Past Features

April 10, 2006 (Vol. 3, No. 6)

Prof. Spear Celebrates Francophone Festival in France

Julienne Salvat, Professor Thomas Spear, Tahar Bekri, Monique Agenor and Daniel Maximin at the Societe des Gens de Lettres' two-day forum on March 28.
Julienne Salvat, Professor Thomas Spear, Tahar Bekri, Monique Agénor and Daniel Maximin at the Société des Gens de Lettres' two-day forum on March 28.

Professor Thomas Spear (Languages and Literatures) was in France twice last month. The first time, he participated in the annual Paris book fair (Salon du Livre) and for his second visit he took part in a two-day forum about the writer in the French-speaking world that covered topics like language, marketing, publishing and rights.

A multinational who's who of writers was present at the book fair, whose theme this year was "Francofffonies!" The fair launched the eight-month "Francophone Festival in France," which is promoting the contemporary cultures of the French-speaking world. "Francofffonies!" culminates in October 2006 with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of African poet Léopold Sédar Senghor.

At the book fair, Professor Spear had the opportunity to interview and record authors from Madagascar, Martinique, Mayotte, Mauritius and New Caledonia for his web site, île en île. "This year's book fair was unique in that it featured authors from all of the French-speaking countries, rather than highlighting a single country's literature," explains Professor Spear, who also met with other authors, editors and collaborators on his site.

As editor of "île en île" and critic of the French version of "Francophonie," Professor Spear was among the writers and editors invited to speak on a special 75-minute program, "Frictions francophones." Hosted by Christian Tortel, the show was broadcast on the France Ô channel on March 22.

The week following the festival, Professor Spear returned to France for the Société des Gens de Lettres' two-day forum. He was invited to speak on a roundtable of editors, moderated by poet Tahar Bekri. Other guests included Nathalie Carré of Notre Librairie, Gabriel Rebourcet of Riveneuve Continents and Thierry Guichard from Le Matricule des anges.

The forum coincided with France's national strike on March 28, when some three million demonstrators gathered to protest the government's proposed new youth employment law.

"I was put up at a hotel near the Hôtel de Massa, so for Tuesday's national strike, I was able to walk over and take in the feel of the streets, filled with lingering demonstrators and police," says Professor Spear.