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Government of New Brunswick

Sébastien Bérubé

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Sébastien Bérubé (Photo: Full House Media)

Sébastien Bérubé is a multidisciplinary artist from northwestern New Brunswick. His first three collections and two albums take a frank, sharp and sensitive look at his region. An outspoken denunciation of current social and political injustices, he is one of the leading representatives of the new generation of poets in Acadie.

After working in schools as a cultural and community development officer for the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation and being responsible for Éditions Perce-Neige's Voix émergentes program, he is currently devoting himself to the development of Aboriginal, Francophone and Acadian literature in the Maritimes as an artist, mentor and master's student in literary studies.

With his latest publication, Rivières-aux-Cartouches: histoires à se coucher de bonne heure, he makes a sensational entry into the world of prose, once again confirming his moving and corrosive verve.

Awards and distinctions for publications:

Sous la boucane du moulin (2015)

- ÉFA Award for Excellence in Poetry

- Finalist Prix Antonine-Maillet-Acadie Vie

Là où les chemins de terre finissent (2017)

- Prix Antonine-Maillet Acadie Vie 2018

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Rivières-aux-Cartouches : histoires à se coucher de bonne heure (2023)
Rivières-aux-Cartouches : histoires à se coucher de bonne heure (2023)

- Winner of the Combat national des livres de Radio-Canada 2023

- Université de Moncton Rector's Award 2024

- Finalist for the Prix Adrienne-Choquette 2024 (awarded March 22)

- Finalist for the Prix Champlain 2024 (awarded in April 2024)

- Finalist in the Éloizes 2024 (artist of the year in literature category - awarded in May 2024)

What led you to become an artist?

I don't really know. I just know that I've always felt that it's by creating that I can really have an impact on what's around me. And that it was a nicer way than talking with your fists. It's more practical than just spanking. It also lets me juggle between rebellion and raw love. Creation seems to me a world so much more nuanced than the real world. I need that. I love extremes, but I hate polarization.

How did your training and experience help you to create and innovate in your artistic practice?

Again, I don't know. You'll probably have to ask me in a few years. Most of all, I have the impression that my creation serves as a bridge between things that wouldn't otherwise come together. Maybe that's all innovation really is.

What stimulates you most about your practice?

Feeling like you're doing the right thing...and screwing up. And do it again. Again, and again. That's the fun of it.

How has living and working in New Brunswick helped and/or inspired you on your journey?

I decided to work and create in the regions because I didn't want to leave the people, things and places that allow me to breathe more easily. Maybe that's why the territory is such a big part of what I do.

Là où les chemins de terre finissent (2017)

What motivates your creativity?

It's cliché, but everything and nothing. Especially the people. There's something fascinating about meeting people who are terribly honest, uncompromising, and not out to please. That's what drives me and makes me want to capture their humanity on paper. To write it down.

How does your creative process unfold as you create an artwork?

I sit and write. Or draw. Sometimes I strum my guitar. That's pretty much where it's at.

What is your long-term vision and what do you hope to achieve?

I'm a professional artist. In the long term, the goal is to be professional enough not to have to do anything else to put food on the table. The rest is more. My hope? That one of my children becomes a doctor. Then I'll be able to say that literature paid for their medicine. That would be a nice fuck you to those who continue to underestimate the societal role of the arts. :)

Why do you think it's important to make art and pursue an artistic career?

Because it's fun. It keeps you alive. And because I'm only good at it.

What have you learned about yourself and the artistic community through your work?

That we need more politicized artists and fewer artists in politics haha

What do you think is the impact of artists' work on communities?

Arts and culture are at the heart of community development. It's what keeps them alive, differentiates them and enriches them. When we deprive ourselves of the arts and artists, we deprive ourselves of a breath of continual renewal. And when you lose that breath, it hurts... and, little by little, we die. I don't want to die right now.

Describe what you are most proud of in your career.

Not becoming a lawyer (sorry, maman).

What advice would you give to emerging artists?

Go! Either way, you're going to end up disappointing someone in your life. It might as well not be you. The road won't be any easier, but at least you'll have the luxury of having chosen it willingly.

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