Last week we took a five day break in Paris and enjoyed visiting the two English medium open mic events that we know of there, Spoken Word in Paris and Paris Lit Up.
On Monday evenings it's Spoken Word in Paris, hosted by David Barnes every week in the cellar under Le Chat Noir at 76 rue Jean Pierre Timbaud (more info at www.spokenwordparis.org/ ) Venue and host are really laid-back. We've been there three times now and always enjoy the crowd there, who are Americans, French and English, many students, many poets and writers. We went there after a couple of hours' rest, having got into the Gare Du Nord at 3.45pm.
There was a theme (Ghosts, of course, as it was the week of Hallowe'en) and we'd hastily sorted out some suitable poems. We were pleased to meet Bob Hill, the headline reader. Originally from Bournemouth, he also runs poetry events near Oxford, where he's now based.
There was an excellent prose piece from another Englishman, Elliott, who lives in Croyden, Surrey, and who is writing stories and a novel. Troy, a regular at both Paris open mics, was prepared to extemporise creepy piano music accompaniments to poems, and he did so for my story about Wastwater and its grisly history. There were lots of friendly faces and great work, much of it in progress, giving a lovely organic feel to the night. There are excellent photos by Sabine Dundure Photography, on their Facebook page, here. Sometimes I could wish for a less candid camera to be pointed at me, though! Here we are reading at Le Chat Noir.
On Thursday it was over to Belleville to Paris Lit Up's Hallowe'en event - a riot of amazing costumes, dry ice steaming out of a highly alcoholic punch, Emily Ruck Keene with a raven perched on her hat, reading "Nevermore" with loud audience participation, and a whole range of enthusiastic readers and performers. I didn't know all their names and so I include my photos here mostly for aesthetic interest - they were a wonderful bunch! We felt as if we had become part of the group, thanks to Emily's humorous and imaginative hosting and Jason's amazing prose poem, Sarah's lively poems in the persona of the ghost of Vincent Van Gogh, Chris with his guitar ("I must confess, i am a virgin") the sadness of farewell from a young singer-songwriter driven back to England by poverty.
Then there were Mr Grigri Man's voodoo threats, a fantastic stand-up conversation about French politics by Naniso, a talented young black man, a singer-poet with a Zorro cape, a beautiful Black Swan look-alike, called Tara Fleur, a blonde opera singer/poet in blue boots, and other talented performers and readers. Elliot was there too, and Troy, looking like Mephistophiles, and a young angst-filled American follower of Byron. There was Nick, who read one of our favourite poems by MacNeice, "The Flowers in the Garden". I tried to take a photo of each performer and here are some of them.
Here we are reading at Paris Lit Up. We're saving up for the next time!
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Janice & Dónall Dempsey
We are poets, writers, spoken word performers, editors and organisers of spoken word events, based in the United Kingdom.