Translated from the French by Brian Cole.
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About Denis Emorine
is the author of
short stories, essays, poetry, and plays. He was born in 1956 in
Paris and studied literature at the Sorbonne (University of
Paris). He has an affective relationship to English because his
mother was an English teacher. His father was of Russian
His works are translated into several languages. His theatrical
output has been staged in France, Canada ( Quebec) and Russia.
Many of his books (stories, drama, poetry) have been published
in the USA.
Writing, for Emorine, is a way of harnessing time in its
incessant flight. Themes that re-occur throughout his writing
include the Doppelgänger, lost or shattered identity, and
mythical Venice (a place that truly fascinates him). He also has
a great interest for Eastern Europe. Denis Emorine collaborates
with various other reviews and literary websites in the U.S.,
Europe and Japan both in French and in English..
In 2004, he won first prize for his poetry at the Féile
Filiochta International competition.
His poetry has been published in Pphoo (India), Blue Beat
Jacket (Japan), Magnapoets (Canada), Snow Monkey,
Cokefishing, Be Which Magazine, Poesia and Journal of
His texts also appear on numerous e-zines such as: Anemone
Sidecar, Cipher Journal, Mad Hatters' Review, Milk, The Salt
River Review, Istanbul Literary Review, Like Birds Lit,
Wilderness House Literary Review, Sketchbook, Literary World.
Emorine’s webpage is
ISABELLE: The owner of the café, 35 years-old
FRANÇOIS: The customer, 40 years-old.
OTHER potential customers (optional)
café is about to close. One customer, François refuses to leave.
The owner, Isabelle, is worried. What does this individual want
from her? How can she make him leave? The conversation starts...
The Setting: In a little provincial village, a café that might
be called “Welcome Corner,” or something similar.
Preface by Michael T. Steffen*
is a play in one act that examines the delicate dilemma of a
prospective second love, a fresh-life romance in the making
between a café owner (Isabelle) who is a widow of a seemingly
faded grief and a client (Francois) who is agonizingly enduring
a recent split with his sweetheart (Helen). As the drama
unfolds, many contradictions and reversals (typical of
play-write Denis Emorine’s dramatic chess-playing) are revealed.
Francois, slightly older than Isabelle, proves much more
vulnerable (even infantile in his stubbornness and
unreasonableness) in the encounter due to the open wound of his
new loss. Isabelle, more spiritually mature and with a tougher
exterior (Ionesco might call her by her initial appearance a
pachyderm) from her survival in grief, reveals an unexpected
naivety and readiness to fall for this sudden opportunity of a
relationship. Dominance and defiance exchange places between the
characters. Isabelle is trying to close her café and urges
Francois who is loitering over another glass of milk to leave.
But he bandies excuses with her and lingers on. Not long after
we find Francois on the verge of leaving and now it’s Isabelle
who insists that he stay. These reversals in roles are
reminiscent of other Emorine plays. In On the Platform a
young woman in love awaiting the arrival of her fiancé at a
train station has her pride and confidence tested and overturned
by the disturbing conversation of a more or less undesirable
middle-age stranger. He turns out to have an ominous
announcement for her. In another of Emorine’s dramas,
Passions, the prolonged accusative anger of one man who has
been duped is transformed into fear and regret at the absolute
silence of his companion. The talent of Emorine as a dramatist
lies in his working out of the unpredictable wavering in the
emotional polarities that are disclosed in human relationships:
power/vulnerability, assurance/doubt, anger/remorse, hope and
despair. Focused and minimalist (intimating a deliberate silence
that surrounds our perceptions, propositions and responses to
others), these brief yet concentrated plays project an intense
insularity that can be perceived as the private intentions and
misgivings of any individual’s interior psychology. Our minds
are stages where otherness multiplies into imaginary roles. This
is the quality that is bound to fascinate readers, directors,
actors and audiences to the conscious, artful and deeply human
qualities of Emorine’s dramatic vision. A distinguished
poet—prized by Felie Filiochta (2004) and by the Academie du Var
(2009)—Denis Emorine brings a suggestively insightful vernacular
to his dialogues which are credibly cadenced and spaced for the
ear, offered to readers of English in Brian Cole’s spellbound
translations. It is noteworthy how Cole has preserved the native
spirit of the language of the original in his renditions. In
Closing Time, exchanges advancing and retreating, reaching and
emphatically protesting in this love to be or not to be waltzes
Isabelle and Francois through the movements of the play’s
strategy, evocative at once of fairy tale and Beckett burlesque.
The result is an effortless work sure to leave readers and
audiences wanting more.
*Michael Todd Steffen did his university studies in Literature
and French at Belmont in Nashville, Tennessee. On a Rotary
International Fellowship he received his MA in Renaissance
Studies from Sussex University in Brighton, England, and went on
to live in France, writing, translating and teaching throughout
the 1990s. He has had poetry published in ACM (Another
Chicago Magazine), in Ibbetson Street and in Wilderness House
Literary Review, and was the recipient for first prize in
poetry at the 2007 Somerville News Writers Festival. His first
book Partner, Orchard, Day Moon is to be published in
2011 by Červená Barva Press. He currently lives in Cambridge,