Parler Paris Après Midi

Meeting of June 9, 2015

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Cecilia Woloch - photo by Mark Savage

Poet Cecilia Woloch came to Paris in 1994 and the rest is history. Twenty years later, her journal from her first bits of time in the City of Light have become her first novel, “Sur la Route.”

At Après Midi, where she commanded a record-breaking crowd, she opened her talk with two poems from her newest chatbook of poetry, “Earth,” awarded the Two Sylvias Press Prizes.  One of the poems was about her own mother, but dedicated the reading to the passing of my own mother just three weeks earlier. Tears flowed, not only from me, but from others in the audience who were touched by the poignant words with the message: “When you miss your departed mother, just look in the mirror.”

(Cecilia is the author of six collections of poems, most recently Carpathia (BOA Editions 2009) and Tzigane, le poème Gitan (Scribe-l’Harmattan 2014), the French translation of her second book, Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem. Her novella Sur la Route, a finalist for the Colony Collapse Prize, appears from Quale Press in 2015.

Then she opened up Sur la Route and read from about 20 of the postcard-like vignettes —brief, vivid, poetic episodes that trace the path of “a disaffected American woman on the road in France and western Europe” to the point that we wanted desperately to hear the end of the story! After spellbounding the audience, she opened up the floor to questions.

Clearly, everyone was moved or touched in some way and engaged as personal stories came to light. Before ending the session, as a master teacher, she gave us an assignment:
Create a scene of departure, one paragraph to one page, based on one of your own departures. Put down the actual and authentic details. Think about:

•    Where you are and where you are going?
•    Why?
•    What’s in your suitcase?
•    What’s in your handbag?
•    What are you nervous about?
•    How are you getting to the airport or station?
•    How are you dressed?
•    What plans have you made?
•    What have you left unplanned?
•    What mistakes are you making right now?
•    What are you leaving behind?
•    What are you heading toward?

Write in present tense, first person. Allow the language to be casual. Take 20 minutes to write it.

A great lesson for writers to learn…she said when you make note of the details, even twenty years later, the feelings and emotions at the time will come flowing back.

For those who wanted a copy of her newest novel, "Sur La Route," but were unable as they were sold out, you may either find them at Shakespeare and Co. http://shakespeareandcompany.com/ or order one directly from Cecilia by emailing [email protected]?subject=Sur_La_Route .

Cecilia teaches workshops all over the world. To learn more, visit http://ceciliawoloch.squarespace.com/

In attendance were:

•    Anne Graaff
•    Becky and Robert Rigaux
•    Cathy Eifling
•    Cecilia Llompart
•    Dominique and Sophie Pscudo
•    Donna Bell
•    Donna Blazevic
•    Elizabeth Iannaci
•    Fred Grazzoli
•    Jackie Walraven
•    Jeanne Simonoff
•    Jim Haynes
•    Jo Candy
•    Kathy Rowe
•    Larry Colker
•    Laurie Kendall
•    Linda Berg
•    Lisa Anselmo
•    Lois and Rob Mandel
•    Maggie and Mario Colecchia
•    Marcia Cohen
•    Margo Berdeshevsky
•    Mary Duncan
•    Michelle and Garry Moggio
•    Michelle Washington
•    Moria Ruiz
•    Nadege Gigarol
•    Nancy Clark
•    Nancy Kissock
•    Pamela Leavy
•    Patricia Laplante Collins
•    Patricia Wilson
•    Raenette de Cicco
•    Robert Sparks
•    Ron Gerow
•    Sabine Casiulis
•    Terry Parker

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