Ouellette published poetry with Éditions de l'hexagone, notably Ces anges de sang (1955), Le Soleil sous la mort (1965), Dans le sombre (1967), Ici, ailleurs, la lumière (1977), which were collected with others in Poésie (1972), and En la nuit la mer (1981). His recent collections of poetry and essays are among his best: these are les Heures (1987), the last hours of a son with his father, Ouvertures (1988), Commencements (1992). Though metaphysical or mystical, his poetry is profoundly physical, taut, erotic, filled with flashes of insight. His quest for the absolute resembles that of the German Romantics - see Depuis Novalis: errance et gloses (1973) - while his rigorous demands are like those of Pierre-Jean Jouve.
Also a critic and theorizer of his preferred genres, Ouellette is an excellent essayist. Shortly after the declaration of the WAR MEASURES ACT in 1970 during the OCTOBER CRISIS, he refused the GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD for Les Actes retrouvés, his book on poetry and poetics, power, violence and tolerance. Écrire en notre temps (1979) continues the same aesthetic and ethical themes. A friend of a number of painters including Chagall, and of composer Edgard Varèse, whose biography he wrote (1966; Eng tr 1968), Ouellette is interested in the art that underlies all art. His Journal dénoué (prize of journal Études françaises, 1974) is an important intellectual biography. Three novels, Tu regardais intensément Geneviève (1978), La Mort vive (1980) and Lucie ou Un midi en novembre (1985) were controversial.
Although Ouellette has won three Governor General's Literary Awards, he has accepted two, one in 1985 for his novel Lucie ou Un Midi en novembre and one in 1987 for his collection Les Heures. He has won the Prix Athanase-David (1987); the Ville de Laval Medal (1992); the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste's Prix Duvernay (1994); the Prix Gilles-Corbeil (2002); and the Prix Alain-Grandbois de L'Académie des letters du Québec (2006). In 2005 he was named Chevalier of the NATIONAL ORDER OF QUEBEC.
Author LAURENT MAILHOT
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...