The author of On the Road was not exactly the same when he wrote in English, the language of his country, as when he wrote in French, the language of his mother Gabrielle-Ange. “This language in which Kerouac dreamed, this language in which he cried, it was the same as me, underlines Maxime Catellier. I too was dreaming and crying in this language, even though I was writing in another. »

Speak a certain French on a daily basis, but use another, more civilized one, between the pages of his books: any Quebec writer is naturally willing to understand the linguistic schizophrenia that tore the good Jack apart. It is this gap that Maxime Catellier tries to cross in Jean dit, written in a French of a tenderly rough orality in January 2022, when the centenary of the American novelist and poet was underlined.

Illuminations, sentences, thoughts, bold jokes and images from childhood: these “111 poems for Ti Jean Kerouac” borrow from the most timorous of the representatives of the Beat Generation his smiling gravity, in brief texts reverent of the one who inspired them , although transcending the simple register of an exercise in style.

But because poets never reveal themselves so much as when they pay homage to those they admire, Maxime Catellier inevitably ends up telling us a lot about his conception of writing and life – there really a difference between the two?

“If memories/were flies,” he observes in what may now serve as his poetic art, “I’d put sticky traps/all over the ceiling/and watch them/get taken prisoner/taking sips/in the cloud of my cup”.