Aurélia Lassaque: Manchester

Under twilight’s brazen glare

It was under frost’s brazen glare that we went, last Tuesday, to hear Aurelia Lassaque read from her latest collection Solstice and other poems. Despite the cold it was great to see familiar faces in the audience, and experience this exception poet. There were also readings from myself, Anna Percy and Melanie Rees. John Leyland was a reassuring, jumper wearing presence, thank you to him for providing the venue and the bar!

Aurelia read her book length poem Solstice by reading it in Occitan and then James Thomas, her translator, read the English translation. They broke the poem into its time sections to do this, so first we heard St John’s Eve, Day in Occitan, then English.

Guests and Hosts:James Thomas, translator, Aurelia Lassaque, Anna Percy, Melanie Rees, Rebecca Audra Smith

Translator: James Thomas, Special Guest: Aurelia Lassaque, Hosts and Guests: Anna Percy, Melanie Rees, Rebecca Audra Smith. 

I was pretty interested in the character Bella in her poetry, and had the opportunity to speak to Aurelia about this. Here’s an extract that features Bella:

Bella’s hair unfurls between fingers of grass.


Under twilight’s brazen glare

popular-tree shadows dance

around her skin of fire.

from Saint John’s Eve, Evening, Solstice.


The woman Bella, stands on the side of beauty and natural forces, on the other side stands the social community of village, men children elders, the force of social order that is then reflected in animals, the domestic versus the wild. During the solstice, a time of intensity when boundaries break down, the domestic becomes wild through the transfiguring process of the poem.

I also got to speak to James Thomas, the translator, about the creative experience of translating poetry. If poetry is what gets lost in translation then what is gained through the exchange between languages? What nuances do we lose but are also added through this process.

My response to a line of Solstice:

Eyes like dead birds


Limp and damp and broken

have you seen them?

pigeons under bridges

their wings splayed out like angels

tattered bodies

city breeders

the flight of cars constant

as dreams early morning


stars glare through dust

a girl swings high heels

from one hand by the straps

a taxi’s horn empties her head

birds are keening

somewhere elsewhere

© BeccaAudra

Photography by Sarah Logan.


The Stirred quad is formed of Rebecca Audra Smith, Anna Percy, Jasmine Chatfield and Lenni Sanders.

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Posted in BeccaAudra, Events, Guest Poet
One comment on “Aurélia Lassaque: Manchester
  1. […] was partly inspired by the Stirred Poetry reading I went along to last week. This story is for Becca, and of course for […]

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The Stirred team at Reclaim the Night Manchester 2015
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