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Finding your voice with Amélie Racon

12 minutes

A Demi-mot is the story of a journey. A journey to find oneself and find others along the way. Meeting with Amélie Racon might have been My Qamar’s most intimate encounter thus far. Laid-back conversation, big bursts of laughter, the poetess and writer who makes herself scarce has a lot more to say than she lets on. 

“I love life and love is vital to me.”

There is no better way to introduce the woman behind the online poetry book that is A Demi-Mot. And you cannot miss it – her energy is bursting out of the screen.

At almost 32, Amélie is a well-rounded artist – drawing, painting, singing, she’s open to broaden her horizons even if writing is her first true love.

“I’m an artist at heart. As far as I can remember, writing has always been a part of my life. As a child, I wanted to become a reporter. I even created my own newspaper.” 

Later, she’s introduced to slam and writes with a passion in her moodbook, a mix between a diary and a poetry book where she collates texts, songs and everything that fuels her inspiration… a secret that she will be keeping for years to come. 

Writing as a vector of emotions

“Life is my biggest source of inspiration. I like watching the world, people around me, fantasise about their lives. We’re all in flux, my emotions… it all nurtures my art.” 

Writing is an escape for Amélie who is a self-avowed introvert. Her notebook is a haven for the things she cannot bring herself to express aloud; a haven she also found online three years ago with, a website where she shares her work.

“I write much more than I talk. Writing is vital to me, it’s my main vector of communication and the best way I know to express my emotions.”  

Which might explain the want to finally expose herself. After all, communication is a two-way relationship, asking for a watchful ear and a curious mind. It’s exactly how her journey with A Demi-Mot begins, the embodiment of her desire to crack open a small door into her universe and invite reactions from her audience.

“It all started in 2018 when I decided it was time to showcase my art to an audience, to get an outsider’s view on my writing.” 

A Demi-Mot is a microcosmic experience – it is a collision at a personal level, a tete-a-tete turning the reader into a wanderer, asking questions through Amélie’s perspective.

“We often think that our experiences are unique, but in the grand scheme of things, we’re all transcended by the same emotions. That’s what A Demi-Mot is about. It’s my perspective and it lets me see how people can identify with me, my experiences, my interrogations. I have no other intent than to share an intimate part of who I am.” 

Amélie likes simple things – poetry that is short and to the point; which doesn’t keep her from experimenting with a more copious style of writing. 

“Alice is like a series of short stories revolving around the same character who I identify a lot with. But it is true that I am still nervous to lose myself, or lose my readers in long-winded descriptions.” 

 In Les Chroniques d’Aml, the tone shifts as Amélie enters her own wonderland. She touches on hot topics and popular sources of debates online while offering her point of views and reflections through prose. 

Stepping back out of the virtual world, Amélie remains a prolific writer with a number of offline projects, some deeply personal and others which, she hopes, might be published online. 

“The lockdowns have been hard for everyone but it has also been an opportunity to create. I worked on a story with one of my friends. I can’t say more at this stage but it’s really something I would like to publish in the near future. It stemmed from a very simple question: what is our legacy when all of this is over? I’m feeling pretty proud of it and I’m thinking to myself, why not a book?” 

Laying down one’s roots

But it doesn’t stop there. Amélie is building herself an audience of all ages with a storybook dedicated to her baby niece who just made a smashing entrance into her life. 

“It doesn’t get any more offline than that… I’m working on a storybook for her and her only. These stories are about us, our home, the Caribbean experience because it’s so important to nurture this connection. I’m also hoping it will help her learn how to love books… it feels like it’s something we’re losing as a society.”

Transmission is important to Amélie who thinks that nowadays the arts are taking up more and more space in the ways we pass down Caribbean culture to future generations. 

“Beyond the frivolity associated with the arts, I think we better understand it is also a significant part of how we (re)connect with our culture. Art is less and less elitist, better put forward, more accessible in a real attempt at reappropriation. Our mindsets have changed, although there is still much to do… however I recognise my viewpoint is based on my current experience living for years on end in a big city where art is omnipresent.” 

A caveat to those who would like to rebut. It is true that living abroad for extended periods of time can distort the reality on the ground but it seems that the idea is pretty consensual on both sides of the Atlantic. Nevertheless, it is an issue Amélie will have to tackle in person as she prepares for her big return. 

“I’m an interior designer and I live in Paris but I recently got an opportunity to go back home to Guadeloupe. I think I’ve nurtured myself enough to practice my craft over there.” 

Going home is often a difficult choice to make – it is complicated, costly and requires a lot of pre-planning. Yet it is also seen as an invaluable benediction, almost a holy grale for those who still debate the idea. It generally coincides with the realisation that you’ve accumulated enough resources or knowledge to contribute to the collective advancement of the motherland. What we often forget to look at is how creole culture has impacted the world thanks to the many artists born in the Caribbean.  

“My perception is that more and more of us proudly claim their title – writer, poet, blogger, etc. To make our culture integral to our work is important simply because transmission is important. I don’t do it enough but I try the best I can. At the same time, I think that we should not lose sight of the fact that any work of art produced by an Afro-Caribbean artist is intrinsically Caribbean, even when it doesn’t adhere to self imposed codes. If the roots are Caribbean, the fruits must be too.” 

Admittedly, creole has become a passion for Amélie who blends the many regional languages from the overseas territories France is composed of. If it’s a guilty pleasure, it’s also a way for the artist to build proximity with a sister community she feels she could not find anywhere else. 

“Creole is my native tongue. I believe some things can only be expressed in creole. The words resonate as they never would in any other language. Some of our expressions just hit the mark and those who are meant to understand will do so immediately. Creole is a rich, image laden language which allows me to get through to a public familiar who can grab onto nuances, emotions, messages that only they can understand.”

For Amélie, creole is an identity marker we have to nurture like everything else, especially as afro-descendants of colonised peoples – and some would argue that we still are… colonised. 

“Creole’s place in our societies is growing larger and larger. I’m happy to see us studying it, trying to understand how it works, its etymology, especially the younger generation who is doing an amazing job at vulgarising the language. We need it – our language defines us, tells our story, is the guardian of our History. Forgetting creole would be forgetting who we are!” 

A fitting parallel as we conclude. Writing is a conversation between our selves and the rest of the world. It’s a voice, discreet but firm, which if we lend an ear, confesses our deepest secrets. Thank you, Amélie, for sharing yours. 

Going further

  • Her recommendations (Poetry / novels / Audiobooks / Podcasts)
    • Simone Lagrand’s poetry. She writes in creole, it’s fresh, full of images. You start with one, you devour all of it!
  • Three books by Iceberg Slim: Pimp, Mama Black Widow et Trick Baby. Based in the US of the 40-50’s, we plunge into the grimmy universe of drug trafficking and prostitution. I like his work, the fact that you can almost feel the clamminess in his words. Top!
  • Any book that includes the word “love” in its title. I know it’s cliché but I recommend it anyway because we have so many preconceived notions about what love is when there is just so much more to learn.
    • Eloge de l’amour by Alain Badiou which blends philosophy and sociology 
    • Cantique des tourterelles by Ernest Pépin. This book really impressed me when I was younger. It’s a love story full of revelations which explores love between women, confusion and self exploration. 

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Podcasts to listen to

  • Émotions which explains the mechanics of what we feel pretty well. 
  • Kiffe ta race with Rokhaya Diallo and Grace Ly. 
  • Entre nos lèvres where hosts Céline et Margaux question their relation to gendre and sexuality.
  • Philosophy is sexy where we explore notions like beauty or love in a very accessible manner because philosophy is not necessarily what you learn in school… and indeed, philosophy is sexy!

Playlist du moment

I don’t have a specific playlist, but at the moment I love everything that makes me twerk my ass (sic). I think it’s because of the pandemic. I haven’t gone out to let some steam off in a while so whenever I hear something remotely melodic, I can’t control myself! X-Man, Meryl, I have also discovered Dinos, a French rapper and I really like his album, Stamina. Rappers are poets too and I think he writes really well.