Portrait photo Caroline Chemarin

Caroline Chemarin

Words like magic glasses

Caroline Chemarin likes to read and compose; learn and share; discover and tell. From her travels, she brings back the memory of landscapes, encounters and animals which she then recounts, as others might draw them. It gives them new contours, without masking them completely. This is how the manicou becomes an image of courage... And the rat, weaver of words.
His characters are so many invitations to enter into the rhythm of nursery rhymes that are both sweet and joyful, recounting the small experiences of everyday life.

Sketch portrait

How do you like to introduce yourself?
That's a tough question… I think the answer depends on the context: Mom? Teacher? Children's author? Passionate about writing and languages?

What is your initial training?
I am a professor of Classics and Art History. That is to say that I followed a literary education at the same time as training as a cultural guide, centered mainly on Italy and on the Mediterranean imagination, before taking the public service competitions which allow you to teach.

Which reader are you?
That depends on the moments… Sometimes whimsical and jumping from one book to another; sometimes conscientious and orderly with an absolutely organized plan of attack; sometimes lazy, without any desire to read, and sometimes bulimic.

Portrait of a writer

How long have you been writing?
I've been writing since I could write. That is to say, as soon as I was given the tool and the way to use it, I played with it to invent poems, stories and fake magazines.

What made you want to write?
These are all the possibilities of inventions and games offered by writing...

How long have you been publishing?
My first book came out in December 2017.

What made you want to publish?
I wanted all these things that were only addressed to me or a few familiar people when I was writing in my corner to come out of this circle and meet unknown readers. I wanted to share my games and my stories. Moreover, it is very rewarding to see one's work recognized by a professional, a publisher. And the journey that accompanies the release of a book is extremely formative. Publishing therefore brings several types of satisfaction and my first experience did not encourage me to stop.

What genre do you like to write the most?
Without hesitation: poetry. But it is a genre whose publication and sales are very limited. Fortunately, there are the Polycontes! One of the reasons why I appreciate them so much is that beyond the narration, they are a permanent invitation to reflect on language: first through their form of rhythmic and metaphorical nursery rhymes, then through the games of translation.

In your job as a writer, what brings you the most?
Each step seems profitable to me: creating is a pleasure; rereading and negotiating are schools of listening; meeting young readers is both rewarding and instructive; going to trade fairs is reassuring… There is a whole world of book enthusiasts!

Portrait of Polyconteuse

What is your first children's book?
Moss and the Hummingbird is my first book for children. I both wrote and illustrated it. It is the first of the Polycontes, a collection which now brings together a large team of translators, authors and illustrators.

Why did you commit to this collection? What do you mean through it?
This collection is very pleasant to write and to see evolve: it seems that it does what it advises children to do. It encourages observation of the diversity of the world, dialogue and respect: for example, as soon as a story is written, it goes to the illustrator, to the translators and that's when the surprises and real exchanges, that is to say real teamwork. Each journey in a language provokes discoveries and awareness: how to translate "chimney" in Ndyuka? “Manicou” in Catalan?

Were the stories in this collection difficult to write?
Difficult? No… They evoke everyday situations or problems that children may face and the stories feel natural to me because I tell them as if I were speaking directly to those who will read them, like during a quiet little conversation in class or at the House.

Do you like writing this kind of book?
A lot, and I also like to discover the stories, translations and illustrations of all those who participate in the collection: everyone has their little secrets, their habits and their specialty.

What was your reaction when you discovered the work of the illustrator?
The first time Myriam Desclèves illustrated one of my Polycontes, I really liked her style, full of mastery and sensitivity. Its subtlety, too. Then, I went from surprise to surprise: it seems that she always adds these little extras that give the text an additional meaning.

Selections and prices

Ti-Jean and Ti-Manicou-Noël received the special jury prize at the Mirepoix fair in July 2019.
The entire collection was presented at the EDiLiC (Education for Linguistic and Cultural Diversity) congress in Lisbon in July 2019.
The Carnival of the Animals was shortlisted for the Prix Fetkann jeunesse in 2019 and Cabosse, a (wonderfully) ordinary little girl is part of the 2022 selection.

Interview by Clément Gambade
Caroline Chemarin is the author at Scitep of:

Carolina on the web

Interviewed as part of the Rendez-vous de l'Aliança , yesterday's radio meeting in the premises of the RTVA .

“On the radio, not a face, not a smile to accompany the communication: everything has to be constructed, linked, verbalized. Like in a written interview, you might say. The relentless writing that also erases intonations, delivery, laughter and silences... But no. Writing doesn't scare me. The radio, on the other hand, was new and a little impressive. You believe me, don't you, if I tell you that in the emotion, I did not find the premises of the RTVA in front of which I pass twice a day...? Fortunately, I was well helped by the facilitator, Jean-Michel Armengol. 😅 »

Caroline Chemarin is the author of:

  • Abolitions, published by Orphie in 2017
  • The collection Les Petits Polycontes SCITEP youth, born in 2018
  • Jokes and landscapes told in Pyrénées-Orientales , Mediterranean Roussillon Prize 2021 published by Les Presses Littéraires
  • Louise and the Madras doll , at Orphie in 2021
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