Polyglossia

Rose-Marie François speaks Belgium's three official languages: French, Dutch and German. But not only. She has never been monolingual. Her French-Picard diglossia was reinforced at an early stage by her mother's ban of 'dialect'. Her curiosity for foreign languages sharpened towards the end of primary school following a couple a Flemish lessons. In high school, she learned Latin and Dutch, English, Greek and German, as well as some self-taught elements of Spanish and Italian. Germanist 'of the old order' (courses and exams are held in four languages), at the University of Liege (Belgium), where she first worked as a research assistant.

In 1959-60, she became friends with hungarian students in exile and used the opportunity to show some interest in their language while she helped them learning French. In the mid-sixties, she took 2 years of Swedish Language and Literature classes at the University of Liege. And in the early eighties, completed a course in Russian at the Ville de Liege Evening Classes.

She was trained in various 'Langues Vivantes' methodologies, including the Saint-Cloud and Zagreb methods for teaching French as a second language, which she widely used in Sweden with students from 6 to 70 years of age.

From 1975 to 1995 she lived daily in 3 languages: teaching Dutch in a French-speaking environment, and speaking German at home with her husband originally from the German Ruhr and her children. Last but not least, in her 60th year she takes up the challenge of learning a Baltic language: Latvian

Equality between men and women

From 1971 she was an active member of the 'groupe des femmes de Liege', a group reflecting on the position of women and which fights for free contraception and the conditional depenalisation of abortion. She took part in feministic meetings in Belgium, France and Holland. And was received by Simone de Beauvoir, with Jeanne Vercheval and Marie Denis in preparation of the great 'Passage 44 meeting' in Brussels on November the 11th 1972. She contributed to the 'Petit Livre Rouge des Femmes'; criticising gender roles in school books, especially in foreign language test books. Rose-Marie François is a memeber of FERULg (Femmes Etudes Recherche Université de Liège)

Latvia

“Are you of Latvian descent?” “You translate Latvian poets... Have you learned their language?” “You go to Latvia regularly, why this passion for the country?”

The answer is in my books: Répéter sa mort, Passé la Haine et d’autres fleuves, De source lointaine, Prince de Courlande, De sel et de feu…

Since 1984, vaguely, and since 1987, in a more precise but still rather opaque fashion, I was fathering texts about “a country vanished from the maps, which was to reappear”, a country named Courland of which I knew nothing. “Courland. Which mouth – under my tongue melt some outdated phrases – which memory has laid this word into mine as the more accurate name of nostalgia?” Was it just a word for a legendary country, another Arcadia or Atlantis? When the historical atlas revealed this land on the shores of the Baltic Sea, I had already written a lot about her. “Usually writers visit a place and then write about it. But you start by describing places and then you go and find out if your feather was right.” (Christine Pagnoulle)

At the end of 1989, the manuscript of Répéter sa mort is awarded the Plisnier Prize. The Berlin Wall 'falls' and the first republics to separate themselves from the Soviet Bloc are the Baltic Countries. Courland is back on the map! The book will first be published on “Mot à Mot”, on-line edition of the University of Liège, then by Le Cormier Publishings (Brussels) in December 1997. At the Biennale de Poesie of Liège, in 1998, I meet the “Prince of Courland”. The adventure begins. I start learning Latvian. In 1999, I am invited to the “Poetry days” in Riga and Répéter sa mort is awarded the Louis Guillaume Prize (Paris). I decide to compose an anthology of Latvian Poetry of the 20st Century and to translate the poems myself. I am teaching myself Latvian. The novel Passé la Haine et d’autres fleuves is published by Le Fram Publishings (Liège) in 2001.

In 2002, the Maison de la Poésie d'Amay publishes the bilingual Latvian Poetry Anthology: click on «Publications», “Livres de poésie” and “Romans, récits, nouvelles, petites proses” to check my own books translated into Latvian; click on «Publications» «Traductions» and view the books of Latvian authors I translated into French.


Rose-Marie François © 2017