Friday, October 23, 2009

In reverse chronological order...


Last night, to celebrate the exciting publication of Moonlight in Odessa (Bloomsbury, 2009) by Janet Skeslien Charles (pictured here below, right), someone who took my novel/nonfiction workshop a few years back when it was held in the cozy home of Vivienne Vermes, near Montparnasse--Vivienne who is the author of Sand Woman (Rebus, 2000), Metamorphoses (L’Harmattan, 2003) & Passages (L’Harmattan, 2005 in bilingual English-French with co-author Anne Mounic). As for Janet, her first book of fiction is having such exciting success, I couldn't be more thrilled. It goes to show that hard work does pay off!!!

And Clydette & Charles de Groot, longtime friends of Janet's, shared their excitement with the Paris writing & book community by inviting many people over to their gorgeous home to be spoiled silly, drinking champagne in the yellow glow of the base of the Eiffel Tower, gorging ourselves on great conversation in a delightful setting.

Some of those present included Sylvia Whitman from Shakespeare & Co bookstore, who has done so much for Paris and visiting writers over these past years by revamping the bookstore & getting more excellent authors in to read--& where Janet has so generously been teaching a writing workshop (the Evening Writing Workshop) at bargain prices to future book authors for the past few years.
Then novelist & nonfiction author, Jake Lamar, & his wife, Dorli Lamar, a performer/ singer (pictured at right here, with Pamela Shandel in between them) were there, to share stories of other books, out and still forthcoming (Jake has written the memoir Bourgeois Blues & 5 novels: The Last Integrationist, Close to the Bone, If Six Were Nine, Rendezvous Eighteenth & most recently Ghosts of Saint-Michel).

Janet's fellow writing group attendees and writing partners such as Christopher Vanier (another person who took my nonfiction/novel workshop, & therefore who I am really excited will also have a first book Carribean Chemistry: Tales from St Kitts this fall--it is already available for preorder & forthcoming in Dec from Kingston UP. Cozying up deep in conversation were workshop member & alumn Mary Ellen Gallagher & Marie Houzelle as well (pictured below at left here), & Janet's writing partner, Anca Metiu (pictured at top, right, with me in the reflection of the mantel on which Janet's books are sitting). Janet's family members & more friends & fellow authors were also to be spotted lounging about, or chatting with Geneva Writers' Conference organizer, author of 3 memoirs & a book on writing, Susan Tiberghien.

Laurel Zuckerman (author of Rêves barbares du professeur Collie & of Sorbonne Confidential) & Heather Heartley (whose first collection of poetry, Knock, Knock, is forthcoming in 2010 with Carnegie Mellon Press) (pictured above at right with grande piano behind her) were also spotted sipping the bubbly and catching up with old friends, or meeting new ones such as Pamela Shandel (pictured between Jake & Dorli Lamar above right) or Mary R Duncan (author of the memoir Henry Miller is Under My Bed), & who I had just started to get to talk to when the evening began to wind down and we all toppled back out into the cool, autumn night--having missed being rained on, in fact, so that the air was wonderfully crisp, cool & refreshing as we tottered home to--in my case--the opposite end of Paris.

But my week was also spend in much more intimate social settings: such as the delightful dinner by the fireplace at Agnès Vannouvong's with Pascale. Fire-roasted sweet potatoes & steaks with heavy winter wines & bubbly conversation were followed by a nice tropical pineapple for desert.

We talked financing conferences, work, play, books, loved ones, & travel, so swept up in our words I missed the metro and had to catch a cab home, which felt divine, in fact, all winter-comfy, the plush leather of the mercedes. Am I the only one who really enjoys cab rides? "Home, Charles!" :) For me, it is the spoiled sense of just being able to be taken from one place to another, no train rumble and overwhite fluorescent bulbs or that smell of piss which lines the metro corridors in winter, accompanied by the long, rattling coughs of all the smokers now infected with bronchitis. Ah, falling into winter!

But last weekend, too, included a wonderful eve out: to hear Christophe Marchand-Kiss & Anne Kawala read for the first in a series of "Cabaret" Saturdays at a little 18th arrondissement local bar situated at 90 rue Marcadet (the next evening will be 14th Nov--so mark your calendars. Plus, Christophe will be reading with Beverley Bie Brahic for Ivy Writers Paris on the 17th of Nov 2009 at Le Next, 17 rue Tiquetonne, 75002 Paris: so don't miss that, either!).
Both authors performed some of their own work then pieces they do in unison.

After, we sat around with big glasses of Leffe on the thick leather sofas, rotating every once in awhile so that everyone present got to meet & talk to everyone else--from audience members who had made the reading, to some who just joined in later for a drink & chat (such as French & American poets Vannina Maestri, Jacques Sivan, & Jonathan Regier).

The week before that was all recovery from the previous weekend's events in Amsterdam (my workshop & Versal Editors lunch) & Salon des Mots in Utrecht.

Voici, pour terminer, quelques photos de mon weekend au pays-bas!: At right, Me (Jennifer K Dick) reading from Fluorescence and then new work, followed by Rufo Quintavalle shocking my socks off with his long poem which is built off or rather within the first and last letters of the lines of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself, & then a little half of the jazz duo on drums: John Betsch, as well as the duo itself, with Jobic LeMasson on piano. A beautiful night in Utrecht, thanks, as I have said before, to Anna Arov--the hostess, MC, graceful organizer & orchestrator of this splendid night out!!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Proud to be part of Versal Magazine

It has been a wonderful experience this fall to be part of Versal magazine, to be involved, as I currently am, in reading submissions for issue 8, submerged in the reading of poems by writers all over the globe. And to be part of a wonderful group. It was great to go to Amsterdam in Holland last spring and read at the Sugar Factory, and then to return last week to Amsterdam and then to Utrecht to read with the great group of authors and musicians pictured at the left here: me (top left), rufo quintavalle (top right), jobic(next step down, left), anna arov (our fearless MC and organisatrice of Salon des Mots, at right), john betsch (next step down left), amy hollowell (at his right), unknown blonde (sorry, we chatted, but I forget her name, does it start with an M?, and she wasn't performing!!! bottom left) and arturo from Aruba (bottom right). We had a great night of poetry, prose, jazz, wine, conversation, laughter.

It is not easy to make people work together. And when it comes to art, the way people's brains shoot roots out every which way can make teamwork even more difficult. So that is why Versal is surprising me, too--for the group is vey tightly knit, thanks to the efforts of Megan Garr, and the lines of dialogue are open.

I think it is for this reason Versal keeps finding itself lauded for its accomplishments and on its past issues (I know, I was not part of the staff for these, but I am the proud contributor of translations of poems by Albane Gellé in Versal 7). For example, this fall Versal has not only been awarded a Best Of Amsterdam prize, but was just reviewed online at New Pages. Check out what others have to say about the magazine!

Oh, and if you have not yet submitted, you still have a chance. So get on that!!!! (Dust off the ol' manuscripts on the shelf and fling some pages our way!)

We're (and I am) looking forward to reading you!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Evening Time is Reading Time... Utrecht, Holland

My favorite photo from this past weekend's trek to Amsterdam and Utrecht is the one of 2 twin signs along a small road in Utrecht. Attached to...? It appeared to just be a house. And don't we all agree with the inhabitant's message?

It made me feel like getting out an old lantern and curling up on a warm comfy chair with a blanket over me and a big, old, bound book whose spine would creak just a little when I opened it.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The newest Paris readings listing is UP online now, CLICK HERE go directly to the readings Blog. Now with featured prose and poets per month, RSS feed options and more to come as I figure things out.

Also, REWORDS is 2 years old!!! Celebrate with us by posting a poem as a member or as a comment to one of the poems currently up at the site!!!

I am off to Amsterdam and Utrecht this coming weekend. Hope that you will join me for my Words in Here workshop, or for Lunch, or for the reading and Performance in Utrecht as part of Salon des Mots!