François Pointeau, artwork by Brian Wootan
Songs of the Rollin’ Chateau
Printed on demand for Kickstarter pledge
Softcover, 94 pgs., price depends upon package ordered
July 23-September 21, 2019
In 2015, François Pointeau loaded up his canine companion, got in his vehicle, and took an extended road trip through California and the Southwest. In his new poetry collection, Songs of the Rollin Chateau, Pointeau shares impressions and stains of that trip.
Our nation owns a unique tradition of literary wandering. Being no stranger to the road myself, I found this collection engaging. After decades of living out of highway-exit motels (during the best of times) and inner-city soup kitchens (in the worst), it was refreshing to see the morning horizon through the eyes of a less worn, less faded traveler of the word.
At ninety-four pages and illustrated with the bold work of Brian Wootan, Songs of the Rollin Chateau is a quick journey … the first time you read it—but you’ll want to revisit these poems and appreciate the ways they dovetail with and inform each other. I recommend reading these poems in the order presented by Pointeau, as the book presents them as a linear discovery of both personal and universal insights.
Pointeau lets readers know, from the beginning, that this sojourn will be one presented through rich imagery. The first time we encounter the message of “Hit the road, son,” we know that subtlety and nuance have been left at home:
“It’s time to take that road
that never, never, ending winding black ribbon …”
The rich images served up by pieces such as “Songs of the journey” and “America” remind us all that “… this is a big country …” The stark reality and confrontation visited in poems such as “Pitchforks,” “Revolution,” and “Doubt” are offset with the simple, real, sometimes self-effacing, humor of the recurrent “Songs of paranoia” and the shielded eroticism of “Shelter atop a mountain.”
Along the way, mundane events like sharing a motel bed with your dog and taking showers at truck stops are told as more; each poem is magnified by the next until, keeping the focus always ahead, rearview mirrors serve no use, all that matters is what comes next, up ahead, with the next sunrise or cup of roadside coffee.
The important thing is to keep driving.
François Pointeau reminds us in “For now” that life is a continuum, and that the road ahead, always ahead, is a journey, not a destination. Pointeau joins in the tribe of travel and allows us all a hitchhiker’s hope, a rubber-tramp’s perspective, and a gasoline powered rediscovery of ourselves.
This is not Neal Cassady, frantically chasing the next set of kicks, nor is it an idealized celebration of freedom’s excesses, milked from a red ragtop through the Mojave. Songs of the Rollin Chateau is one man’s quest to connect with the permanence of meaning and geographic solidity, within a constantly changing social landscape.
The North American highway has always been as good a place as any to discover yourself, and if I ever meet up with François, out there “on the road,” I hope we have the time to compare notes.
François Pointeau was born in Rennes, France, and moved to the United States with his family as a child. He is a poet and writer of short stories. Pointeau’s first poetry collection, Beer Songs For the Lonely (New Belleville Press), was published in 2014; Good Feeling: Seven Short Stories (New Belleville Press) was published in 2015. He also produces the podcast “Radar Talk Intimate.” Pointeau lives in Houston. You can visit him online here.
Brian Wootan works as a painter, designer, and illustrator out of Austin, Texas. An award-winning designer, Wootan has more than twenty-five years of professional experience and has worked with clients from around the world. He has produced book layouts and illustrations and has designed book covers, logos, and posters for a diverse range of clients. When not working for others, he spends his time in the studio painting. Visit him online here.