Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Franco-American Literary Event - May 22 - Lewiston Public Library

The recently published Franco-American anthology Canuck and Other Stories will be the focus of a free public program scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today, May 22, in Callahan Hall of the Lewiston Public Library.

The book's editor Rhea Côté Robbins and translators Sylvie Charron, Jeannine Bacon Roy and Madeleine Roy will discuss and present selected readings from the three works included in the book: Canuck, by Camille Lessard Bissonnette (1883-1970); La Jeune Franco-Américaine (The Young Franco-American) by Alberte Gastonguay (1906-1978); and Françaises d'Amérique (Frenchwomen of North America) by Corinne Rocheleau Rouleau (1881-1963).

Herself a Maine author, Robbins came across these texts a few years ago while doing research in preparation for teaching a course entitled Franco-American Women's Experiences. In reading them, she realized that they provided uniquely inspiring images of and perspectives on the lives of North American French women of past eras and recognized them as seminal works of fiction forming a rare body of literature of the Franco-Americans who immigrated/emigrated to the United States. These writings were all penned in French, however, and Robbins wanted them to be equally accessible to those who cannot read French, as is the case with many of the younger generation Franco-Americans. “As Franco-Americans, we have a rich and long literary tradition,” says Robbins, pointing to these particular writings as a vital part of that tradition.

So Robbins secured translators with a knowledge of and sensitivity to the nuances of North American French and then compiled the results into this anthology, which made its way into bookstores and libraries earlier this year.

The first of the book's offerings, Canuck, reflects the immigration experience from a young woman’s point of view. La Jeune Franco-Américaine, which is set in Lewiston and was first published by the Lewiston French language newspaper press, Le Messager, in 1933, is described by Robbins as a romance demonstrating “how to fall in love Franco-American style.” The last of the three texts in the anthology, “Françaises d’Amérique,” is a one-act play which features the little-known heroines who helped settle Quebec, or – as it was called at the time – New France. As its author states in the preface: “We have often discussed the major feats and accomplishments of the [male] French colonists, but we have left their 'better halves' in semi-darkness. I believe that it is time to introduce these French women pioneers.”

Copies of the anthology will be available for purchase at Tuesday's event. The Lewiston Public Library is located at 200 Lisbon Street/Rte.196 at the corner of Pine Street in downtown Lewiston. More information is available by calling the library at 784-0135, ext. 210.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Michele Choiniere, winner of the Governor's Heritage Award

Michele Choiniere, a Franco-American singer and songwriter, has won this year's Governor's Heritage Award, an annual honor presented by the Vermont Folklife Center and Vermont Life Magazine.

Michele won for her work as an "outstanding traditional artist in her role as a master musician." Jane Beck, Executive Director of the Folklife Center said that Michele's application stood out for her artistry as a singer, her musical arrangements, and her creative song writing, making her an ideal choice."

The Vermont Folklife Center is an organization that preserves the folk arts and cultural traditions of Vermont. Each year, an artist and an educator receive the honor, which is presented by the Governor in a ceremony at the Statehouse.

Michele is a Franco-American, who grew up in Saint Albans, Vermont. Her ancestry is Quebecois and she spoke french as her first language. Her household and community were steeped in traditional music, and she learned Quebec and Franco-Vermont folk tunes from her family and friends. While many in the Franco-American community are losing touch with the culture, Michele is an exception to this trend, as she actively carries on the traditions, while also creating new music.

Michele has appeared in concert with well known world/traditional music performers such as Le Vent du Nord, Matapat and Barachois, among others and currently performs in concert with ensembles from both Montreal and Vermont. Her performances feature a blend of traditional music, along with original compositions, together with an occasional standard, such as songs by Edith Piaf.

Among other accolades, Michele and her Montreal group of Sabin Jacques and Rachel Aucoin, performed at last year's American Folk Festival in Bangor, Maine that was attended by over 163,000 people. This year, she will appear at the Great Lakes Folk Festival in Michigan, as well as other events in the northeastern U.S. and Canada.
For more information on Michele, including a video clip of her recent performance at the Vermont Legislature, you can visit her website at www.michelechoiniere.com.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Lewiston Book Launch!

"Canuck and Other Stories" -- Readings and Discussion
Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at 03:00 PM Callahan Hall
Lewiston Public Library

Selected readings from and discussion about the newly published Franco-American anthology Canuck and Other Stories, featuring its editor Rhea Côté Robbins and translators Sylvie Charron, Jeannine Bacon Roy, and Madeleine Roy. Free admission.

For more information link here.