How to adress the acuteness of migrants issues in poetry? Even though a literary entreprise that has many agents, according to Sabine Venaruzzo, she feels the need to work with words of migrants with a different approach than many others. She will perform a symbolic march – or a somatic performance – starting today, January 19th. The open-outcome project will be going on for over 2 years and aims to cross European borders in many different fashions.
What’s your connection to CROWD?
Sabine Venaruzzo: I met a French poet (Samantha Barendson). As we were talking about our different projects I told her about my European poetic project „On the Roads“. Since this project has a lot in common with the OMNIBUS tour of CROW, she recommended me to meet Tom Bresemann from CROWD in Berlin, which I did. I met him last summer. As we started talking and the OMNIBUS bus tour came up I immediately felt a connection with my personal work. It was a great rencontre!
We since then kept contact because we share the same idea. Connecting authors from different countries without any borders, having them meet, being both event organisers and exchanging ideas about cultural politics as well, he have a lot in common. And foremost we want to use technology to be able to cross the worlds.
Please tell me more about your own project „On the Roads“.
Sabine Venaruzzo: Starting from January 19th I take my car and my poems and I am going during a 2-years-time-span different ways in Europe. The starting point is always Nice: Nice-Italy, Nice-Spain, Nice-Germany.
The first stage is commencing in a few days already and I am really excited about it! But let me get back to the very beginning point of this project for a moment. I really need some kind of action or concreteness, input or – how do you say in English?! – I really needed to actually leave Nice and go to other countries and to cross also the French border. I admit, I could have stayed within France, also because I write in French most of the time, but Europe is part of my identity. I am speaking different languages as a Erasmus student, I worked in Britain and in Germany. My father was born in Italy, so I am really completely involved in Europe and this is why I need to cross these borders again. And thus, facing what is happening in the world today. Some years ago we were so happy to have no borders anymore. Now it’s back that we have some kind of fear of each other, there are walls between countries reestablished. So as a poet I have no other choice than to incorporate to cross these border just to highlight what’s happening now.
There are borders within Europe and there are borders around Europe being established. I would like to know more about your work with migrants.
Sabine Venaruzzo: My first action for „On the Roads“ is a march across borders giving the humanitarian aspect the first priority over anything else. I will walk to Vallée de la Roya, some call it Italy’s little Calais, taking exactly that road that migrants take when they want to cross the French border from Italy. During this walk I will recite my poetry. For a few days in July last year I have already been with migrants a lot and collected the words from the them, and from what they tell me, what they suffered and had to cope with, what they saw and heard. I wrote some poetry from that. By the very reciting, by having these words resounding through my body I will cross the French border as a symbolic gesture. I have a camera man with me to record what I am doing.
What is interesting for is meeting the people between Italy and France. The very recent news are full of the word „migrant“. So I feel that there is an immediate need to deal with this issue which is a part of daily life.
The migrants have to live in horrible conditions. There are no words for it, it’s better put into poetry.
Do you think it is about choosing the right words or about talking with each other at all?
Sabine Venaruzzo: Usually words do not fit to describe what is happening. With their sense, with the meaning of the words, they help me to express what’s happening, and that has nothing to do with reality.
When you go there and you see what is happening – you know, I take up a role in that situation. Poetry though can help to take a distance to reality. Poetry can help to make some sense and to put in some contexts that will not dehumanize. When we consider what is happening in that village, Ventimiglia, there are plenty of news, documentaries and stuff about it, it is just horrible, not adressable. I believe I am the first poet to go there, and trying to use all the words to talk about what is happening, to have a different view on what is happening with a strong sense of humanity and solidarity.
The first poem in this series that I wrote was when I met a young guy from Sudan who had told me his story. When I read this to a friend, who is working in media in France, he told me that he was really emotionally engaged while reading my poem. That it helped him to be connected to something strong in him. He could sense that there is another way to talk about this. It is also important to have all the words that can be used to help raise awareness about what is happening.
Is there a gap in poetic coverage of migrant’s issues in France that you want to fill?
Sabine Venaruzzo: No. There are images and there are written texts about this. I actually also know poets writing about that but what I wanted to tell you is that my approach differs inasmuch I need to be there physically. What is the difference? I really need to perceive what there will be. I will engage with the people on the way and I will also write new poems on the way. I have images in my eyes and in my heart to compose poems with that. I will also continue to write about what I experience afterwards.
It is basically an open concept, a frame that I establish. This somatic experience is accompanied by the cellist Raphaël Zweifel, too. Actually I don’t really know what will happen.
The project spans 2 years. What will happen in that time? What is there else that you have in mind?
Sabine Venaruzzo: I haven’t exactly planned exactly the whole 2 years course. Only the first few marches are sketched out and/or planned as I will start to walk soon. This summer I will march from Nice to Barcelona. I will also go to Paris – without crossing a border between countries, but crossing an inner-French and psychological border between the capital Paris and the rest of France. Moreover, I plan to go to Berlin because Berlin is really a city I love very much.
So are you taking the routes the migrants travel in Europe?
Sabine Venaruzzo: No, not at all. (I know some of the migrants I met in Ventimiglia are now in Berlin but that has nothing to do with the routes of my project). On the contrary, my walk will not only feature strolling through rough territory. I will have a stop in Avignon at the Centre for European Poetry and in Toulouse, for example. I also want to have some free time to improvise. To have time to feel what is happening there, to meet people and to develop the topics I am occupied right now, beginning with the question about my identity: Who am I right in this instant? How stories change in the light of different partners in a conversation, and so on.
When I was a child at school we memorised poetry. When you hear a mother exclaiming her joy about her child reciting some poetry that he or she had learned at school, I always want to ask: Why don’t you do it anymore? Why don’t you learn any poetry anymore? This point is of interest to me.
You also have a camera man and a cellist with you? What are they doing?
Sabine Venaruzzo: Yes, for the first road I have Rémy Masseglia, a video artist, with me and have her talk about the issues I want to adress, helping in civilising some people about what is happening there. I also have a photograph artist, Eric Clément Demange, walking with me, and the cellist Raphaël Zweifel. That’s all. When I go there I will be talking with all the people, I will be in another world, under water.
How did you come to poetry as a singer?
Sabine Venaruzzo: I actually had started to write poetry before I was a singer. I always wrote, I always used words. When I was a child we had a lovely play, one would write invisible letters on the others back who then guessed what letter it was. I loved this children’s game!
Also, my grand mother, who was Italien, spoke very bad French. But it certainly influenced me in the way I am speaking now. She used wrong words to express what she wanted to say in French. My mother was a teacher for German language. I have experienced that I have a an other link to emotions, to words, to fittings, to so many things. So, yes, from the very beginning, I was very close to words. When I write poems I am mixing German, English and French as well.
One last question: What do you have in mind when you hear literary activist?
Sabine Venaruzzo: In „literary activist“ there is the word „act“! I am acting, I have a direct link to reality. This is how I write poetry. I work also with voice and subsequently with my body and how they interact. A literary activist is an artist that uses words as a direct action that is linked to reality.
The voice is part of my work. I am working with my voice and this is the link to my life. Voice, body, language, breath – to me, it’s all linked together. The way my body feels has an impact on the way I am speaking, the way I move makes my voice sound differently. Any abnormal or unusual sound of my voice can be the beginning of a new poem. My poetry is very influenced by music. I play and find the writing balance in how the poetry sounds in consonant and vowels and rhythm. And also the meaning of the word. These are the two layers that every good poem should have. How I feel at the time when I write has a direct impact on what I am writing.
Sabine Venaruzzo – (Poet / Actress / Singer) artistic training begins from an early age with the choral singing and the piano in academies and courses from Lyon to Paris. A small bend in Europe for a Master’s degree in Management Marketing option and ad business and Sabine Venaruzzo chooses to dedicate herself completely to her passion for the voice, spoken and sung, in 2003.
Awarded a diploma by a 1st Prize of Dramatic art to the National Academy of Region of Nice, and while continuing there her training in opera singing, she established the professional company Une petite voix m’a dit (a little voice told me). The creations of musical shows for large public are then linked – where get involved theater, singing, plastic arts, dance and poetry.
She also works with other troops for plays, street shows, children’s stories and productions of opera. Since 2007 she regularly performs in Theater festival of Avignon in France.An atypical route in which the writing is a constant line.
Prize-winner of competition of expression of Rotary Club of Lyon from 1991.
Since 2009, she participates actively in the workshops of the Action Theater in Berlin. Then she worked the improvised writing: a written shape certainly, but also physical and oral.
Her poetry grows rich of its stays in various countries (Latin America, North Africa and Europe) and of its practice of various languages.
She is profoundly marked by the oral character of the poem: the tone of the words and their musicality. What brings her quite naturally towards a collaboration with musicians and electro musics-acousticians.
Her course as an actriss and singer leads her quite naturally to transmit her poetry on stage: La Demoiselle Et caetera or the Young lady Et cetera was born. A subtle mixture of poetry, spoken word, monologue, recital-concert.
For the newt two years she is leading a european poetry project that cross borders called Sur les routes/on the roads.
Her poems are published in vairous french specialized media.
Her poem « J’ai le cœur Bagdad / My heart sounds Bagdad » is part of the poetical Anthology « Rouges » published bu Aigrettes French Editor.
She is since 2007 the artistic director of the french festival of poetry ” The days Poët Poët “.
Biography not edited by CROWD. Photo credit: Eric Clément Demange