“We are deeply saddened to learn about Gilles’ death,” says Helge Lunde. "He was a prolific writer and always a vital source of inspiration to all of us around him, writers, administrators and the rest of the ICORN family."
Secretary General of Norwegian PEN, Hege Newth Noori, writes in memory of Gilles:
Farewell to a Romsdals-poet from Benin
It is with great sorrow that we received the news that Gilles Dossou-Gouin, after a long period of illness, passed away on Friday 30 September, only 59 years old.
Gilles came to Molde as the city’s first ICORN writer-in-residence in 2005. He landed on a rainy August day in Årø with his wife Simone and sons Axel and Steve. In his homeland Benin, he was persecuted because he wrote lyrics that the authorities disapproved of. He was imprisoned and beaten for his writings. Gilles managed to escape from Benin. After much toil and good help from Norwegian PEN and its president, Kjell Olav Jensen, he came to Norway and Molde, a city he quickly drew close to his heart. He loved the nature of Romsdalen and wrote a poetry collection about Hustadvika.
During his first six months in Molde, Gilles wrote impressive 1500 page of drama, poetry and short stories – he was filled with joy and energy of writing when he finally got the chance to write freely. Gilles published his first poetry collection in Norway in 2008, Å bestå (Subsist), he published En fremmed I Hustadvika (A stranger in Hustadvika) in 2010, Tunge nøkler in 2013 and a poetry/music project Et annet blikk (A different glance) in 2014.
Gilles gave voice to the voiceless writers who are persecuted around the world. His voice is now silenced forever. Rest in peace.