Last I wrote, I was typing away at The Poetry Cafe in London. It’s a small but lovely space. I hadn’t yet gone downstairs, so I hadn’t seen the reading space, enough room for 50-60 people comfortably. Whitewashed walls with perfectly placed sketches from an exhibit, highlighting the work of an artist and a focus on poets.
Niall O’Sullivan hosts the evening. Brilliant wit that invites the audience in to full engagement with the work, which can be difficult when there are 25+ poets on the mic. Last night, there were 32, each reading for 4 minutes or thereabouts. Niall is pretty good about the time, keeping a close eye and sharing that eye with everyone else with his timer visible from the audience. It’s very clear that no one gets more time than any other, and I really appreciated that. It was also very clear that everyone’s work was valued. I scribbled notes throughout the evening. There were quite a few poets that had me so captivated as to forget my pen and many who pushed me to hold on to those especially brilliant lines by writing them quickly down.
I traded a book with Ned Swan, who was reading from his book, One Hundred Red Roses. It was interesting what he was doing in recounting a great love through place, verse, line. I read the whole book on the train back to Chiswick. I’m leaving the book with Jessica and Mark with hopes that it will inspire some of their travels. The text offered so much as far as romance in place.
I also sold a book to a poet, Greg Burn. In addition to buying a book, he gave me some great advice about places to see in Ireland and a bookshop in Galway to visit. He also told me to make the time to visit the Aran Islands, if possible. I was thinking about finding a tour across the Burren, the wild place of Clare. Perhaps there might be an opportunity to spend a night at the Aran Islands, too. We will see. I think It’s something to research while in Paris and book early enough to make it happen. Greg told me a story of arriving on the Islands and meeting a man on a beach who had arrived, just as he had, with just a bag and no plans to stay. While Greg stayed only the night, the man stayed twenty years, making his living selling tackle and bait to fishermen. There’s something beautiful and free about just the idea.
What must it be to be unshackled in the world! Sometimes, I think it’s my student loans that keep me rooted still to the regularity of a steady job. And then, I think of my devotion to change, children, transformation, education … and know it’s not just the paycheck and the paying out of it that keeps me going.
Going back to Poetry Unplugged, one of the many things I loved was that the event was filled with so many new voices as well as a diversity of approaches. There were folks with a more performative style, shorter poems, rhyming work, folks that had only begun to write and share their work. There were elders and students alike. To have such a mix is a real rarity, a treasure. If I were living in London, I would come regularly. I feel like I took in so many stories and inspirations last night. It was good to feel so engaged in the work and the play of writing. I will definitely make time when I return next year to visit again. It seems like I have my Monday and Tuesday night in London already planned for next June.
Today, I’ll head out to Paris. I have a reading with Paris Lit Up tomorrow. Today is a day just to transition. I’m spending the time today writing, learning some French phrases, strategizing.
Tomorrow, the plan is to grab a quick breakfast, go to the Louvre for the morning, lunch, and then do to some of the English-language bookshops to see about selling books: Shakespeare and Company, Berkeley Books of Paris, San Francisco Book Company, maybe I Love My Blender. While I would like to have books for tomorrow’s reading, in the end, I will be happy if I sell all the remaining books.
Friday, I’m going to the Louvre, lunch, Notre Dame, and the Museu d’Orsay. That night there’s an open mic at Cabaret Culture Rapide (starts at 10:30pm). If I still have books, I will definitely go. If not, I may still go just to be immersed in the arts. 103 rue Julien Lacroix 75020 Paris, M° Belleville / Pyrénées, 01 46 36 08 04.
Saturday, there’s a Paris Lit Up feedback workshop for writers of poetry or prose. If I have new work then I’ll head there. They ask for folk to bring copies of the work, which I’m not how I would do while traveling. Maybe if my hotel has the ability to print, I can get some copies of a new poem or two to take. The workshop is held every Saturday afternoon (4-6pm) at Apparemment Café (18 Rue des Coutures St-Gervais 75003). Suggested donation is listed as: 3€
Sunday morning, I’m off again to Ireland.
If I am ever in Paris again, I should check out The Other Writers, which is every Sunday from 6:30-8:30, 37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005, Métro St Michel, Charge for participating 6 euros. Looks like a great space to share work. If I were to stay until a Tuesday, I would do Mondays at Spoken Word at Le Chat, starting at 8:30pm, 1 euro donation. Next time.