Rendez-Vous de l'Alliance with Melissa Bonin

Date: 02 Apr 2024, 6:30pm - 8:30pm GMT-6 Central Time (US & Canada)


Embark on a poetic journey through the enchanting landscapes of Louisiana as we welcome Melissa Bonin to our Rendez-Vous Lecture series. Join us for an evening immersed in the magic of her latest creation, "When Bayous Speak, Lorsque les bayous parlent."

This extraordinary book is a testament to Melissa's artistic prowess, featuring a unique blend of bilingual poetry in French and English alongside her own breathtaking paintings. "When Bayous Speak" stands as a historical first in Louisiana's literary landscape, making it a coveted collector's item. This limited edition, 160-page hardcover art book showcases Melissa's talents with 40 spot-varnished color plates on high-quality paper.

Reviews praise the rarity of a francophone Louisiana woman poet publishing such a collection. Melissa Bonin's work echoes the tradition of ekphrasis, where poetry and painting intertwine. The sensuality and sensibility found in both mediums create a harmonious dialogue, offering a unique perspective on Louisiana's landscapes and history.

As we delve into this exquisitely feminine exploration, Melissa Bonin's book becomes a narrative where the voices of women, often unheard, find expression. It invites us to consider the unspoken narratives behind the laments of lost love and the untold stories that shape our understanding of Louisiana's cultural tapestry.

This Rendez-Vous Lecture is not just an opportunity to witness the convergence of poetry and art but a celebration of Louisiana's rich heritage. Join us for an evening of insight, reflection, and appreciation for the intricate interplay between language, history, and the vibrant landscapes of the bayous.

Don't miss this chance to be part of a literary event that transcends boundaries and resonates with the soul of Louisiana. Secure your spot now for an unforgettable evening with Melissa Bonin, a true visionary shaping the cultural narrative of our beloved region.

Title: WHEN BAYOUS SPEAK, Lorsque les bayous parlent

Author: Melissa Bonin


 Educated at University of Louisiana, Lafayette and L’Université Catholique de l’Ouest, Angers, France, Melissa Bonin, a native Louisianian, francophone, Francophile.  She has worked as a visual artist, poet, lyricist and mansion artist for Governor Kathleen Blanco. Awards include Bunk Johnson, Trailblazer and Women Who Mean Business. Recent exhibitions/presentations include: Residency in Chianti, Italy, Salon du livre, Montréal, San Miguel, Poetry Week, Hilliard Museum and New Brunswick, Canada where she was the first woman artist/poet to represent Louisiana for The Acadian World Congress. She has presented her works to Mexican, Italian, French and Canadian audiences in English, French and Italian. Publications include: A Unique Slant of Light, National Endowment for the Humanities, Expressions of Place by John Kemp, The Oxford American, Ô Malheureuse, Feu Follet, Mockingheart Review, Roundtop Anthology, and more.


"There have been very few francophone Louisiana women poets who have published collections of their own work. Two things come to mind when thinking about Melissa Bonin’s book. One, is of course ekphrasis because there is relation between her poetry and her paintings. Maybe not in a direct sense as in poems about the landscapes that she admirably delivers on the canvas, but there is a relationship between the sensuality and sensibility of both. That observation leads to number two: the exquisitely feminine aspect of her writing. It may not be politically correct nowadays to speak in such gendered terms, but we do say Mother Earth for a reason. Like the conceit behind Ashlee Michot’s anthology "Ô Malheureuse!", the woman's point of view is given a voice. If a male singer laments his lost love in many a Cajun song, "tu m'as quitté pour t'en aller" (You left me… “Jolie Blonde”), maybe we need to hear her side of the story to know why she left in the first place."
-David Cheramie

" Titian called the paintings assembled for the first time since the 16th century, at the Gardner Museum in Boston, poetry. Like the great Italian, the native Louisianian, Melissa Bonin is a poet, in every etymological sense of the word.  She is a "maker", "craftsman", in other words, "artisan", in everything she does, whether it be a Creole cheesecake, a painting, or a poem. In her poems, words and images interlace, one with the other. Her liquid landscapes merge and become the images that stir within us through her poems, explaining each other, responding to each other.  

"Her poems always lead us to haunting themes: the permanence of the past, the strength of women, the loss of paradise. Whether it be the saints pressing on her grandmother's chest, the drop of blood on an airport floor, the little girl nestled in the silk of a wedding dress, her metaphors sing of the eternal feminine, source of stability, continuity, generosity, eternity.  And in her landscapes, water, sky, and trees, respond to each other, as Baudelaire said, "in a dark and profound unity" She perceives the uniqueness in the multiplicity, the importance of the individual as part of the collective whole.  

"Lost Acadie merges into today's Louisiana, the echoes of the old language prevail in contemporary French and coexist with those of English, even if they lose their intensity in translation. In poems as concrete and tactile as her paintings, she invites us to share her passion for Louisiana, for femininity and also, to borrow the expression from Paul Éluard, for the “strong desire to endure.""

-Mathé Allain
Professor Emerita
School of Modern Languages 

Lorsque les bayous parlent, en tant que recueil ekphrastique de peintures et de poésie bilingue, en fran, à la fois écrit et peint par l’auteur elle-même, est une première en son genre dans l’histoire francophone louisianaise.

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