Monday, 5 October 2009


I have just spent two nights at Notopos, un événement de la Biennale internationale des Poètes en Val de Marne (BIPVAL), au sein du projet européen « Trytich : Poésie – identité – Coexistence » soutenu par le commissariat à la culture de l’Union Européenne et piloté par la société chypriote Atlantis Productions en collaboration avec les quatre pays partenaires Chypre, France, Suède et Grèce, whatever that means! I always think I'm quite good when I get to say the French but not so much when I have to listen.

The lovely, lovely, lovely Christophe Marchand-Kiss kinda tractor-beamed me via series of evasive emails which actually attached alligator clips which were the Praxis Molds of the Hoxton fin of the lad I love, and whose wires apparently led into a rustling bingo-wing all arranged, it looked like, for karaoke later and I was down to do John Prine's "Jesus Christ: The Missing Years . . . et un 'bonus'" with someone called AnnaO but actually led out the other side into a shaking trifocal pornography whose panels each represented the level of magnification most associated with one of the three participating nations (France, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey). On Saturday, at the Maison de la Poesie restaurant, Christophe explained in terrible English how he distilled my pure coordinates out of fine ambient poetry dew, and to be fair had an alembic but I suspect a tip-off from the lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely respectively Stephen Rodefer or Caroline Bergvall? Bliss was it in that norm to be alive, but to be young was very heaven!

A folder in my hotel room held translations, by no less than Ian Bell, which were both much better than the original without not being exactly the same!

The readings took place in two venues, one in Paris and one in Vitry-sur-Seine, and on the coaches between, & I suspect the funding relates to the Vitry venue, whilst the Paris venue was because none of the fucko backwards redthroat Vitry locals could after a harvest day of barf and bucks under the bigger EuroDisney roller-coasters be bothered to fucking show up (some of those only scheduled to read in Vitry were a bit "poety" about this!!) to listen to some fucking poems.

After I watched perhaps ten poets read in languages I couldn't understand, though in some cases they were followed by translations into languages I couldn't understand. Everyone read with spectacular theatricality and vivacity, and some were accompanied with videos, music (including a bloody wicked lil faun-dude mincing about with a flute pastoral as shite) and other sound; some of this perhaps was in deference to the uncertain mix of linguistic competence present in the room; some perhaps merely à la mode.

It began with le travail de Heike Fiedler (Suisse), some rather wonderful macronic outbursts, quite understandable from a customer finally at the front of the queue she hallucinated. Here's something of Heike's I found on Youtube:

Heike is a matey. I'll try to find more of her stuff. She questioned the ethics of holding me down to tape my beak open "in case."

Cia Rinne (Finlande), whose kid I think Gür Genç (Chypre -- it means Cyprus!!) laughingly hoisted earlier, broke words into smaller sense units and rapidly nudged them around their somatic neighbourhood, achieving a semantic ensemble stripped to minimal syntax without, somehow, seeming semantically random. I dunno, in London I might have found this a bit I-shit-myself-with-jogging-loyalty, but perhaps the fact that there was sucha comprehensive context of Indo-European meaning being drawn upon enlivened it. Or maybe her puns were witty.

I also liked Anne Kawala; she'd prepped me beforehand and I was able to follow some of it. I think there were roses and some cabbages being grown in the desert, but the cat knocks the irrigation. Then I think something dies, and I think, counterintuitively, it may be the cat. Oh dear. New Criticism. Anne is interested in reviving language. Is it then alive or undead I asked, wanting comfort. We developed a distinction between Vampire Language, whose spiritless repose is restrained and unobvious to the untrained eye, and Zombie Language, whose deadness is unmistakeable and also contagious (a kind of ideology of ideology critique?). Anne was taken by my account of Lich Lords. She is also taken by Christophe, who seems like a well nang cat -- all "crashing fags to people who don't really smoke but oh go on then" and frenetically chillaxing via E E Cummings, Quentin Tarantino, & tax law. Maybe he was excited because it was the festival he was organising then.

I went off for a bit and tried without much success to make myself sick to sober up. In the meanwhile Niki Marangou, who would not be drawn over dinner, Ramon Dachs, and Anne Kawala read. Then Demosthenes Agrafiotis, whom I missed at Birkbeck earlier this year, showed and collaborated with a film which took its own sweet time portraying its abecedary. I thought of Tom Raworth's "Shorty Fleming". Demosthenes is into post-calligraphy. He went to China with Julien Blaine and they drank snake's bolood together, a kind of commitment which should be instructive to the wavering hick polick. Then I just nipped off again and missed Gür Genç.

Then I did my bit:

& a dude came through with a mop to sort out the Coke at the end, and came on again later to really make sure. Frédérique Wolf-Michaux read Ian Bell's translation, really getting into it, and making similar cuts to the ones I'd just made up. It was weird and thrilling. Collaboration ex post facto mixed up with vanity.

Then mighty Pambos Kouzalis and his flautist. Probably bards? Then Nathalie Yot, at pace and throwing some shapes. Then AnneO and her guitarist. Three or four extremely breathy minimalist trip-rock pieces about princesses, with photocopier imagery -- I think of ladies in massive fuck-off hats and big gowns, maybe candles -- it made me think of that story where a kiss is amplified and the chap that hears it goes mad and melts. Not Roald Dahl, the other one. Then Demosthenes again, less accessible to me this team. Steinbacher was reading and tapping his pencil on his glass and smacking his book emphatically, and when he lost his pencil he had a spare pencil, though he put it in the same place from where the first one had rolled, but then when Frédérique was giving one of the interleaved translations he retrieved them both to his inner pocket, putting an end to that drama, and I was plucked away on a bus to Vitry.

In the vast bus were me and Gür and two others. "If you only shake your dick in Cyprus you'll hit some poets." I think Gür was out of sorts. He is a composite of twisted shadows, half-darknesses wrapped compactly like an artichoke heart, his serrated umbra-flanges spooling around the edges of the System in murklaw Northern Cyprus, as though they were monkeybars. His favourite English poets are Philip Larkin and John Clare. He's interested in poets who killed themselves (Myakovsky killed himself). "The skeleton worked into the David Foster Wallace" (Keston Sutherland, page 8). A fiss of RK lips. Things were winding down in Vitry. Raptor void leaping from people to people. All the funnest hugs, ever. The director Jean-Pierre Balpe was hilariously despondent and thought the whole thing was a fucking failure. Ha ha ha ha!

Saskia de Jong said she liked poems if she liked the person who was saying them and didn't like them if she didn't. She ordered for me: une omlette avec fromage et une bloody mary. She told me my train was upstairs.

I'll maybe add more later!

BYEeee xxx

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