Marcela Delpastre

MARCELA DELPASTRE (1925 - 1998) was an immense poet, prose writer and gatherer of tales and songs, an Occitan ethnopoetics practitioner from the Corrèze region of the Limousin--or “occupied Occitania.” Though she studied philosophy and literature in high school and then decorative arts in Limoges, she gave it all up in 1945 to return to Germont, the small village where she was born and would die, to run the family farm. Writing both in Occitan and in French, she produced a massive oeuvre still in the process of being published (by Jan dau Melhau at Edicions Jan Chamin de Sant-Jaume). As one commentator put it: “She is as much of a literary genius as Manciet or Rouquette and yet in France she is accorded much less recognition, being considered a less-valued “peasant-poet.” A witness of the profound upheavals of the post-World War II era, she cultivated an ongoing absolute relationship to the--her--land and to her language(s), through conscious and reactive writing and persistent anger, both nourished by ethnography and a deep knowledge of ecosystems and of the human soul. This profound relation to the earth and the spiritual world it reveals, a quasi-shamanistic process visible in the poems here published, is compacted in the term she insisted on using to define herself: the low-Limousin word meaning ‘peasant,’ which is a homophone of the French word “paien,” meaning “pagan.” [Commentary excerpted from the forthcoming publictaion of the poems in Jerome Rothenberg’s revised and expanded edition of Technicians of the Sacred.]

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