Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes. I had a wonderful weekend in Paris, as a guest of the FIAC art fair and the artist, poet and force of nature Alex Cecchetti. I took part in two events – first, a discussion on the theme ‘The World is not the World’ with the Italian poet Jolanda Insana and the philosopher Markus Gabriel, who spoke brilliantly about why we should resist the narratives of mechanisation and neuro-science that claim we aren’t free subjects (if you want to see his lecture, which I’d recommend, it’s an hour into this recording of the evening)
The video doesn’t really capture the space – we were just round the corner from Serge Gainsbourg’s house, in a chapel at the school of Beaux-Arts full of imposing statues and casts, where a giant on horseback towered over me as I spoke.
And then then the next night there was a salon with no set running order, where the artists all sat on stage and responded to eachother’s poems or pieces. There was a dancer, an amped-up heartbeat, videos and choral music, and the poetic company I was in was fairly nerve-wracking: Brian Turner, Homero Aridjis, Dorothea Lasky and Ko Un for goodness sakes. They all gave such beautiful readings, and I was pleased to swap books with Dorothea afterwards (she is very cool, btw, and has great taste in jewellery), and open hers up to read:
Even the sound of French is open
And the children find me very interesting to look at
It is as if I am a TV show or supper
Otherwise I pottered around markets and visited the amazing Le Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (thanks to Peter Raynard and Pascale Petit for the facebook tip-off), which was exactly my kind of thing – unicorns, falcon hoods, stuffed leopards, fairytale wolves, and owl-feather ceilings. Also: I ate escargots and Orangina Haribo.
Whilst I’m on the subject of all things euro, the absolutely wonderful shortlist for the Popescu European Poetry Translation Prize, which I judged with Olivia McCannon, is now online. Take a poetic Grand Tour and read all of them.