“People, Passion, Poetry, Paris”
The passion bubbling from my compatriots for Paris and all things French never ceases to amaze me.
As a small group of us followed author Leonard Pitt (“Paris Disparu”) Saturday through the streets and passages of Paris, to discover Paris past, Paris present and Paris’ finest chocolates, we couldn’t help but be energized by Leonard’s expressive passion for history and how it relates to the city we know today. We started on the very spot where a wall had once divided the city from her enemies in the “Cour Carée” of the Louvre and wound our way through the beautiful 19th-century passages past the chocolate shops a chocoholic shouldn’t miss (Debauve & Gallais and A la Mère de Famille). He told us he does this walk every time he’s in Paris, as with each pass through, his appreciation deepens. We understood completely.
During the all night revelry of La Nuit Blanche, hundreds of thousands of Parisians took to the streets on foot, rollerblades and bikes, to take part in this massive public cultural event where artists, musicians, singers and inventors openly expressed their own passions. We marveled at the ingenuity, the creativity and the wherewithall to produce and coordinate such a glorious event…and became passionate with them for making it possible for us.
Last night at the opening dinner “chez moi” of the Paris Poetry Workshop, where the students, instructors and friends passionate for poetic form, gathered to get to know one another and hear a bit of poetry, the conversation was as much devoted to the intense desire to live in France and the culture shock of making the transition as it was to the art of prose and poetry. There was a mixture of those present who had lived in Paris a long time and others who had just moved here and still in shock. The veterans both reassured and warend the newcomers — “Don’t worry — your passion for Paris will overcome the hurd
les…and you’ll never want to go back.”
Workshop leader, Cecilia Woloch, expressed her passion for Paris this way in a poem from 2001:
I love the filth of Paris, I love Paris in its filth. Even stepping off into Passy, in the elegant “sixteenth,” I can taste the soot in the air, a black curtain billowing after the train. And the woman who offers me petits fours, pretty petits fours on a plate – I love when she pulls her dainty chair away and lights a cigarette. How the gilded room fills with smoke and she disappears in it, crossing her legs…
(To read the entire poem titled “Filth,” click on /parlerparis/articles/filth.html. The Paris Poetry Workshop is generously opening its afternoon sessions to the Paris public…so if you have been dying to participate, but don’t have the time for the full workshop, now’s your chance to take advantage of a session or two. Plus, don’t miss the evening readings around town. Click here /parlerparis/issues/pparis28-9-05.html to see the schedule.)
This coming Thursday, an American with a talent for baking and a passion for pups, celebrates the grand opening of Mon Bon Chien, Hat Sternstein’s gourmet pet bakery and “salon de beauté”…that took her the better part of a passionate year to accomplish against all odds, not to mention a life’s savings. We all admire her tenacity! (Help her celebrate 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., at 12, rue Mademoiselle, 15th, 01.48.28.40.12, [email protected])
It took me years to understand what drives us so passionately to be in Paris and France, to go to such lengths to create a life here, as difficult as it is to battle the bureaucracy, earn a living, own a home, start a business, get a driver’s license! Then one day, it struck like lighting — it all made sense, clear as the sound of Notre Dame’s bell: PASSION.
The French have it and now, we can have it, too.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]
P.S. I am very glad to have you ALL back! Please don’t miss the special messages at the beginning of the newsletter…the conference and seminar are less than three weeks away — but you can still register at the discounted price!