HUGUETTE BERTRAND is an international French-Canadian poet and editor born and living in Canada. She has been writing and editing French poetry for 39 years and has published 39 poetry books. Since 2014 her poems were also published in many printed and online international journals and anthologies and translated in multi languages such as Arabic, Romanian, Korean, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Bengali, Turkish and Macedonian. Besides her publications, she has participated to poetry readings, book shows, art exhibitions of her poetry paired with artworks in Canada, France and Norway, gave poetry workshops in Canada and France. She is the Canadian representative of the international movement IMMAGINE & POESIA (Italy) and co-editor of digital yearly anthologies for this said movement since 2014.
IRMA KURTI: When did you write your first poetry and when did you understand that Poetry would become an integral part of your life?
HUGUETTE BERTRAND: I started writing a few poems in 1983 thinking it was poetry, not knowing it would become the integral part of my life. I have been writing poetry non-stop since then. Just after my first poetry book has been published in 1985, I was asked to be the secretary of the Writers Regional Association where I live. Three years after I was asked to be its president. I always hesitated to accept such responsibilities but accepting these roles lead me to learn about what was going on in the literary domain. All along I have been working for others, it helps me going further in my path. That lasted for 12 years involving all sorts of activities like poetry readings, book shows, poetry workshops, exhibitions of poetry with artworks, editing poetry books, managing launching of books of the authors I represent and so on. In Autumn 1995, I got access to Internet which changed the course of my path and my way of thinking and editing. In 1996 I started learning on the job the creation of my website having always a poetry project in progress on a web page. Afterwards, each project was edited as a printed book for legal deposit at our National Library. Up to now all of my poetry books are in e-books format and can be downloaded for free from the e-collection of Library & Archives Canada. Since 2010, I share my poems only on my Facebook just like I did on my website which is still online. As for my role as editor, that’s another important path of my story.
IRMA KURTI: You have published 39 poetry books that represent your long literary path. Do you have any preferences? What book do you feel connected to the most?
HUGUETTE BERTRAND: I have no preference. I consider each one of them as having been a work in progress. Each one was my way of thinking about the World with its beauties and madness all around as it still is today.
IRMA KURTI: Have you ever experienced writer’s block? What do you think about it?
HUGUETTE BERTRAND: Yes, sometimes I have experienced it, feeling the well was empty, but I never despaired and the light came back again for another round of poems. I am rather optimistic in that case.
IRMA KURTI: You are the Canadian representative of the international movement IMMAGINE & POESIA (Italy) and co-editor of digital yearly anthologies for this movement since 2014. May you tell us something more about it?
HUGUETTE BERTRAND: In 2014, I noticed on my Facebook that somebody invited me to join the Immagine & Poesia’s group. I went to see what it was and I saw that somebody had already joined me to the group. Curious, I went on Immagine & Poesia’s website and by visiting it, I saw that all the representatives of many countries were English speaking. As it was an international movement, I was thinking that French speaking poets, as I am, could also be part of that movement. After a short while, I received an e-mail from the founder of the movement asking me to be the Canadian representative of the movement. Knowing how to edit e-books in pdf format, I offered her the creation of an international anthology including French speaking poets in it. She accepted and she wrote the submission rules in English, which I translated for French speaking poets and artists. From 2014, the founder and I became co-editors and have been editing yearly the Immagine & Poesia’s anthologies. The outcome of my suggestion and becoming the co-editor lead me to translate some of my poems in English which I sent and appeared in different international journals and anthologies and also being translated in multi-language. This opened another path that kept me going thanks to the Italian poet Lidia Chiarelli, my co-editor.
IRMA KURTI: These anthologies contain the works of the poets all over the world. Is there anything that the poets have in common? Any impression that you want to share with us?
HUGUETTE BERTRAND: I think we have in common free speech, each one expressing in its own way of being and thinking which should be respected in his-her own right.
IRMA KURTI: Do you think that poetry remains a powerful tool to promote peace in these difficult situations we’re living?
HUGUETTE BERTRAND: I think that poetry has never been a so powerful tool for peace. Unfortunately, poetry readers are not politicians, militaries and money makers. Most poetry readers are the poets themselves and a few surrounding them. Even so, poetry can reveal to us that there is always hope for Peace and that is where I stand.
IRMA KURTI is an Albanian poetess, writer, lyricist, journalist, and translator. She is a naturalized Italian. She has been writing since she was a child. In 1980, she was honored with the first national prize on the 35th anniversary of the Pionieri magazine for her poem “To my homeland”. In 1989, she won the second prize in the National Competition organized by Radio Tirana on the 45th anniversary of the Liberation of Albania. Kurti has won numerous literary prizes and awards in Italy and Italian Switzerland. She was awarded the “Universum Donna” International Prize IX Edition 2013 for Literature and the lifetime nomination of “Ambassador of Peace” by the University of Peace of Italian Switzerland. In 2020, she received the title of Honorary President of WikiPoesia, the Encyclopedia of Poetry. In 2021, she was awarded the title “Liria” (Freedom) by the Arbëreshë Community in Italy. Irma Kurti has published 26 books in Albanian, 18 in Italian, 9 in English and two in French. She has written about 150 lyrics for adults and children. She is also the translator of 11 books of different authors and of all her books in Italian and English. Her books have been published in the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Romania, Kosovo, Philippines, Cameroon and India. She lives in Bergamo, Italy.