French, Students

Department of French launches De Voix Vives, an online journal of student poetry and prose in French

August 18, 2016

As many undergraduate students discover during their university careers, finding your writing voice—whether in your native or second language—is not an easy task. Like anything one wants to improve, developing good writing skills and finding one’s voice takes practise: journal-writing, creative writing, writing academic papers, and even emails. All these forms of writing usually involve outlines, drafts, re-writing and re-organizing. SFU’s Department of French has recently launched another venue where students can develop their writing voices in French: De Voix Vives, an online journal of student poetry and prose in French whose first issue was published in June 2016.

Dr. Gaëlle Planchenault is the main organizer and editor of the project. She says the idea to launch a journal of creative writing in French came from a “desire to provide a space for students to express their voices in French.” The initiative was based upon a couple of realizations, she says. First, the realization that students in French—much like ESL students elsewhere in the university—face a kind of “double obstacle”: learning to write academically and how to do it in a second language. “Ideally, students should be encouraged to explore the language, discover that writing in a second language can be liberating. [Even if it is] very frustrating at times, it is also an empowering exercise.” Second, Planchenault notes, several French students are already using their French writing skills in creative ways and launching a journal is a great opportunity to showcase their talent. “Some students use their French writing skills for a living (Chris Clarke is a professional French-to-English translator), some as a hobby (Lora McElhinney is a poet, Chantal Fournier writes children books with her husband).” 

Contributors to the first issue of De Voix Vives include: (Top row, L-R) Chris Clarke, Chantal Fournier, and Lora McElhinney. (Bottom row, L-R) Joseph Marcel Virassamy, Samuel Park, and Brian Portner.

Planchenault says several other members of the Department have contributed time and input into the journal’s development including Julia Galmiche, a masters student in French who has worked in publishing as an editorial assistant, proof-reader, and communications/ project manager, and Dr. Catherine Black, a professor in advanced composition in French. Galmiche not only brought original input into the design of the journal, but also edited the final drafts of the first issue and oversaw the journal’s current digital flip-book format.

Planchenault, who writes academic and creative texts, says both genres of writing require precision, hard work, revision, and creativity. She emphasises that the editorial team of the journal is committed to publishing “a journal of quality, which will showcase texts that could also be published in peer-reviewed journals” and adds that this objective is important because it gives everyone in the SFU community a “new perspective on what students can achieve in French: texts which are not only well-written but also personal.”

The next issue of De Voix Vives is scheduled to be published in Spring 2017 and while the Department of French will release more detailed information on their Twitter and Facebook pages, the deadline for submitting to the next issue is November 1, 2016. Students may submit their work by email.

Excerpts from the first issue of De Voix Vives (June 2016):

Je m’appelle Agnus et ce soir je serai mort...

”Agnus Le Roi,” Samuel Park


Les épaules carrées et le regard vide, Aaron ferme la porte de son appartement derrière lui. Marchant la tête baissée, il s’en est fallu 
de peu qu’il n’entre en collision avec la concierge du bâtiment.

"L'étau se desserre," Brian Portner


Chaque fois que ses pieds touchent le sol, un éclair de douleur part de ses orteils jusqu’à son cerveau. Sa cheville la fait horriblement souffrir, mais malgré ça, elle ne s’arrête pas, elle court. Elle doit courir.

"Où," Juhi Mahabirssingh


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