The sun was hot on my back as I cycled over to Ivy Writers at Café Delaville, just up the road from my flat. du soleil, enfin! A glass of wine in hand, I climbed the regal staircase and chose myself a suitable throne for the evening’s reading.
American poetry-power-couple Edward Smallfield and Valerie Coulton were visiting from their home in Barcelona, and treated us to readings from their chapbook lirio as well as poems from their other publications.
Pressed warmly next to each other, watching the couple read lirio was a pleasure. They performed as a duet, bringing musicality and two distinct voices to their poetry. lirio is a collaboration full of dreamlike nostalgia, with sparkling lines such as “somebody has unscrewed the moon and stars”, “postcard to our former selves” and “nonexistent titles have been translated anyway”. The two poets use their collaboration to examine their relationship with each other as well as their surroundings, notably Spain. Edward describes the writing experience as a tennis match, which we hear clearly in their playful rallies:
Edward “everybody likes sweet things (…)”
Valerie “(…) I prefer salt”
Edward “You can live here your whole life and still be a stranger”
Valerie “What else would I be?”
[singlepic id=1869 w=320 h=240 float=left] Valerie Coulton is also the author of open book, The Cellar Dreamer, passing world pictures and the lily book. Her poems are sensorial and reflective, the mirror is a recurrent motif: “Years of gold mirrors”, “You who have grown old in so many mirrors” but her lines lose none of their acuity. She plays with syntax and lexicon like a torero. [singlepic id=1867 w=320 h=240 float=right]
Edward Smallfield‘s poetry is full of gentle musings – “A life is learning how to watch”, “books multiply and refract” that rang true for many an ear in the room: “Stranger, alien, exile”. Reworking the traditional sonnet form, Smallfield manages to create something new and fluid.
L’Amélioration is an original one-woman show based on a play by the poet and dramatist David Lescot. Performed by Carole Pereira and directed by Catriona Laing, L’Amélioration is an interactive and introspective piece. Pereira’s character Pascal, complete with swimming suit, hat and goggles, is the vehicle of Lescot’s argument. Thankfully for the audience, she is fascinating.
“Tu marches, tu te déplaces… si tu veux changer de direction…tu changes de direction” You walk, you move … if you want to change direction…you change direction
“Si tu veux poser quelque chose… ben, tu peux le poser” If you want to put something down…well, you put it down
There were some brilliant moments of comedy interspersed with intense reflection. The crowd burst into giggles when a lady, arriving late and trying to be inconspicuous, was whirled onstage and ordered to fill a bucket of water from bottles. Lescot was a musician before he came to theatre, which comes through in Pascal’s lines. Movement is also vitally important too, sometimes frantically disordered, then suddenly robotic, rehearsed.
Several of us were given handouts to read, segments of text forming Pascal’s agenda. Diving into her bucket of water, she debriefs:
“La journée d’hier a plutôt été une bonne journée.. qui a consisté surtout a préparer la journée d’aujourd’hui, et a répéter encore et encore que… la pratique sur la théorie est aveugle, la théorie sur la pratique est morte (…)
Yesterday was quite a good day…which was spent for the most part preparing today, and repeating over and over that…practice over theory is blind, theory over practice is dead, (…)
Holding an audience captive with no other cast members to support you is a difficult task that Pereira handles with ease. Likeable, fragile, identifiable yet foreign, Pascal is brought alive. We were captivated from the start.
BIOS AND PHOTOS COURTESY OF IVY WRITERS PARIS AND THE AUTHORS, for more information or to follow this reading series please see their blog here, their facebook group here or email your info for their readings emailings at firstname.lastname@example.org
Valerie Coulton is the author of open book, The Cellar Dreamer, passing world pictures, the lily book, and, most recently, lirio (a chapbook collaboration Edward Smallfield). Her poems have appeared in the EtherDome Anthology As if it Fell from the Sun, and many journals and websites, including Front Porch, kadar koli, New American Writing, 26, Parthenon West Review, Barcelona INK and e-poema. She has participated in poetry conferences in Delphi, Paou, Paros, and Sofia, and lives in Barcelona with her husband, the poet Edward Smallfield.
For more see: Apogee Press and on Facebook.
Edward Smallfield is the author of The Pleasures of C, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (a book-length collaboration with Doug MacPherson), locate (a chapbook collaboration with Miriam Pirone), equinox, and, most recently, lirio (a chapbook collaboration Valerie Coulton). His poems have appeared in alice blue, Barcelona INK, bird dog, e-poema.eu, Five Fingers Review, New American Writing, Páginas Rojas, Parthenon West Review, 26, Wicked Alice, and many other magazines and websites. He has participated in poetry conferences in Delphi, Paou, Paros, and Sofia, and lives in Barcelona with his wife, the poet Valerie Coulton.
For more see: Apogee Press and on Facebook.
Carole Pereira is a French actress and literature teacher. She plays Pascal in “l’Amélioration” a one-woman show based on a play by David Lescot. Carole Pereira trained with J.L. Pérignac at the Théâtre de la Coupe d’Or in Poitiers where she directed her own company for 3 years. Having played many classic stage roles, she is currently exploring contemporary theatre and has also acted in a few short films and is looking into longer cinema projects.
Catriona Laing, DIRECTOR, has been involved with theater since she was 7 and studied theater in an acting company in Nantes. In Paris, she studied under Philippe Dormoy at l’école du Samovar. Then she got involved with the l’école du cirque Annie Fratellini and tap danced for many years, as well as doing modern dance. Currently, Catriona Laing is exploring the diverse fields of theater creation from directing and acting to puppet theater, light production while completing a Master in Directing and theater studies. Since 2006 she has been creating and directing shows for Whisky Time. She directed « les Présidentes » by Werner Schwab in 2007, « L’amélioration » by David Lescot which is being presented in a different format here, and she is also currently working on a project on Violette Leduc
David Lescot is a young French contemporary playwrite and poet whose theater works have made the rounds of Europe and who was even nominated for a Molière award in 2009 in the discovery category. His play “L’Européenne”, (published by Actes Sud-papiers, 2007), won the Grand prix for dramatic literature 2008. L’Européenne, directed by the author, was created at the Comedy Theatre, Reims, in May 2009, then played at the Napoliteatro festival in Naples, the Théâtre de la Ville Paris, the TNBA Bordeaux, the Grand Theatre Nantes, the Union Theatre Limoges, the Halle aux Grains Blois. Read an interview with Lescot in English about this play. Here, he also reveals he was a trained trumpet player who used to play jazz. Currently, he writes and also teaches at Paris Nanterre University. Tonight, you are seeing an adaptation of his play “The improvement”.