Six members of the arts group Rhizome in front of a camper van

Celebrating Canada’s Linguistic Duality: Rhizome’s Vocalités vivantes

In the photo, from left to right: Ariane Lehoux, Yves Fréchette, Erick d’Orion,
David B. Ricard et Claudia Kedney-Bolduc
Photo: David B. Ricard


The Canada Council for the Arts is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act. To mark the event, the Council is highlighting the work of artists who are evolving our linguistic landscape.

A travelling troupe of Canadian artists

Founded in 2000, Rhizome is an organization grounded in research and innovation. This interdisciplinary project generator never loses sight of literary works as a starting point for its projects—in fact, one of Rhizome’s fundamental criteria for new projects is using text that is not intended for the stage, such as short stories, novels and poetry, as well as the active presence of the author and interdisciplinarity. From these, Rhizome presents literary performances in Quebec as well as across Canada and abroad.

Embarking on a cross-Canadian poetic journey

Always on the lookout for new and ingenious ways of exploring poetry, Rhizome essentially assembled a band of six literary adventurers and sent them off in a caravan in pursuit of their goal: meeting with people from Francophone minority communities across Canada. Using Carl Lacharité’s poem, Le vivant, as a springboard, Vocalités vivantes proved to be a one-of-a-kind literary and documentary project, a living testament to the vitality and diversity of French-language literature.

Conceptualized as a relational art journey between poetry and documentary, Vocalités vivantes is a series of encounters with poets from across Canada who contributed their own poetry to live performances of the original work, which was read by locals. Filmed, recorded, photographed and commented, the journey led to the creation of a live show, a documentary, a music album and a publication featuring poetry-based encounters. Rhizome’s proposal for Vocalités vivantes, an impressive and original project, was one of more than 200 projects selected under the Council’s New Chapter initiative.

Promoting French-language poetry at home and abroad

Rhizome’s caravan took Vocalités vivantes across 6,000 km of Canadian landscape, as far west as Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and as far east as Truro, Nova Scotia, collaborating with numerous Francophone minority community poets as well as building relationships with anglophone and francophone locals. By involving not only every stop’s selected poet but other locals as well in their unique project, Vocalités vivantes demonstrated how a minority language can thrive when it is shared and nourished through art forms like literature, music and film.