ON POETRY, WRITING AND RANDOM CULTURAL MATTERS

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Musee Rodin

Excellent collection of all your favourites: large castings, marquettes, marbles all jumbled around inside and in the grounds of a beautiful 18th century house at the back of Les Invalides. A cosy and intimate setting for works I've only ever seen in portentous places like the Cantor in Northern California, or at special exhibitions at the Royal Academy. Lovely garden too.





Very enjoyable and not expensive to visit - 10 Euros for two adults for everything including the current exhibition of 300 drawings (some racy enough to make Tracey Emin look tame), kids free, EU students under 25 free - so bit of a bargain for a family from one of France's non-state funded museums. Merci beaucoup.

http://www.musee-rodin.fr/

River of Stones - January 2012

Time to get excited again about paying attention to just one thing every day - join the river here http://www.writingourwayhome.com/p/river-jan-12.html.

My small stones will be posted on the Work - Gems page of this blog.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Saying Goodbye to George Whitman


Family, friends and the writers of Paris turned out today to say goodbye to George Whitman, founder of the world famous Shakespeare and Company, who died last week at the grand age of 98. 


He was buried at Pere Lachaise this afternoon following a beautiful service with eulogies from Jeanette Winterson and his daughter Sylvia and readings of Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas, So Long by Walt Whitman, George Himself by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and George's open letter The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart.


Without George's unfailing generosity there would be no Other Writers group for me to go to and I would never have met all my Parisian friends.


My happy life here is largely thanks to him.

Rock Hair - Paris

Certainly the grooviest hairdresser in Paris. Great cut, friendly staff, good music. Not cheap, but worth it for the experience. There are three branches: 7, Boulevard Beaumarchais, just next to Bastille metro and my local, plus at 68 Quai Jemmapes and 53 Rue Monge. One tip - they don't take cards, only cash or cheques and rather trustingly let me leave the salon to go to the cash point.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Gumbo Press

I have another new poem, Espresso or the best cup of coffee in the world, in the latest edition of Gumbo. You can read it here http://gumbopress.co.uk/wordgumbo/wordgumbo4.pdf

Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris

or Musee de l'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, has a wonderful representative collection of the last hundred or so years of mainly French art, especially good on Cubism, such as this Braque: 



It mounts special exhibitions (Georg Baserlitz at present), but the permanent collection is free to view. It is housed in the Palais de Tokyo which was built of the 1937 International Exhibition, a favourite haunt of skateboards of all ages; so if you hate art you can grab a coffee and watch the free entertainment  - middle-aged men practising tricks and teenagers laughing at them. 

An excellent way to spend a few hours on a Sunday and there was hardly anyone there today, unlike the super-crowded Pompidiou. A few more images to give you a feel for what's there:





Saturday, 17 December 2011

Graffiti Project - latest

You have got to be joking  - St Paul, Paris.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Poetry News

My poem, The Card Box, is in this quarter's Poetry News, which has just been published.

http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Graffiti Project - latest

Konny Steding - wonderful woman - rue de Renard, just down the street from the Pompidiou Centre







Roundyhouse

I have a new poem, Cairo 2011, in the latest edition of this magazine from South Wales. For information on how to buy a copy, go here http://www.benybont.co.uk/another/roundy.htm#rx

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Graffiti Project - latest


Gregos, probably my favourite artist so far in Paris - a bit scary really and more famous for his faces such as


and


and


of which there are apparently hundreds around the city. For more go here http://www.gregosart.com/STREETART/Eng/HOME-PAGE.html

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Graffiti Project - latest

I think these are by Invader (http://www.space-invaders.com/artworks.html), and/or his imitators, but you can never be sure as I haven't bought his Paris book.




Thursday, 1 December 2011

Graffiti Project - latest


More Fred Le Chevalier - I told you he was everywhere





Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Graffiti Project - latest

This time it's the turn of the ubiquitous Fred the Chevalier - here are a few of my favourites mainly from the Marias, but also Montmartre and Les Halles





Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Musee Carnavalet, Paris

Also known as the Museum of the History of Paris is in the 4th, on rue de Sevigne, right in the heart of the Marais. Plenty of room recreations, paintings, revolutionary memorabilia, stones from the Bastille, Proust's bedroom and a lovely parterre. My favourite on this visit was the Fouquet Bijouterie designed by Mucha - Art Nouveau at its highest. most sinuous and most gorgeous. Free entry means I will be back time and again as it's literally five minutes from my apartment. Lovely.



http://carnavalet.paris.fr/

Friday, 25 November 2011

Going to the Doctor in Paris

is breathtakingly simple. I even managed to find a doctor within staggering distance of my apartment and get an appointment on the day I phoned. Of course, the huge downside for a foreigner is that you pay for the consultation and then have to pay the real price for the drugs prescribed. There is some mechanism for making a refund claim, which I have yet to discover, but note to self: be ill in Blighty where it's free. God bless the NHS. Claire Rayner's dying words are ringing in my ears this week (something like 'Tell David Cameron if he messes with my beloved NHS, I'll come back and haunt him').

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Twilight Breaking Dawn Part One

So, my excuse is I have teenage daughters, but let's be honest, it's only an excuse.  Whilst I am still in team Edward, I feel a switch to team Jacob coming on now. How did that happen?

All the much longed for things happen in this one, but there was rather too much time spent on the sickly (as it turns out) honeymoon. The best thing about this series is still the landscape of the North West - I love those forests. I want that house in the woods.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Edvard Munch, Pompidiou Centre, Paris

If this was on in London, you would either have to book tickets in advance, or queue round the block to get in. Luckily a sunny Sunday lunchtime when everyone else was eating meant that, after we had listened to some karioke busking (Wonderwall sung by a Dutch guy, I kid you not), we walked straight in. Well almost, but we honestly only had to hang around for half an hour. Pretty good going for a block buster art exhibition.

My knowledge of Munch is greatly enhanced, even if I found his work rather distrubing (Murder on the road, The fight, The murderess, The sick child etc.). My favourite painting was a self-portrait recovering from Spanish flu - face like a combination of a Francis Bacon smudge and The Scream. The latter, of course, is not there. No doubt it's kept under lock and key now, safely in Norway. Get there before 9 January if you want an art challenge. Just the thing for us after the Catacombs that morning.

English Language Bookshops in Paris - 3

Galignani's wears its credentials in stone as the first English language bookshop to be established on the continent. Great location on the rue de Rivoli opposite the Tulieries. Less great are the prices of its new stock, which are a significant mark up on the UK RRP. The poetry selection was disappointing: a large number of classics padded out with popular anthologies made up over half the shelves. Pity.



http://galignani.com/

Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

Apologies this is a repost as the blog received a spam comment that I have only just worked out how to remove.  Anyway, the festival was fantastic. Great to meet up with all my friends and listen to some truly worldclass stuff. Robert Hass and Kay Ryan were the big international names this year.

http://www.poetrytrust.org/

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

English Language Bookshops in Paris - 2

The San Francisco Book Company is small, but perfectly formed. It has a good selection of mainly second hand books  that are not as expensive as I expected (i.e. comparable with the same in the UK). There are several shelves of poetry that you have to bend over to browse, but luckily there is a stool provided for those with bad backs. Jim Carroll is a friendly and informative book seller. Go there (in the 6th - 17, Rue Monsieur Le Prince), buy books.

http://www.sanfranciscobooksparis.com/shop/sfbparis/index.html

Graffiti Project - latest

Graffiti and the shop front - is a whole new sub-genre. Here are some examples from Le Marais and Montmartre.




Spoken Word, Paris

Not only are there bookshops - there is an open mic - hurrray for that - run by David Barnes, who also leads the Saturday writers' workshop at Shakespeare and Company. It's every Monday night from 8 ish - remember we are on Paris time now - till late. Check the website for the location as it keeps changing at present.

Last night was a Hallowe'en fest of spooky stuff - The Raven, a retelling of Red Riding Hood - as well as other poems, stories and songs in English and Italian. My favourite performance was Yeats read from under a sheet. Excellent and free.

http://spokenwordparis.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

English Language Bookshops in Paris - 1

As my French is, well, fairly rudimentary and my need for the spoken word is huge, it is a great surprise to find that Paris has so many English language bookshops. I suppose the most famous of these is Shakespeare and Company on the Left Bank (just opposite Notre Dame). http://shakespeareandcompany.com/



Not only is it packed floor to ceiling with an excellent stock of new and some quality second hand books, at not too bad a mark up on UK prices, but it also holds author readings almost every Monday and a writers' workshop on Saturdays in the late afternoon/early evening.

In the last few days I have heard Edward St Aubyn reading from his latest novel - the finale to a five book series (At Last) that I was not familiar with, and attended the writer's workshop where we are a rather strange tourist attraction. I have never been part of a group where work-shopping is a random spectator sport for book browsers before! I imagine I will get used to it.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Graffiti Project - latest



Official project work next to the Pompidiou Centre


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Graffiti Project - latest


Guess so - Rue de Renard, Paris

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Graffiti Project - new location

A new city, a whole new ball park when it comes to photographing graffiti and street art. There's too, too much to take pictures of, so I will try to limit myself to posting the very best ones I find, like this gargoyle on the Quai de Montebello (left bank of the Seine right opposite Notre Dame) - a little obvious I know, but worth it for all that.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Graffiti Project - latest


Totally wicked. Lothian Road, Edinburgh..

Paul Muldoon - Edinburgh Book Festival

Paul Muldoon is indeed one of our greatest poets: challenging and playful, as he showed last Saturday evening. It was good to hear him read a full set of poems, especially the Wayside Shrine sequence from Maggot. He was relaxed and entertaining in the process, even having his son on stage to read a chorus to one poem, Lovely.

 http://www.paulmuldoon.net/ to check him out.


Friday, 26 August 2011

Graffiti Project - latest


Another cracker from Lothian Road, Edinburgh. Note falling brick that hasn't moved.

Julian Sands - Pinter's poetry - Edinburgh

You'd think that something directed by John Malkovich would be a bit, well, better really. This show had loads and loads of publicity - pictures of Malkovich handling out his own flyers on the Royal Mile in the Guardian, both he and Sands interviewed on the Culture Show, Sands on Radio 4, blah, blah. Certainly drew me to it.

Pinter's poems are the stars of the show, pithy, political and pleasingly personal. I knew some of them, but his love poems were a revelation.

I think my disappointment is that actors, even good ones like Sands coached by the poet themselves, as he was by Pinter before his death, just don't do poetry justice. Its music was lost in making meaning, over-rehearsed 'chat' between poems that lost all spontaneity, gesture, and actor-ly bowing. Poets just don't bow like that after their readings. Note to self - better go hear a poet reading their own or another's work.

Worth a try though if you not acquainted with Pinter's poems. It's on tour later in the year.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Graffiti Project - latest


A really good one from Lothian Street, Edinburgh this time. I love the plants in the pavement, they seem so right.