An Interview with Cendrine Marrouat

Interview by Rachel Brooke Knudson

Hi Cendrine! Thank you for agreeing to speak with us, we can't wait to delve into your artistry. On your website, you have previously described your artistic intent to ‘capture the fleeting, but true beauty of life in its many forms’ Would you be able to give us a little background information on how you would personally describe yourself, as well as your practices and objectives as an artist?

I would describe myself as a minimalist artist who loves to challenge herself. Anything short, concise and punchy is my jam. That’s why I chose to focus on the Haiku, and create artforms that allow me to explore my creativity in a fun way. As an artist, my goal has always been to inspire and encourage people to embrace the little things that make life such an exciting journey.

By extension, would you be able to give us a little insight into the primary ways in which you feel art has been most impactful on your life?

I am an only child. Growing up, I had very few friends and was quite a loner as a teenager. I wrote sappy stuff during that period, like other kids. My mother was a teacher and adored art, especially classical music, books, and the piano. My father introduced me to great bands and history books. My grandfather read several hours every day and loved crosswords. Their insatiable curiosity about the world is in my DNA.

Art has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. So of course, it has had a great impact on the way I see the world, especially because of the emotional connection attached to it.

Following on from this, your poetry in particular contains a reoccurring motif of death. Is there anything in particular that draws you to poetry as a method for exploring these themes and, by extension, do you feel this artform is a particularly effective medium of art in relation to coping mechanisms?

I started writing poetry seriously in 2005. It was more of an urge than anything else. I was in the middle of my huge depression and immediately noticed the lighter feeling I experienced after I was done writing. The more I wrote, the better I felt.

When my depression was under control a few years later, I decided to continue writing poetry because I saw the impact it had on people. For example, my early book, Short Poetry for Those Who Fear Death, was received very positively. One reader emailed me, thanking me for saving their life!

You also mention that in the past you have delved into the theatrical sphere and written a play. Would you be able to give us an insight into how you found this process as an artist who has used their art to punctuate healing from difficult experiences?

While working on In the Silence of Words, my play, in 2007, I realized that it was like writing a (very long) haiku. You have to say less and show more by “sprinkling” bits and pieces of information that readers / viewers have to catch so they are ready for the climax / realization (twist / surprise in the last line of the haiku) and the whole meaning of the play to unfold.

Poetry and theatre allow you to explore difficult and challenging topics in an almost non-threatening way. I find other artforms often more “abrupt” or “in your face” when it comes to that. That is why I have used both poetry and theatre to talk about death and suicide, among other heavy topics. It has been a way for me to share my experiences with both, as well as offer a perspective that challenges the status quo.

You are credited with the creation of a multitude of artistic practices, ranging from poetic forms adapting the haiku to photographic styles. The reminigram, for example, is style of black and white photography that you have birthed which, as you describe on your website, ‘pays homage to the early days of photography, while taking advantage of modern technology’, Would you be able to tell us a little bit about this idea, and how the artforms that you have pioneered have been informed by your life and, if relevant, how your life has been informed by these styles?

As a photographer, I have always been interested in old photographic processes. Unfortunately, I don’t have any room at home to experiment with them. Back in the mid-2010s, I tried to replicate the Daguerreotype digitally. Of course, this is impossible to do so I failed miserably. But, I came up with the idea of creating my own type of digital image, the Reminigram, so I could explore photography in a different way.

Creating reminigrams is a fun and fascinating process. First, I select a photo that I took and I want to transform. Then I search the internet for an old image whose mood fits my vision. Finally, I use a few pieces of software to “borrow” as many elements (e.g. scratches, blurriness, contrast, etc.) from that mood as possible. The result is an image that arouses curiosity because it is in stark contrast with the sharpness and flawlessness of modern photography.

The reminigram is a way to re-imagine the past, another form of storytelling. Of course, since the images I choose come from my archives, I also have a personal connection to them.

The same goes for the Sixku, Flashku, Kindku, and Pareiku. As the “-ku” indicates, those forms are based on the Haiku. They also borrow from other concepts, including Found Poetry.

The Sixku is a six-word poem inspired by a photograph. The Kindku is a short poem of seven lines ( 7/5/7/5/7/5/7 or 5/7/5/7/5/7/5 syllable pattern) that must include seven words taken from a specific source. Fellow poet and author David Ellis and I created it together, just like the Pareiku, a unique type of art whose goal is to link together two seemingly unrelated images with a poem (7/5/7 syllable pattern). Finally, my Flashku borrows from the Sixku and Kindku; in this short flash fiction piece, you must write a 50-100 word story inspired by an image, while using 7 words from another piece.

David and I have worked together for a few years. We created Auroras & Blossoms in 2019 to promote positive, uplifting and inspirational written and visual art, and give artists (ages 13 and over) of all levels a platform where they can showcase their work and build their publishing credits.

We run regular submission calls for digital anthologies, a monthly show, a year-long artistic movement, and an artist collective. The content is fully family-friendly.

In 2019, you co-created PoArtMo Collective, establishing a collective of artists united by their belief that ‘good art goes beyond technical aspects; it tells memorable stories’ with a focus on positivity, upliftment and inspiration. In particular, the description you offered of your grandmother’s passing depicted a rarely portrayed positivity towards death, which stemmed from her gratitude for the ability to take control of her passing. Have these experiences and exposure to such attitudes informed the objectives behind your artworks?

Death and loss are terrible, and yet they will teach you the value of life. They leave you empty and in pain, and yet, if you embrace them, they will allow you to experience spiritual transformation.

Even though she was never diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my mother showed all the symptoms for it. She had also attempted to kill herself many times. When the second to last attempt happened, I started preparing myself for the worst. My mother had stated many times that she did not want to get better. When she passed, the grieving process happened quickly. I felt at peace because I knew she was in a much better place. I had no anger, just love for her. It was very liberating.

The same happened with my grandmother. When she learnt she had cancer, she refused treatment, saying that she wanted to die on her own terms. So, I stayed in France for several months to take care of her, which strengthened our bond in a beautiful way. As her body grew weaker daily, so did my grief, because I knew I was allowing her to die the way she wanted. I was there when she took her last breath and it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever experienced. The last image I have of her is what looked like a smile on her face.

My work draws heavily from those kinds of experiences, including my 10-year depression. They have taught me many important lessons. As an artist, I feel that it is very important to share them so I can help others.

Actually, I believe that it is impossible to create impactful and memorable stories without experience or deep understanding of the topics covered in them.

You have previously listed Kahlil Gibran and Alphonse de Lamartine as your literary inspirations. Would you be able to tell us a little bit about how (if at all) the work of other creators has impacted your life and, additionally, the production of your own artwork? Are there any particular artists that sparked your interest in creating art that helps others deal with difficult experiences, whose art has perhaps lent the same hand to you?

Gibran’s The Prophet is the most inspirational book I have ever read. It came into my life at a time when I needed it the most, providing comfort and peace. I read it at least once a year.

Another book that has really influenced me is Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.

I love classic authors like Jane Austin and Shakespeare. While I am not a huge fan of Elizabeth Bishop’s, her poem One Art has inspired two of my poems.

Finally, do you have anything in particular that you’re working on that you would like to promote to JADEN’s readers, either relating to the impact of art on your life or just in general, and any information regarding where they can best find your work and keep up to date with your upcoming projects?

I have a few books ready for release. The first one will be out on May 25, 2021. As its title indicates, Songs in Our Paths: Haiku & Photography (Volume 2) is all about haiku and photography. The series is an invitation to reflect on the world that surrounds us and enjoy its mundane, but often overlooked beauty.

I also want to release a new book with the PoArtMo Collective this year to follow our lovely multimedia release titled Seizing the Bygone Light: A Tribute to Early Photography. And of course, there is Auroras & Blossoms, which remains my most important project to date. David Ellis and I have several new ideas in the pipeline. We will release more guides in our series for authors and artists, and look forward to publishing more anthologies featuring inspirational and positive artists in several disciplines!


Where to contact and find out more about Cendrine Marrouat


Facebook: haikushack

Twitter: @haiku_shack

YouTube: cendrinemarrouat

Auroras & Blossoms:

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