ON POETRY, WRITING AND RANDOM CULTURAL MATTERS

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Poetry Workshops - News

My next Paris Lit Up writing workshop is on Sunday 2 June in the library at Shakespeare and Company when we will be Taking a Word for a Walk. Come and see what you can create from just one word.

On Sunday 7 June I will be leading a workshop at the Reading Poetry Festival in the UK from 10am-12pm at the Museum of English Rural Life.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Poetry in Translation

New poem I've translated and versioned today from Senegalese poet and diplomat Birag Diop (1906-1989)

Spring
(Translation and version of Vernale by Birag Diop, 1960)

Weeping summons
death from the scent of lilies,
a demon from yesterday’s perfection
tires my heart.

A little perfume
lingers on the faded bouquet
and my heart is sad, grim
like the hearts of the damned.

I had a beautiful dream,
today, a little love.
But like a burst bubble
my dream is fled.


Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Hammam at the Paris Mosque

The Mosque in central Paris is right behind the Jardin du Plantes (left - poppies yesterday in full bloom) and is the perfect place to slough off your winter skin.

It's open alternate days to men and women (check the website) offering a variety of treatments. The basic package (not a basic price - 43 euros) includes black soap (savon noir), exfoliation (gommage) performed by very strong brillo pad wielding ladies, the use of the steam rooms and a ten minute massage with lavender scented oil. You can upgrade that to twenty minutes or longer.

I had a blissful time yesterday getting really clean and relaxed. It's not often you do nothing except sit and think, or chat quietly to a friend. Top tip is to get there early - as soon as it opens, if you want peace and quiet, as by the middle of the afternoon it was pretty full and noisy. Don't go if you are shy about public nudity (bikini bottoms excepted). Don't wear a bathing suit, you won't get clean enough and anyway no-one is looking.

Enjoy a mint tea and a pastry in the courtyard garden afterwards, look at the new leaves on the fig tree, sit in the sun, feed your crumbs to sparrows and when you're ready, get back into the slip-stream.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Rivoli Contemporary Art Museum ,Turin

The Italian royals always picked the best places to build. Now we can all experience their largesse. At Rivoli, set on a hill above Torino (that's Turin to you) with great views across the city and of the Alps  surrounding it, you can wander a sumptuous palace and enjoy contemporary art displayed in acres of space, room after room of it. You can even float out on a glass enclosed platform to take in the view. What an imaginative use of a building. A real indulgence.


There are so many things to choose from, but the highlights for me were Mona Hatoum' s Undercurrent and Richard Long's Rivoli Mud Circle (right). And it's always a pleasure to see Ai Wei Wei's urn dropping tryptich.

Italian artists I rather took a shine to were Mauricio Cattelan with his taxidermy hanging horse (left) and the geographical challenges of Luciano Fabro.

The current special exhibition is Ana Mendieta's She Got Love; a retrospective of the Cuban born American artist, who I have to confess I did not know (although I am acquainted with the work of her husband, Carl Andre - it's hard to forget the Tate brick purchase as every brickie in the UK will attest). Body work and a feminist perspective to the same in many different media are shown in one long gallery the entire length of the building. Fantastic. Of course, I couldn't help making my own contribution.

Ron Mueck at the Cartier Foundation

Hyper-realist sculpture lovingly crafted? Stunning building with woodland spring plants in full bloom? Must be an afternoon outing on May Day. I spent my day off (thanks international workers everywhere) dodging the showers in this stunning exhibition.

There are few pieces on show, but that's the point. You are not meant to be overwhelmed by the work of Aussie born Londoner, Ron Mueck. You're meant to take your time and really look at them.

My companion and I spent a good long while engaging with the narratives that each piece provokes.  Perhaps that's because we are both writers. Perhaps not. Some are tender and amusing, some shocking, some unnerving. All are beautifully observed.

Go see for yourself,. It's on until the end of September, but be prepared to queue, although to be honest we chatted the hour away quite happily.