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Paris Poetry in Cirque-ular Motion

As we boarded the RER D headed back to Paris from the “Stade de France” station, our heads were reeling with what we had just witnessed and I had this single thought about life in Paris: it is simply impossible to have a dull moment in the City of Light. This might not be true for every Parisian, but it is certainly true for many non-French friends.

In the last 36 hours, AFTER the wedding at the Eiffel Tower on Monday (no ordinary occasion!), one might count the activities on our agendas worth a month of high energy experiences, ending with the “Alegria” performance of the Cirque de Soleil under the big tent on the stadium grounds.

36 HOURS STARTING AT 8 P.M.

Monday evening, the Paris Poetry Workshop now in progress led by international poet and instructor Cecilia Woloch, gathered at the new-ish (1 year) Berkeley Books of Paris American and English language second-hand bookshop at 8, rue Casimir Delavigne (6th) to hear three of our favorite poets read their best works. Coincidentally, the bookstore is just opposite the Hôtel des Grands Balcons, the very spot I called home in Paris for many years when I was a mere tourist.

Lisa Pasold, a freelance journalist and tour guide who writes travel, architecture and culture articles, not to mention, brilliant poetry, read first (published books: “A Bad Year for Journalists” and “Weave,” Web site: http://www.lisapasold.com/). Kathleen Spivack, author of six books, with works published in over 300 magazines and anthologies, a Fulbright professor, Pulitzer Prize nominee and Director of the Advanced Writing Workshop for professional writers, whose students have taken every prize (Yale, NEA, Pitt, Viking and Penguin), fumbled adoringly with her two pairs of glasses and stack of poems on loose leaf paper and then mesmerized us with her intricately woven works. Cecilia Woloch, author of “Sacrifice,” “Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem” and her ‘latest’ book, “Late” (including one poem affectionately titled “Forty-Three Rue de Saintonge” — my own address in Paris!, ended the reading with a series of her newer poems that took us inside her Kentucky family’s world through the her eyes as an innocent child.

I learned to love poetry 13 years ago when I first heard Cecilia Woloch read at a tiny second-hand bookshop in the 6th…and discovered that it was more entertainment for intellectuals than for sissies. If you haven’t tried it, then there’s still time to take advantage of the evening events open to everyone:

Wednesday, May 16, 7:30 p.m.
Ivy Writers Presents a Poetry Reading
With Poets/Performers/Visual Artists/Sculptors/Book Makers Steve Dalachinsky, Yuko Otomo, Kate Vanhouten
Le Next, 17, rue Tiquetonne, 75002 Paris (just off rue Montorgueil)

Thursday, May 17, 7 p.m.
Poetry Reading and Book Signing with Cole Swensen and Sarah Riggs
The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore, 22, rue St Paul, 75004 Paris

Friday, May 18, 7:30 p.m. – 9:30
Reading with Workshop Participants and Heather Hartley
Shakespeare & Co Bookshop, 37, rue de la Bucherie, 75005 Paris

22 HOURS REMAINING

Tuesday morning was a first-time experience trekking to a storage facility in Gennevilliers north of Paris to open and inspect a crated photographic work of art (“High Museum, Atlanta” by Barbara Kasten) that once belonged to me (10 years earlier) and now I was purchasing from the ex-spouse I once sold it to (!) with a “Conservateur” (art curator) and specialty transporter to take it back to Paris. It was an emotional experience to see it once again, watch it being carried up the three flights of stairs and hung on the wall to immediately take over the focus of the room.

17 HOURS LEFT TO BURN

Parler Paris Après Midi met as usual at 3 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais where a smaller-than-usual group gathered around the center round table. The conversation started as one, with each chiming in, then graduated to one-on-ones and a mingling among us all. We learned a lot about the French employment system from a Frenchman who had been laid off from his banking job and was looking for things to do while receiving a rather cushy unemployment pay. Read all about the afternoon and see pictures at /parlerparis/apresmidi.html

12 HOURS TO THE START OF A NEW DAY

Thanks to poet Kathleen Spivak and her friend Jean-Pierre, who were unable to use the tickets they had to Cirque de Solei , my ex-marketing partner and friend, Marcia Mazria of Los Angeles, and I hopped on the RER D to the Stade de France to take their seats under the big tent at 8 p.m. Arriving 5 minutes before show time, like bad little girls, we snaked down little by little till we found available seats closer to the stage and by shooting from the hip with no flash, managed to capture a few photos (forbidden by the establishment).

If you’ve never seen a Cirque de Soleil performance, then put it on your MUST DO list and do it fast. It’s total eye candy — a visual experience that will boggle your vision and your mind. Acrobats of the highest talent perform feats that seem humanly impossible, while donning costumes that fall off the chart of creative imagination. Marcia endlessly uttered “oh,” “ooh,” “aah” as we watched young twin girls contort their tiny frames like rubber bands. They smiled steadily and moved in perfect harmony twisting and turning, their heads sitting on their “tooshes” as easily as ones hands might rest in one’s lap. A young woman twirled six silver “Hoola Hoops” in opposite directions from many parts of her body in perfect mechanization. Two muscular gentleman twirled sticks of fire with their feet creating illusions of fiery circles…and it goes on, and on, with not one animal or animal trainer among them.

By the end of the performance, I felt old, out of shape and talentless…but well worth the negative self-image and the realization that within the last 36 hours, I had been a party to more sensory injection than most mortals…thanks to Paris.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Thursday is a holiday in France — “Ascension” — and lots of folks will “faire le pont,” taking a long weekend, as will I — to the Dordogne for a break at La Cellette, the château. As a result, the Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group will be closed this coming Saturday for the holiday. See you next week as usual!

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