “Pierre Trudeau, Michael Ignatieff, and the Flame of 1968.” Acadiensis 38.2 (Summer/Autumn 2009): 159-167.