Claude Biao, an extraordinary writer

I have interviewed Claude Biao because he is one of those who fight to remove the 3 desperate letters of that district “Latrine”, former district “Latin” and Mensa. Claude Biao, I knew him on a pulse. And I have loved him without injunction ever since. Then I knew him a second time through Bamidélé, one of the best novels I have ever read. He is rather the curious, the questioner, but for today I erect and take away his attributes, to show him to you, him who one day gave the desire to shake the world with the alphabet. A small question in a small corner of a small restaurant: why do write? And with no hesitation he answers: for me it’s an act of salubrity, I write from my discomforts. I can’t believe it, I know I should not have asked any more questions, but I am stubborn. 

I have interviewed Claude Biao because he is one of those who fight to remove the 3 desperate letters of that district “Latrine”, former district “Latin” and Mensa, that our dear Benin is becoming. I have asked Claude, How do you want me to show you? Undecided? Determined? Or following the wind?

All three! So here he is, all splendid, him who carries abroad the name of our country, who can wiggle your heart with this famous : “you still hope she will return, uh?”. He wanted to be cigarettes seller on the black market, he became a mud-man/dustman, emotion seller on a crowded market, crowded of people, crowded of hope. Thank you Claude for these nice muds, they dress us of humanity.


What were your dreams?

Cigarettes seller on the black market. 

So Claude, apart form being born again from words, what the fuck on earth are you doing?

I have a degree in Diplomacy and International Relations from ENAM Benin, and i’m editor in the International News Desk at Diaspora FM and Eden TV (where I also host/run a literature broadcast “Open book” for radio and “Free  heights” for TV)

Rumor hat it your name was heard twice internationally?

My novels “Bamibélé” and “Desert do not forget” (Le désert n’oublie pas), were among the recipients of the Young Writer Award in 2013 an 2015. In 2014, “a world with a place for every smile” (Un monde où il a une place pour chaque sourire)  (drawing-tale) won the first prize of the “Bite Francophonia” [Croquons la francophonie] context, and “The crowd of the untitled” [La foule des Sans-titres] (poetry) received the Stéphane Hessel Prize for Young French Writing in poetry category.

How do you come to say these so simple things in an extraordinary way?

I don’t know! I think I stay honest with myself …  including with my discomforts. I have always written things as pretests to silence them, that’s why writing is a kind of compromise (a balance game) for me, between the need to unveil these discomforts as questions for the reader, and the need to keep them in my privacy. What I would like, is to stay awake to the world, to people, and to myself

If you were to give power to your letters, what would it be?

There are good as they are. Let’s leave them in their place. I never pretended to change the world (for a start, I would like to understand it as it is, every day). It’s dangerous to write (to handle “the letters” as you say). It’s like children who would play with matches. Sartre (that I live to quote) saidthat words are loaded guns. Then the one who need power is not what I write, it’s rather me, to handle and master the already extraordinary power.

You are polygamous, oops, prolix as a feather …

In literature

Visa for prison (theater, in the Palmarès of the golden feathers Awards), Future-dead (theater 2010), The song of the initiate (poems, 2011), Miracles will wait tomorrow (Theater, 2012), Bamidélé (novel, Palmarès of the young writer price 2013),  Mandela, before returning to fight (novel, in an anthology titled : Mandela, the great meeting, 2014), The desert do not forget (novel, palmarès of the young writer price 2015), Adéyèmi or The crown suits them so well (theater, selected and performed at the international festival of high schools and colleges theater, edition 2014, and which should be published this year) … and those still undercover.

In my field of study

The right of establishment for liberal professionals from the ECOWAS space in Benin (my bachelor thesis, reviewed, corrected and published by The Peace Research Institute of Prof John G. DOSSOU, and presently being translated in English, 2013), … and those still undercover.

A spoil please …

A full of uncompleted works on which i’m getting back to (or I promise myself to get back to if I have the courage) at my own pace. Talking about them would give me pressure, and i’m not very comfortable with that.

In addition, you play the guitar like an angel! Do you think of a career in music?

It sounds like a compliment! Thank you! I had the choice at a time, to give up everything (or almost) to become a musician. At that time, I had not chosen music. I do not regret it, but i leave it to life (or myself) to surprise me in changing my mind or not.

I always let myself driven in my choices, by what looked like me (which seems to me a more appropriate expression for what others would call their passion), and that’s what I want to keep doing.

Which of your stories do you prefer?

I don’t know, I like each of them. Particularly, I respect the questions that each of them had wanted to ask me at the moment I wrote them (and which could have changed today for me, or simply have no more meaning). I could say today that I very liked the hard work it caused me to write “The desert do not forget”. But It is only because it’s the latest, as soon as there will be another, maybe I would say the same thing about it.

What do you think you can do for Benin and what would you like It to do for you as as writer and citizen?

It’s Benin which have to know(or find) what I could bring to It as writer. As a citizen, I love an respect my country. I wish I can continue to do my civil duties (as far as they are consistent with my own convictions, and as far as nobody give me hard times to do so). Coming to what I want Benin to provide me as a citizen, it’s my civil rights. And as a writer, just energy to continue to start my computer; The rest, I will be able to rip it off It or seek it somewhere else.

Is there an advice you would like to give to me, you admirer? And also to others?

To not admire me too much, I could deceive her! Well I don’t intend to, but all those set of possibilities that a human life is, don’t they make such a feeling rather random and uncertain? (Actually i’m trying to hide a discomfort, i’m not a good advisor). On the other hand what I say to myself (who knows, maybe it could help), what I wish above all, is to always have the modesty to stay a human being until the end of my life (beyond that we will see if nature give me another status)

Brain extraction? It’s for my collection

“You meet others, You do not constitute them” Click To Tweet

A marking experience?

Each day is an experience who marks me. Click To Tweet

You have a blog : Bastard thoughts. Why bastard, your thoughts?

The idea of bastard thoughts is (I say it in the launching post) to make it a kind of landing point for my questionings, mes thoughts (moods!)  that by convenience or cowardliness I didn’t dare to endorse in public; or others’ thoughts that I didn’t comment although they caused days of debate in my head! That’s where the qualifier “bastard” attached to my thoughts come from. But it remains very consistent with my approach in general (as a author, in my field of study, or in my work) : always ask the right questions.

 

 

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