Monday, June 22, 2009

OK, I'm still exhausted, but determined to get the rest of these photos up while waiting for Ismael to fall asleep. It just seems impossible to present photos in blogger! Anyway, if the captions don't seem to immediately match the photo, well. excuuuuuse me!

At left, from left, Jean-Jacques Poucel, Money (never quite got the correct name), Preston Something-White, Elisabeth Hayes, Michèle Métail, Anne Portugal, Sébastien Smirou and Jose.

At left, below, David Lespiau and Sabine Macher admire our host's collection of boats (never did figure out who owned the dingy dinghy, though). At right, Pascal Poyet and Sabine, I think admiring one of the many spiffy digital cameras that I'm sure will be producing much better photos for a different blog.

Macgregor Card and his library and his coat of arms--not! At right, Macgregor, Jean-Jacques and Anne either watch rehearsal or the actual reading. The staircase belongs to the Eugene O'Neill cottage, where the reading took place.

Sébastien sees Eugene O'Neill's ghost. Below, a carload of poets head out for yet more food (I think we singlehandedly saved the restaurant economy of New London).

Après dinner, Sébastien, Macgregor and Pascal exchange poetry notes. Below on left, samples of Pascal Poyet's imprint, contrat maint. I got four books by David Lespiau--Opération Lindbergh, Oh un lieu d'épuisement, Réduction de la révolution la nuit, and Spirit II--and one by Métail, LA VILLE, DE LA VILLE, which is an extract of her larger piece, TOPONYME: BERLIN, a copy of which she gave me. Alas, Holly Dye is already translating it; otherwise, I'd be all over it as it looks absolutely fantastic. Poyet's entire line of approx. 30 books (that's a wild guess though) fit quite nicely into a small bubble sac and won't be pushing him over any weight limits for the flight home. Ah, the many advantages of chapbooks!

Anne Portugal and the proprieter, or manager, or just really nice guy of the Elks Club branch we ended up at. He took us on a tour of the building, which used to be a brothel. Interesting trap doors. The French were impressed by the sign over the bar that said "No drugs or weapons allowed onto the premises." Just one of those things you don't give a second thought until it's pointed out to you. I prefer the "No ID/No Party" sign visible over Anne's head. Anyway, now I've got the photos up, and am heading to bed, but will at some point blog more about specifics of the event, and about my translation plotting for Métail's work, now that she's given me so many books and so much more information about herself and her art.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Firsts at the FACE festival

I'm back from the POEM/FACE festival, an intense and unsettling experience that, like my suitcase, I am still unpacking. It was a festival of firsts: It was the first time many of the French poets had met each other, and the first time any of them had met their translators. It was also the first time for many of them to the United States (luckily, they were able to change their train tickets so as to permit a stopover in NYC, so that their only experience of the U.S. would not be New London (unexpectedly interesting as it was)), or for others, their last visit was so long ago, or so short a visit, as to be null.

It was the first time in a while I've spoken so much French for so many days, but not the first time I've been embarassed by how limited my speaking ability is. And oy, how rusty like an ancient iron door.

It was the first time that Michèle Métail and I met, and read together.

It was the first time I heard Michele Metail read, and don't think I'm hyperbolic when I say it's an incredible experience. The second night of the reading, as she read from the scroll of "The Route of Five Feet," letting it drop to the floor, she began whispering the verses until her lips were moving with no sound at all. I don't think I've ever felt an audience lean more raptly forward in their seats.

It was also the first time I ate dinner in a house that contained a painting by J.M.W. Turner:

The first time I've been to a house with ocean on three sides and with three poets to admire it: from left, Anne Portugal, Jean-Jacques Poucel and Michèle Métail.

The first time, I believe, that David Lespiau, Sébastien Smirou and Anne Portugal have sat together on a couch in a house containing a Turner painting.

The first time Sabine Macher and Jean-Jacques Poucel have 1) done yoga together and 2) danced the "Mischmaschfishdrum" together.

I've got lots more photos and lots more stories to tell, but right now I'm exhausted from going to New London nightclubs last night with the indefatigable Anne Portugal, a long drive today back to NYC, an emotional reunion with Ismael and Rich (and today is simultaneously our wedding anniversary, father's day, and the solstice), and I'm finding it insanely irritating to post photos to Blogger (why does it post all photos automatically to the top?). So, alors, à demain. (But if you're hungry for details now, please visit Smirou's blog).

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Poets on (an) exchange mission

The festival being touted as 12 poets, 7 translators, 4 events, 2 countries, 1 publication.

Basically, this coming Friday and Saturday is the convening of several French poets and some American poet-translators at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center (in England that would be "Theatre Centre") in New London, CT. For some of the poets, or maybe just Michèle Métail, it will be their very first visit to U.S. shores.
A week or so later, several American poets will be heading to Cassis for the French leg of the festival. I think all of them have been to France before. But it's funny that both sides of the festival take place in somewhat off-center locales. The French poets coming "here" are due to travel pretty much directly from the airport to New London, and then back, so their main experience of the U.S. will be New London. I stopped in New London a few weeks back, just out of curiosity, and am now quite interested to see what the French poets will make of this somewhat quintessential, industrial, seaside, rather isolated New England town/small city. Not to mention the fried clam bellies and lobster rolls. An interesting "exchange" indeed.
Anyway, I'm very much looking forward to meeting Michèle Métail for the first time, and of course, as soon as I let my subscription to the Centre International de Poésie Marseille's journal lapse, then they go ahead and do a special issue on her. Graah. I'm also looking forward to a little bit of alone time in a hotel room, overlooking the radioactive Groton submarine works across the harbor, perhaps.

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