A Flea the Size of Paris: The Fatras

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Faculty/Staff
Date created: 
2017-10-03
Keywords: 
Medieval poetry
French poetry
fatras
couplet
Donato Mancini
Ted Byrne
Danielle LaFrance
Jacqueline Turner
poetry
SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement
VOCE
higher education
knowledge democracy
Abstract: 

The fatras is a form of medieval French verse dedicated to the impossible. A form of unsense verse that turns the animate world inside-out and takes apart the structures that wish to rule it. Its crass humour, often obscene, is directed at church and state, at bogus morality and the madness of war. All of the wildness of the fatras happens within a paradoxically rule-bound form, as if to mock the fraudulent elegance of the court and its love poetry. A fatras begins with a couplet, often lifted from a serious poem in high style. The first line of the couplet is then restated and “followed” by a 9-line sequence of non-sequiturs, dream-like shifts of scale and person, scatological or blasphemous jokes and slapstick routines, concluded by the repetition of the couplet’s second line. The ideational content is generated through puns, homonyms and rhyme. Only a few dozen fatras have survived, mostly written by the court poet Watriquet de Couvin, and performed together with a certain Raimondin. The nature of their collaboration is unknown — the poems may have been composed in advance or improvised in performance. It is not known whether or not they were accompanied by music. They have never before been translated into English.

In this event, Donato Mancini and Ted Byrne presented and read their translations of the fatras. Danielle LaFrance and Jacqueline Turner responded to the original fatras, after which all of the poets read some of their own poetry, either new fatras, or poetry that responds to the fatras.

Description: 

Audio recording of event with Donato Mancini and Ted Byrne presenting and reading their translations of the fatras. Danielle LaFrance and Jacqueline Turner responded to the original fatras, after which all of the poets read some of their own poetry, either new fatras, or poetry that responds to the fatras.

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Audio
Rights: 
Rights remain with the authors.
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