“Corona seed / And other travel pollens” is a collection of poems that deal with topics of confinement, travel, and nature through humanistic admiration.
Moroccan publishing house “Les Infrequentables” just released a new collection of poems titled “Graines de Corona / Et autres pollens de voyages” (Corona seed / And other travel pollens) by Swiss poet Bruno Mercier. Moroccan painter Dea El Foutayeni illustrated the 82 poems with his watercolor work.
A project born of friendship
The author described “Corona seed / And other travel pollens” to Morocco World News as “A project between Morocco and Switzerland, born of friendship between a poet, his publisher, and a young painter.” Mercier explained that he began working on the poetic documentation of his confinement immediately, collaborating with the publisher and the illustrator using only online tools.
Mercier’s poems are “free” in the sense that they do not follow traditional poetry structures. A sample from the titulary “Corona seed” poem from April 18 reads:
“Three billion confined
Deprived of the outside.
My imagination runs out of the window
Falls on the sidewalk opposite.
I go out to pick it up,
A walk in the void.”
Subtle watercolor illustrations by El Foutayeni add to the sensitivity of artistic expression. A “serene dialogue” between word and illustration, the collection guides the readers through multiple locations. The poet and the illustrator established a long-lasting artistic collaboration which enables their messages to fully complete one another. The two artists collaborated on a poetry collection “Passion du Tigre” (Passion of the Tiger) in 2006 and on “Vapeurs de Sodium” (Sodium Vapors) in 2007.
The book’s creative process followed the unusual times: Mercier explained that he only spoke with the publisher and the illustrator online, using digital tools such as WeTransfer and e-mail to showcase freshly created artworks and receive feedback.
Precariousness of the pandemic
The book is an important literary position during the global COVID-19 crisis. The poet guides the readers through the feelings he experienced while locked down in his house in Lausanne. Themes of frustration, newly discovered love and longing for the outside, and ways to deal with the negative feelings universally speak to readers across the globe.
The poet described his creations during the pandemic as “enhanced by the surreal yet very real context.” Mercier spoke very honestly with Morocco World News about the reality of creating art during the pandemic. The poet felt deprived of culture because he could not go to a museum or a cinema, so he started contacting his friends who are also artists to “escape the frustration.”
Mercier also spoke out about the economic implications of the pandemic for the art sector. He outlined the precariousness of art as a career: Many artists are now facing financial problems, fearing that they may not even be able to buy food if they do not secure any project commissions. “Corona seed,” the author revealed, could come into existence because he does not only rely on project commissions, having other sources of income.
Swiss-Moroccan poetic camaraderie
Mercier chose to work with the publishing house “Les Infrequentables” because of his long-lasting friendship with Abdelrhaffar Souiriji. The small poetry publisher from Marrakech has long been collaborating with Bruno Mercier. “Grains of Corona” is Mercier’s seventh publication in Morocco since his Moroccan debut with “Passion du Tigre” in 2006.
Bruno Mercier is a Swiss humanist and poet widely published in France, Morocco, Switzerland, and Germany. So far, the author has published 20 poetry collections, translated to several languages.
A travelling poet on a perpetual quest for “the human in us” and a nature lover, the author testifies his love for all people who wonder about the reason for their earthly existence, inviting the audience to travel, even if for now only mentally, and to celebrate life.