Now Comes the Lightning flash of celebrity

Poet Sarah Bernstein explores the life and times of Fréhel (née Marguerite Boulc'h), a Parisian singer born into poverty, as she grapples with depression and addiction.

Now Comes the LightningIf eroticism is an antidote to life, poet Sarah Bernstein explores the pheromones of Fréhel (Marguerite Boulc’h), a Parisian singer born into poverty, as she grapples with depression and addiction. Now Comes the Lightning chronicles her career, which spanned both World Wars and the arrival of cinema, and questions celebrity and performance.

With elements of sensuality, tragedy and the erotic, Bernstein’s poetics sing from the page. Whether Fréhel falls asleep to “the hiss of champagne,” or “imagines being free to go somewhere herself,” it is within self-reflection, and even self-sabotage, readers become aware of the undercurrents swirling around her.

Depicted through a repertoire of songs, the poet exposes the essence of the singer’s struggle, how performance is a state of contrasts, a question of existence. Bernstein writes: “She needs the stage, to be looked at, but they look at each part and do not see the whole.”

Now Comes the Lightning
by Sarah Bernstein
$20, paperback, 90 pp.
Pedlar Press, 2015

Written By

Shannon Webb-Campbell is a mixed Indigenous (Mi’kmaq) settler poet, writer and critic. Her forthcoming book, Who Took My Sister? (Book Thug, 2018) explores Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, decolonial poetics, trauma and the land, and will be transformed into a touring classical music performance for violin and piano. Still No Word (Breakwater, 2015) was the recipient of Egale Canada’s Out In Print Award. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from University of British Columbia, a BA from Dalhousie University, and studies English Literature at Memorial University. Shannon is a member of Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation and currently lives in Montreal.

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