Poet, students to participate in bilingual reading at UMF on March 3

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Serge Patrice Thibodeau
Serge Patrice Thibodeau

FARMINGTON – An exploration of Acadian culture by two college classes will bring one of Canada’s most respected poets to the University of Maine at Farmington on March 3 as part of the college’s ‘Encounters’ series.

On March 3, Serge Patrice Thibodeau will be participating in a reading at The Landing in the Olson Student Center on the UMF campus at 7 p.m. Thibodeau, a renowned poet and winner of the Governor General’s Prize, not once, but twice, has written a collection of narratives based on his travels. Two French classes at UMF have been translating Thibodeau’s work into English for the first time, and students in the advanced FRE377 class will be participating in the bilingual reading.

Professor Clint Bruce’s FRE377 course, L’Acadie, Present and Past, focuses on Acadian history, linguists and culture. Thibodeau’s work, Bruce said, represented a common thread for the course; the poet had written some of the course material in addition to the travel narratives the students were translating.

“The connection of the class is to think about what it is to be a scattered community,” Bruce said.

Acadians are generally described as the descendants of French-speaking settlers who originally settled in the colony of Acadie, comprised of modern-day Canada’s easternmost maritime provinces, as well as portions of Quebec and Maine. In the mid-18th century, more than 10,000 colonists were deported during the French and Indian War, leading to the creation of communities with Acadian heritage across the continent and world.

Thibodeau is currently the editorial director of Éditions Perce-Neige, considered to be the premier publisher of contemporary Acadian literature, and was a “natural person” to go to for the course, Bruce said, as a writer, historian and traveler.

“I really like it when my students can do some public display of their work,” Bruce said. The event would also provide members of the public with a chance to learn about Acadian history and culture.

Future guests include Canadian singer-songwriter Suzanne Léger, who will perform at Emery Community Arts Center on March 26 at 7:30 p.m.

The series, entitled “The Borders of Identity: The Acadian Experience in the 21st Century,” coincides with the upcoming Congrès Mondial Acadien/World Acadian Congress, a massive gathering of Acadians to be held in the transborder Madawaska region (Maine/New Brunswick/Québec) in August 2014. In addition to the public events with Thibodeau and Léger, other guests will visit FRE377 to work with UMF students.

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