Michèle Lalonde | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Michèle Lalonde

Michèle Lalonde, poet, playwright and essayist (born 28 July 1937 in Montreal, Quebec; died 22 July 2021 in Montreal). With a degree in philosophy from the Université de Montréal, Michèle Lalonde is best known for her committed poetry and her political views regarding Quebec and the language issue. Her most famous poem is Speak White.


Michèle Lalonde’s work includes two plays, Ankrania ou Celui qui crie (1957) and Dernier recours de Baptiste à Catherine (1977), as well as a number of collections of poetry: Songe de la fiancée détruite (1958), Geôles (1959), Terre des hommes (1967), Portée disparue (1979), Métaphore pour un nouveau monde (1980). (See Poetry in French.)

However, her best-known work is the poster poem Speak White, first recited in 1970 during the famous Nuit de la poésie in Montreal. Written in an incantatory style, the poem describes the inferior cultural, social and economic conditions under which French Canadians live. (See Francophone Nationalism in Quebec.) It also calls for the solidarity of oppressed peoples against all forms of colonialism and imperialism. The poem was published in 1974.

Michèle Lalonde’s work as an essayist, Défense et illustration de la langue québécoise, was published in 1979. In 1981, she collaborated with Denis Monière to publish Cause communeManifeste pour une internationale des petites cultures.

Awards and Honours

In 1979, the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste awarded her the Ludger-Duvernay Prize (see Ludger Duvernay) for her body of work. In 1984, she became the President of the Fédération internationale des écrivains de langue française. (See also French Language in Canada.)