Éditions Exopotamie on “Terre à ciel” by Cécile Guivarch

Cécile Guivarch : Hello dear Mélanie Cessiecq-Duprat, you created the Exopotamie publishing house which today has 7 books of poetry to its credit. Can you tell us what led you to create this house?

Mélanie Cessiecq-Duprat


© Frédéric Vignale

Mélanie Cessiecq-Duprat : Hello dear Cécile, and thank you for granting me this interview. To tell you the truth, the idea of ​​embarking on this adventure came quite late in my career when I had already explored this type of experience, although informally, by creating Éditions du Vide-Poche a year ago. was over 20 years old, during my studies at the Beaux-Arts. What I liked about this first formula was that I was completely autonomous in each of the stages, from design to sale through manufacturing, and that it happened relatively spontaneously. For each book, it was just a matter of bringing together texts that I had written around a theme often linked to more or less hectic nocturnal activities (transcriptions of dreams, poems written after returning from festive evenings, etc.), then to sell them for a few coins or to exchange them for other craft publications made by people around me. Later, when I entered the world of work and for years, I exercised several professions linked to various fields of creation which, even if I understood the language, the principles and the issues, always gave me the impression of being a little off, as if I was touching on areas and forms of expression that were familiar to me but where something was always missing to make me feel completely in my place.

And then one day, I had just refused a permanent contract at the art school where I had worked for 5 years as coordinator, I decided to take the time to think about what I really wanted to do with my head and from my hands and there, in a form of rather inexplicable evidence, came the idea of ​​creating a publishing house, as if this long-buried desire had suddenly resurfaced from the depths.

Excerpt from A woman is an Indian , by Murièle Camac:

One step another

one arm another

I choose myself

as a partner

and I dance

with my back with my head

I crawl on the ground and sow

the seeds of evidence

I am twelve years old

a body of Sioux hunter

soft hair accompanies me

on the nails of red varnish

a whole life awaits me


CG : And how did its name, Exopotamia, come about?

MCD : After choosing to take this direction, I spent a year following various training courses and taking advice from editors I knew before the moment arrived, on the eve of opening my structure, to ask myself the question of the name. Quite quickly, I had the idea of ​​using that of a fictitious place to illustrate what I visualized as a territory which could embody the notion of the promised land, a sort of ideal landscape where, as in any ideal, nothing remains fixed nor rational. I first thought of Éditions Bab El Oued, because we always used this expression in my family: “meet/end up in Bab El Oued”, as we would more commonly say in our culture “in Pétaouchnok”. This usage led me to believe that it was an imaginary place until I discovered, a little disappointed, that in reality it was the name of a very well-known district of Algiers! Following that, I went through quite a few stages before remembering this place discovered during my adolescence in a book by Boris Vian, Autumn in Beijing , and which corresponded to a desert: that of Exopotamia. When I did research and discovered that in fact it did not exist anywhere on our maps and that its etymology (Exo: out of, and potamie/potamós: river or river) referred to that of Bab El Oued (Bab: door, El Oued: torrent or river), I decided to adopt it for my house, with the satisfaction of having found something that has meaning, and even a double: meaning as explanatory content and meaning as direction. So first that of a house which is not a rigid and closed block but rather an open and moving space, then that of the movement induced by the very term which refers to the idea of ​​being outside the flow, to apart, even against the grain, by choosing to be part of a movement like that of poetry which is anything but natural for most people.

Excerpt from Living in a Glass House, by Nicolas Rouzet:

Living in a glass house,

in the transparency of each gesture.


Travel the paths,

all the paths,

become your own path,


disappear there.


CG : So 7 books of poetry today... What writings do you want to defend? How did you choose these 7 books, these 7 authors? Perhaps for each book you can tell us what particularly motivated you?

MCD : As for the writings that I want to defend, although they are all different depending on the authors from whom they come, there are still common points in the contents that they convey and their motivations, such as a certain view of current events and the world, or the attention paid to the relationship between beings. Whether on questions related to the intimate, in everyday gestures and actions, the relationship to language, to the body, to others or to oneself, or on broader themes, which include more or less philosophical, referring to beliefs, creation, history or even politics, everything that relates to our time and the living are points that particularly touch me, which “speak” to me even I would say, and that I, in turn, want to make others hear it.

Regarding how I chose the 7 books published between 2020 and 2022, each has its own particular story. The first, Morning of Light , it was I who went looking for it one day by contacting its author, Jasmin Limans, whom I had followed for a long time on social networks and whose certain poems echoed reflections which animated me at the time. era, and which still animate me. What I liked about his writing is first of all a form of abundance, of generosity, which does not seek to correspond to current trends which often move towards economics. His texts navigate between lyricism and cynicism with a certain radicality, in dense and often visual forms, like expressionist paintings, sometimes figurative, sometimes abstract. This first book was built at the same time as I was preparing the launch of the publishing house and this created a strong bond with this author who became someone who still matters to me today.

Excerpt from the book Morning of Light by Jasmin Limans:

Sometimes we have to shatter conscience

Destroy the causes, circumstances and their justifications

Until the extermination of doubt

Until the annihilation of anguish


Our resistance is a permanent revolution

We are right to come back here to hunt our

own I – our dog of I of unfaithful love –

our unjustifiable self

I think it would be too long and boring for readers to tell the genesis of each book but I can tell you that even if certain manuscripts came into my hands through mutual acquaintances or following meetings done on my part, I tried to treat each text in the same way as those found in my mailbox, giving each one as objective a look as possible. Now, to cite a few significant anecdotes, there was that of the book which will be published next March, The Blood of Girls , by Julie Nakache, the manuscript of which I received shortly after meeting the author at a fair, and then that I had retained from this exchange the sensation of a particular connection, the text which followed happened to correspond to my first impression since everything with her, from the beginning of our meeting until the end of the conception of the book, took place in this same form of complicity and fluidity.

Julie Nakache, Diego Arrascaeta

Excerpt from the book The Blood of Girls , by Julie Nakache:

We lean

tries to grasp the threads that connect us

we whisper to comfort ourselves

lost in our wars


under the bombs and the pyres

we look for the side roads


Bodies tear the page

prevent speech

written blood does not stain the paper

packs of words on your skin




we are

submitted to the tenderness of song.

To finish with one last experience, the manuscript of the book published in fall 2022, This hand that holds the fire , by Tom Saja, arrived in my box the same day I moved into a new house, with a letter which immediately captured my attention. It began with “Dear Exopotamia”. As innocuous as it may seem, the formula had its little effect! Not to mention that in addition to the quality of the manuscript that went with it, the author spoke with enthusiasm about one of the books that I had previously edited – Poésie-Paléo , by Maxime Morel – citing what he perceived in common with his own text, all in a form of sincerity that left no room for doubt. Because it must be said, many forget when they send their manuscripts that the covering letter does not only consist of presenting the text and talking about oneself, but also of saying a few words about the house to which it is written. we're reaching out!

Tom Saja

Excerpt from This Hand That Holds the Fire , by Tom Saja:

Civilization is a blade

a fire in the night

an itch on the back of the traveler who

don't you dare look back

she displays her lures at eye level

it comes to lick with its burning the walls of the wild heart

the invisible walls of our submerged lives


she knows how to reduce us to statues of salt

a trick she has honed over the centuries

she who taught the old monkey to make a face

CG : You have created several collections, a little word for each?

MCD : There are 3 at the moment:

  • The Éclats Collection, which carries relatively solar texts, with free forms, which are part of frameworks such as landscape, displacement, movement, and develop reflections around philosophical subjects linked to creation, nature, love, death...

  • The Échos Collection, which focuses on more concise but equally impactful voices, which resonate in rather intimate spaces, to highlight and dig into the language of subjects such as interiority, confinement, singularity, with a bias towards orality.

  • The Écumes Collection, which gives rise to hybrid books, resulting from the encounter of a text and a visual or audio work (paintings, drawings, soundtracks, collages, photographs, etc.), produced by a artist or by a collective.

Another collection will soon see the light of day, the Extras Collection, which will give rise to books with slightly different forms and contents, which do not fall into the first 3, and where each book will be designed as a unique object, with its own format.

Excerpt from Fugues , by Marie Lo Pinto:

The anagram of my first name is a

verb and a poem.


Sometimes I'm like Simone:

I renounce all objects of belief

in order to support my desire to believe.


I have nothing to say about what I cannot

talk, but I like to say something




CG : For the future, are you open to spontaneous submissions or do you prefer to solicit authors yourself?

MCD : I admit that I have received so many manuscripts in recent months that I had no other choice but to temporarily close the door to spontaneous submissions. It was starting to become complicated to deal with all these proposals without it encroaching on the rest. I will therefore take care of those already received and reserve time to work on the books that I am preparing and those already published that I wish to support as far as possible. I will see later, when I have caught up, whether I reopen the floodgates or not. I suspect that this choice is difficult to understand for people who are looking to get published, but the time spent reading manuscripts is not the least and you have to give yourself priorities when you want to move forward without losing money. time and money for those who take the step of printing their texts and sending them to us by post.

CG : As a young publishing house, what difficulties do you encounter?

MCD : The main difficulties are the distribution and sale of books, so the whole commercial aspect which, for me, is the place where I feel least comfortable. Because if we want to last over time, financially as well as psychologically, we must hold on to have sufficient turnover in terms of cash flow firstly, but also to make our place in the world of publishing, especially in poetry where the ground is a little undermined. Firstly, on the side of booksellers, who are often cautious given the low sales that this brings them - which is easily understandable -, but also on the side of already established publishing houses, some of which have a monopoly in the matter. , either because they focus on the great classics or because they publish new authors who are doing well, or because they produce in sufficient quantity to be talked about regularly. And then these houses often have contracts with broadcasters and communications agents who are responsible for making them known to booksellers and the media, which is impossible when you are starting out and even afterwards, if you are only targeting a few titles. per year.

CG : What are your means of making your publications visible? How were the first publications received by the press?

MCD : What I'm trying to put in place for the moment is to approach bookstores as soon as I have the opportunity, to increase my presence at trade fairs and festivals, and above all to develop the events by organizing readings, performances and meetings, which seem to me to be the best way to take poetry beyond the book which remains a support for solitary and above all silent activity, which does not allow one to physically feel what can provoke the sound of a voice, the presence of a body, especially when it is that of the person who wrote the text. And for me, staging poetry, in all simplicity but in real awareness, with accuracy and affirmation, is a way of giving it body, of making it vibrate, of sharing it, of delivering the keys – at least some – , in order to allow readers to glimpse what, frozen in pages, can sometimes seem too rigid to them.

Excerpt from This Little and Everything Capsizes , by Samuel Buckman:

tongue / exhale a little / tongue / with

calm and voluptuousness / skimp on nothing

that can irritate your surface / on the

smallest thing that can do

turn everything upside down / let nothing pass /

the more she turns / her tongue / the more she

runs well / even if it is empty /

drum beating / she spins /

to lose her mind / she's getting fatter /

gets bogged down / gets stuck / gets dizzy / it's

Sunday evening paradise / not the

bother to get carried away / language / you have

beautiful bathe in the light / lulled

by the sun / rising setting / you

hear nothing / you live for nothing / you

don't see anything / now / you count them

bricks / the bricks that wall you in / to

small fire / bricks not visible /

invisible wall / you don't even have one

little nothing to hold on to / this little

something to grow / language /

To answer your question about the reception of my first publications by the press, I must say that this is another of the difficulties that we must face. It is obvious that when arriving on the market, unless you have a big stroke of luck by quickly releasing a book that wins an award or is a dazzling success, it takes time to make your books known and build the reputation of his home. With each new publication, you have to “water your network” by sending copies to reviewers of magazines and dedicated sites and out of the lot, you sometimes obtain articles which may have a certain resonance in the field but this is never won. And even if it gives a little visibility, it doesn't necessarily translate into sales. According to the books there have been reviews on Sitaudis, Poezibao, chez vous sur Terre à Ciel, on Décharge, Traction-Brabant, Prologue (the ALCA journal), Libr-critique, Poésie/Première… and I am very grateful to all the people who took the trouble to write these columns because I know that this type of exercise represents a lot of time and involvement.

Now, I am aware that everything is a question of time in this work and that if it is to work, it will be done in the long term, with patience, perseverance and above all optimism, because it is necessary on a daily basis not to be discouraged in the face of all the walls we come up against, whether with regard to refusals of subsidies, sendings to the press which do not succeed, or even booksellers whom we have called three times and to whom we have sent two emails to see the exchange conclude with a “Thank you but we are not interested”. At the same time, being turned away is also one of the things that we must learn to face and above all, not dwell on failures to put our energy where it is really worth it, with those who are ready to follow us in one way or another.

Excerpt from Poésie-Paléo , by Maxime Morel:

When the eye looks

what he sees the look

it's not the ocean

the eye does not see the lighthouse either

between the sky and the ocean


In the gap which is located inside this


the look sees reconstituted again

the gaze reworks its living memory

the look sees this other look

the look touches the skin

the look touches by the hair

the look touches the hands

by hand positions

with thousand-fingered hands

CG : And before saying goodbye, and because our readers are curious, what are your upcoming projects?

MCD : At the Spring of Poets, the release of Julie Nakache's book which I was talking to you about earlier, Le Sang des Filles is planned, which will be the second title in the Écumes collection (the one which connects one text with another form of artistic expression). Here, Julie's poems will meet visual works combining paintings, drawings and video captures by the Argentinian artist Diego Arrascaeta. Still in the same collection, another book entitled All these things that make the night crack , by Cécile A. Holdban, will appear in June, during the Saint-Sulpice Poetry Market. For the rest, as I speak to you my third publication project has just fallen through and I am still ultimately hesitant to publish a third title this year so I prefer not to move forward with it. moment. In any case, thank you for welcoming me and bravo for everything you do in favor of poetry and those who persist in making it exist.

Excerpt from All Those Things That Make the Night Crack , by Cécile A. Holdban:

Since a long time
the poem
looking for me

Maybe today
is not yet
my season

Blackberries, mint, oregano
if everything could be like this
guess with your eyes closed

Article published on Terre à ciel on February 14, 2023: