Defying Fate, like most of Maurice Carème’s poetry, is marked by its fluency and ease of access. Here are poems that charm at first sight, short, seductive to the eye and ear, satisfyingly metrical and given to rhyme. Their subject matter is generally familiar to us – children, silence, death, God, the troubled mind – and is argued and developed in ways we can follow with sympathy; this is poetry to identify with, poetry of shared emotion and aesthetic satisfaction.
In his introduction, Martin Sorrell calls Carème “A poet of tact. What he says may be disturbing, but the way in which he says it remains well-mannered”, and Christopher Pilling, in his sensitive and resourceful translation, conveys this absolutely. Defying Fate, which, incidentally was published posthumously, is a fascinating introduction to this intriguing Belgian poet.
"Careme demonstrates over and over of how he 'believe(s) more in the heart's dark shadow than the light of intelligence.'"
Marcus Smith, Envoi
Maurice Carème was born in 1899 in Wavre, a small town in Brabant-Wallon, Belgium. In 1918, he left Wavre to become a primary school teacher in Brussels and married a fellow-teacher, Andrée Gobron in 1924. He gave up teaching to write full-time in 1943. Author of some ninety books, novels, short stories, fables and essays, as well as poems, he published a collection of poems nearly every year from 1947 to 1975. He won numerous prizes in Belgium and abroad and, in Paris in 1972, was elected “Prince des poètes” to succeed Jean Cocteau. He died in 1978 (working till his final afternoon) and Defying Fate appeared in 1987.