Friday, March 6, 2009

ENTRE DEUX - Two Francophiles in Alaigne

ALAIGNE - Watercolour by Russi Dordi

This book is a record in poems and pictures of our first few years in the small village of Alaigne in the South of France, 30 km from Carcassonne.

Entre-Deux contains over 32 colour illustrations of poems written in English. When the book is turned upside down and back to front, the French translations can be read.

For the last 9 years my husband and I have divided our time between Kent and the south of France where we have renovated an old agricultural building and created a Mediterranean garden. Poems and paintings which emanated from this project have found expression in Entre-Deux – Two Francophiles in Alaigne, written in English and translated into French. The vine-clad hills; conversing with villagers; singing in the local choir; reading and writing poetry in French; country life in the Midi is extremely seductive.

Russi's interpretation of the view of 
LES PICS DES TROIS SEIGNEURS from our terrace in Alaigne.

Extract from Entre-Deux: page 19

Autumn in Alaigne

Changes seep inside you, breaking surface
now and then: greens fading to gold, fading
to copper, fading to rust; vine leaves
are having their tips hennaed. Only when you climb
the hills, the great tablecloth of the Aude
spread before you, are your eyes fully opened:
as if overnight, the alchemist
has emptied his crucible on the landscape,

the magnesium glow of vineyards
his most precious transmutation.
Sunflower land is now neatly combed, her tanned
scalp flecked with flint-sharp bones. Giraffe plane trees
stride the road to the village, roofs and church spire
fast turning rose. And the black silhouettes
of cypresses? Cathar warriors
guarding the peace in the place of the dead.

You want to embrace it, make it a part
of you, this fleeting slot between extremes
that greedily swallows summer warmth,
gulping down whole chunks of daylight
to regurgitate amazing vibrancies.
Under a fading Languedoc sky
you try to capture it on film, on paper,
but the result is always a lie.
Like an arrow in flight, this unstoppable, heart-
stopping mettle that is autumn, has you
scanning your internal landscape,
targeting truth.

Autumn in Alaigne

Entre-Deux - Two Francophiles in Alaigne, Barbara & Russi Dordi, Picture Poems/Hayward Design, ISBN 0-9536800-3-7


"When Barbara and Russi Dordi bought a house in France, their neighbours in the unspoiled village of Alaigne in the Midi were very welcoming. On discovering that the couple were artists, they insisted that they exhibit at the FĂȘte de la Fleur the following May. Barbara was so enamoured by the landscape and people that she had already written a few poems recording her feelings, so since nobody in the village spoke English, she translated the work ready for the exhibition. When Russi had illustrated her poems, the couple made a pamphlet as a convenient way of recording their first year in Alaigne, as well as showing their neighbours exactly how they felt about living in France. The exhibition was a great success, largely due to the portrait of Albert, their immediate neighbour, which is very true-to-life, and of which he is enormously proud, so much so that he invited his relatives from neighbouring villages to view it!
Equinox, September, 2005


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