Monday, September 14, 2020

Behind the Typewriter: Françoise Hélène

“Poems are part of our broken soul, they are our happiness, our dreams, our nightmares and everything in between.”

- Françoise Hélène

Françoise Hélène is the living embodiment of what it is to see the good in life, live authentically, and show compassion to everyone you encounter in life. Born in New Brunswick, Canada, she quickly developed a zest for seeking inspiration in everyday life.

In school, she learned English and soon became enamored with memorable quotes and song lyrics. That admiration foretold what the future would bring on the other side of the world.

After moving to London in 2018, Françoise began writing poetry and within three months won a competition in honour of her very first poetry collection. That provided the inspiration to continue writing and eventually compile those works into a first full-length poetry book.

A lover of music, nature, art, and philosophy as well, she is never at a loss for inspiration and a connection to nature and the universe.

On June 18th 2020, Françoise released a collection of her own poems titled 'Us & Everything Else: Evocative Poetry'.

"Explore the highs and lows of a life well-lived with Françoise Hélène's poignant poetry collection in Us & Everything Else: Evocative Poetry. Each poem reflects on the beauty and pain that inhabits our days and lights or darkens our path through life. Written with raw emotion and a deep desire to give hope to the hopeless and spread joy in moments of deep sorrow, this moving collection is more than words on the page. It's a collective movement to live your most authentic life, practice self-love, relinquish negativity, embrace the beauty in the world around you, celebrate diversity, and inspire you to see, feel, and share the beauty of everyday lives with your head held high. Inside, you'll find a path forward, a prescription for healing from whatever ails you, and simple instruction for accepting our differences, embracing diversity, and healing the world from the inside out. Read this book and discover who you're truly meant to be and how much you truly have to offer yourself and the world around you."

I sat down with Françoise to ask some questions about her new release and to delve into the mind of the talented poet.

Do you come from a literary background?

Not at all. My mother tongue is French, and I started learning at the end of primary school. However, French was my favourite class!

I loved writing in French and words from a young age, and after beginning to learn English, I discovered the world of English quotes and song lyrics, which became an inspiration for me.

Around this time, I also started to write song lyrics, but officially began writing poetry in autumn 2018 and then started to put them on pages.

Shortly after, I won my first poetry competition. I was in Prague, and waiting for a flight back to London, and I just entered a first poetry competition by sending my very first twenty poems. It was the start of my poetry adventure.

What inspires you to write?

My biggest inspirations are music and humanity. I do get inspired by my personal experiences and the world around me; happiness and pain -- the light and the darkness. I sometimes ask people to give me a word to inspire me, because it's a fun way to engage with others.

Did you write as a child?

My mom sent me a "poem" I wrote when I was seven years old. It's about a dog stuffed animal I had. His name was "Snowflake" in English which is "Flocon" in French.

In French it actually rhymes, "Flocon est gentil, Flocon est mignon, Flocon est joli, Flocon est champion".

In English it doesn't rhyme at all, but here is the translation:

"Snowflake is nice, Snowflake is cute, Snowflake is pretty, Snowflake is a winner."

I must have written this in the winter...

How did you get started as a poet?

I started writing poetry, not long after moving to London in 2018 when my life took a change in direction. I really can't remember exactly how and the moment I started writing; it just happened naturally. I had so many emotions on the inside, and writing poetry became the best way to express myself, it gave me a sense of peace and freedom.

I also felt really inspired by London, the poetry, art, and music scenes are impeccable.

What's your writing process?

I write whenever my inspiration comes along so, I'll sometimes write a poem on my phone while walking to the park.

I often write a poem before going to sleep, as my thoughts are drifting away. I feel a lot of emotions for my inside and the outside world. I wear my heart on my sleeve and love getting in touch with my feelings. I also feel a lot for other people and love to observe the outside world, which also inspires me to write. I let my soul write, it usually takes me a good ten minutes to write a poem. But I do not spend hours working on one poem. Writing a poem is a feeling you get within you, and it just comes out when it wants to.

My writing is very raw, especially in my book, Us & Everything Else. I am currently writing my second poetry book, and I think I might do more editing in this one. Because of the nature of this first book, which is all about taking the road to authenticity, I moved along with that theme and my poems are as raw as possible.

Which poem from your book is your favourite?

Humm, I really love "Little Darling", because it resonates with me a lot and it's a poem I'll read to my niece when she gets older. It's about believing in yourself, going passed anxiety and life challenges, and following your goals/dreams in life.

In my eyes, it's an endearing and light-hearted poem that lifts me at the moment.

Little Darling

My little darling

why are you still up at this time of night?

Are you caught up in your dreams

or are you battling against your fight?

This day can never be long enough

when all you are drowning into is your love

You've held your chin so high

I've forgotten you could still cry

If city lights could stay in the dark

for as long as you would like them to

Would you stop sleeping and stay awake

from one end of the world to the other?

If candlelights could replace the black

of your living bedroom

Would you let the stars run away

or let them settle in your pillow?

If the sunrise disappears on you in the morning

would you let it got?

Or would you search for it

until you find it again?

My little darling

It's time to fall asleep

And ready yourself

to live your wildest dreams

Which poem did you edit the most?

I've not edited my poems very much, but one I've edited the most is "The Author", which is the first poem in my book. Some poems on Instagram, I've left very raw.

The Author

Characters of different stories

I let them be

Tracing with a pencil the inner of my beauty

My flaws have never come out so perfectly

When the sun awakens

This disfunctional world

It sets me free

And when it goes to sleep in its red and orange blankets

It takes me away in a surreal solitude

It's my peace of mind

When I find myself in darkness

I feel pain on the tip of my fingers

The fear

The adrenaline

Make me feel more alive than ever

This loneliness is digging into my soul

I do not want it, but I do need it

If you tore it apart

It won't always get ruined

My precious moments will always be mine

The way the wind sounds like infinity

Pretty birds and flying wings

Another lecture of its kind, of its meaning

My rhythms are playing the piano; they are the tranquility

I possess in me

Our sorrows, they will surrender

My reflection when I see it,

It talks to me

I listen even if I don't always agree

The unknown and uncertainty

They temporarily destroy me

but when another chapter finished

I will always be

the narrator of this undefined poetry book!

Unedited version

Characters of different stories, I let them be.

Tracing with a pencil, the inner of my own beauty, my flaws have never come out so perfectly.

When the sun awakens, this disfunctional world, it sets me free

And when it goes to sleep in his red and orange blankets, it takes me away in a surreal solitude, it's my peace of mind.

When I find myself in darkness, I feel pain on the tip of my fingers. The fear, the adrenaline, it makes me feel more alive than ever.

This loneliness, it's digging my soul. I don't want it but I need it.

If you tore it apart, it won't always get ruined

My precious moments, they will always be mine.

The way the wind sounds is just like infinity. Pretty birds and flying wings, another lecture of its own kind, of its own meaning.

My rhythms, they are playing piano. They get me every time;, they are the tranquility I possess in me. Our sorrows, they will surrender.

My reflection, in the water. When I see it, it talks to me. I listen, even if I don't always agree.

The unknown and uncertainty, they temporarily destroy me, but when the chapter finishes, I'll always be the narrator of this undefined autobiography!

Who are your favourite poets?

I love Emily Dickinson, Wendell Berry, Robert Frost, Rupi Kaur. One of my favourite poems is "She Walks in Beauty" by Lord Byron. I think in general; I appreciate simplicity and originality in poetry. I love when poems have a "punch line", I love reading something that has a deep meaning, it feels very nurturing to me.

Which books have you enjoyed reading this year?

I don't read many novels, when I read, I often get distracted by ideas or writing. I prefer reading something short which is why I love poetry books or books I can learn from. I loved 'The Sunshine Kid' by Harry Baker, 'This is Your Brain on Music' by Daniel Levitin.

What's the first book that made you cry?

The Notebook, my favourite love story. There's a bunch of hopeless romantic quotes within these pages, which I absolutely love!

What's your favourite childhood book?

I loved books that included animals, a dancing character or a princess. I can't remember the title of my very favourite one, though it was certainly a French book.

What's your favourite quote?

I have so many, and I have quotes printed out in my room! But this quote by Nelson Mandela brings me back to my goals each time when I have bad days. "It always seems impossible until it's done."

What are you currently reading?

I'm reading 'Albert Einstein: His Work and its Influence on Our World' by Leopold Infeld which is a book I recently picked up at a book market near Southbank. I read a lot of online articles about spirituality and a positive mindset. I love reading about something that inspires me or a book that has a philosophical nature. I'm also reading 'The Princess Saves Herself in This One' by Amanda Lovelace, as I was curious to read it, and I've just ordered a copy of 'Manatomy' by James McDermott.

How do you like to relax?

I love going on a lot of walks and spending time in nature. I also meditate on a regular basis, and I love listening to music, or attending small live music venues, going to markets and writing poetry. I love reading articles that teach me about spirituality and self-discovery. Having a chat or spending time with close friends is always good as well as chatting to my niece and nephews always bring a smile to my face.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee is always my number one. I enjoy lots and lots of cups of coffee on a daily basis. I'm a big fan of matcha lattes' as well and love drinking peppermint tea in the evening.

Physical book, e-book or audiobook?

I love physical books; it feels more authentic to me. I don't read e-books; I really dislike the feeling of reading a book online, so I don't. Although I do read a lot of articles online.

Any advice to aspiring authors?

To keep learning and keep going, "you write and learn". Try not to compare yourself to other authors, if you need help or feedback, don't be afraid to ask for it and most importantly, try to overcome the fear of sharing your work because you are fearful of being judged -- it's certainly not easy. But I think it's great to live your life with as little regrets as possible.

Try to focus more on the positive sides of your writing journey and get involved with the community of authors. It's fun!

Instagram: @francoisehelenepoetry_

Facebook: Francoisehelenec

Twitter: @francoisehelen1

*Author profile and blurb copied from Françoise's website.

Victoria Marie. X

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