Moments from a life journey- Voyaz san valiz, the poems of Peter Pierre-Louis



Peter Pierre-Louis         The cover of the newly released Voyaz san valiz

This idea of life as a journey – no wonder the French speak of parcours and itinéraire in a biographical sense - is at the heart of Peter Pierre-Louis’ anthology of poems, Voyaz san valiz, launched recently during the Arts Festival.

Clearly, voyaz here is more to do with journey (singular) than travels (plural):

En vyeyar i debout lo bout lasose son lavi

i regard devan e regard deryer

This is someone who is not just passively reminiscing but actively taking stock of his life, rewinding and re-playing  trials, tribulations and triumphs, sometimes to see if there is a pattern or a sense of purpose (Ki mon pe fer la?), at other moments to evaluate his present bearings, and who he is today.

 There is constant questioning around the whence of origin and the whither of destination (Zot dir mwan i annan en landrwa kot personn pa tousel), though it is a matter of opinion whether a decisive and conclusive resolution is in view: Dan peizaz mon rev, lepase, prezan ek lavenir i zis en sel.

We say that photographs can capture a moment, a view, an emotion.

 So can poetry.  Peter Pierre-Louis may have been without a physical suitcase on his journey, but this has not stopped him from picking up and accumulating all manner of memories, images and insights along the way:

 Flanbwayan/ i tenn  trotwar/ avek petal rouz… me lekel sa ki’n traverse/ zis dan kwen mon lizye?… bann pti tourtrel koko/ anler lo lafnet
 lakwizin… Indeed, on page 42 of this 54-page volume he finally lets slip out that he does carry a virtual suitcase: I’n ler pour debley sa valiz/ e touy tou sa bann memwar anmer…

But perhaps this is the key to understanding what Voyaz san valiz is all about - there comes a point somewhere along this life journey when we need to stop accumulating things, and start shedding some: …tou pti bout son lavi porslenn/ ki’n fann fannen partou lo estik… For Pierre-Louis, though, the quest for closure may not be quite over:

…I’n arive.

sa demon ki fouraye
dan mon lonbraz
e mars lo ledwa lipye
anba mon talon.

It was another poet, American Ralph Waldo Emerson, who first said “Life is a journey, not a destination”. Peter Pierre-Louis’ first collection of poems reminds us of this metaphor and gets us to reflect over our own grand voyage de la vie.

By Pat Matyot