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Athabasca University

Gaston Miron

Gaston Miron was not only a highly-recognized French-Canadian poet, but also an influential spokesman for Quebec separation and independence, and he became known as Quebec’s “national poet”. His work was known in Europe, and he was named Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres de la République française in 1993. He received the Prix de la Revue études françaises, the Prix France-Canada, the Prix Belgique-Canada and the Prix Guillaume-Apollinaire for his best-known work, L’Homme rapaillé (1970).

Gaston Miron was born the first of five children on 28th January, 1928, in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec. He was to become an outspoken advocate of the Quebec nationalist movement, which in turn became a major influence on his work as a writer. In 1947, Miron moved to Montreal where he eventually co-founded a publishing company, éditions de l’Hexagone, with Olivier Marchand and others. He took the position of editor in chief, and made the decision to publish only poetry from Quebec. éditions de l’Hexagone became known for the nationalist poetry produced during Miron’s tenure as editor. It hosted many Québécois poets such as Jean-Guy Pilon, Paul-Marie Lapointe, Alain Grandbois and Fernand Ouellette. Miron’s own first poem, entitled Deux Sangs, was also published by his company, but most of his other work appeared in various magazines and periodicals. Miron constantly re-visited and re-worked his poems, and they were only latterly assembled and published as volumes of poetry.

Miron was also a well-known public figure in artistic and political circles in Montreal, giving speeches and writing texts on the status of the French language in Quebec. He participated in several “nuits de la poésie”, hosted intellectual discussions and conferences and was part of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution. He belonged to the Social Democratic party in the 1950’s, but became politically involved in the movement for Quebec sovereignty. He was also arrested and imprisoned during the events of the October Crisis, which only served to affirm his commitment to the cause of Quebec.

Miron’s poetry is reflective of Quebec’s culture and language. His work resonates with his passion for the French language of Quebec. His volume of poetry, L’Homme rapaillé, reveals his commitment to his heritage and clearly expresses the alienation of the French-speaking Québécois. His views are also forcefully articulated in such essays as “L’Aliénation délirante”, “Notes sur le non-poème et le poème” and “Un long chemin”. The poems of Courtepointes (1975) show a similar passion for the political struggle of Quebec. Much of Miron’s work draws on Quebec’s oral traditions, as much as on formal and lyrical vocabulary.

Miron, who died in 1996, was the first Quebec writer to be given a state funeral. (J. McKay)

Updated February 12 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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