Interview published on L'Essentiel Agenda by Kattalin Dalat

Trip to Exopotamia with the editor
Mélanie Cessiecq-Duprat

In 2020, as the world retreated in the face of the health crisis, Exopotamie editions opened their doors and designed a path so that poetry could run freely. After six published works and as many future projects, the magazine L'Essentiel went to meet the director and editor Mélanie Cessiecq-Duprat, her taste for texts unearthed here and there and especially where poems grow like flowers stone piercer.

If you look for the Exopotamia desert on a map, you will not find it, except now at Bastide-Clairence in the Basque Country, where Mélanie Cessiecq-Duprat has set up her publishing house created in 2020. Or (l one does not prevent the other), you will have to (re)read “An Autumn in Beijing” by Boris Vian to tread this depopulated land of sand where a few absurd characters are trying to build a railway.

The editor who was looking for an imaginary place name for her project found the perfect reference, spacious enough to contain and release the poetic gesture. “In ancient Greek, the word Exopotamia means: exo (outside) and potamós (river or river). Something that evolves alongside, outside or in parallel,” explains Mélanie Cessiecq-Duprat, whose taste for unmarked trails is confirmed in particular by the choice of the works selected.

In the land of Exopotamia, certain subjects are breathable more than others, palpable in the air like a backdrop. “My experiences and my pied-noir origins made me aware of the themes of identity, borders, landscapes, explorations,” says the editor. His professional career in art and audiovisual is also reflected. The woman readily talks about musicality, colors and movements to approach the selected works. “All of them have in common that they have a common thread. I am rarely interested in collections constructed in a so-called “classical” way, in texts that follow one another without making a connection,” she explains. We return to Boris Vian's famous railway, this spine which holds the reader and leads him somewhere, even to the void, provided that the journey is full and does not lose anyone along the way.

Orality, painting, drawing, photography, music spontaneously find their place in this space imagined by a woman with a beating heart and journey and whose inner terrain was undoubtedly predestined to poetic scents. Mélanie Cessiecq-Duprat discovered a connection with writing while she studied audiovisual at the Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux, during workshops on language in the presence of the poet Emmanuel Hocquard. She then made odds and ends and on a typewriter her first publishing house “Les éditions du vide-poche” between 1995 and the year 2000. She worked in the world of video, within a dance company and became manager for a Maison des arts then coordinator of a higher art school. In 2020, she decided to cultivate her own land. She returned to video as artistic director and founded Éditions Exopotamie.

Creating a publishing house specializing in poetry is no easy feat. While many enjoy writing it, the readership is slim. The specialist arts editor knows this well: “I can understand people's reluctance towards poetry: it reminds me of the clash that can occur when faced with contemporary art. The connection may be obvious or require an effort to feel or understand the logic of the work, its brush, its voice, its path. It could be a play of lights, a break, an interruption.”

At Exopotamie editions, the texts are Écho, Écumes or Éclats, three collections soon joined by the latest addition: Extras. The Éclats collection currently includes three collections. Morning of light by Jasmin Limans, Poetry-Paleo by Maxime Morel, or even, A woman is an Indian , by Murielle Camac. At the start of the next school year, this collection will be enriched with Tom Saja's collection, This hand that holds the fire . Resonant like little inner melodies, the Échos collection includes two collections: Runaways by Marie Lo Pinto and This little and everything capsizes by Samuel Buckman. As for the Écumes collection which likes to link poetic texts and graphic works, there is Live in a glass house by Nicolas Rouzet and Pauline Rouzet. He will be joined by The blood of girls by Julie Nakache and All these things that make the night crack by Cécile A. Holdban during this 2022-2023 season. “This collection is a more obvious entry point into the world of poetry,” explains Mélanie. Finally, the collection by François Froget, Polaroids , will inaugurate this year the Extras collection, more oriented towards the form of new poetics.

In short, Exopotamia is far and near at the same time. All you have to do is walk through the door of a local bookstore, visit the official website or open one of the published collections to find the grains of sand. We obviously recommend that you follow them: they all lead somewhere.

Kattalin Dalat

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