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Ivy Writers – Peter Cockelbergh and Jacques Rebotier

Ivy Writers – Peter Cockelbergh and Jacques Rebotier

Review by Missy Green.

Ivy Writers presented at a new venue last week – Next, (an appropriately named bar being the next bar to host Ivy Writers after the painfully-slow-to-get-a-drink-loud-salsa-dancing Delaville café. Next had none of the classical look of the previous venue. The bar was modern, dark and glowing with paneled colored lights which made me think “no way this is where the reading is.” But my friends, we should always remember that the magic happens underground.

In the basement we heard spectacular poetry by two poets, the young Belgian poet Peter Cockelbergh and the seasoned French poet Jacques Rébotier. Arpine Konyalian Grenier was due to read but unfortunately couldn’t make it after having broken a bone or two or three.

Peter Cockelbergh’s style is multilingual and musical. His words travels through daily life and common things such as, “ooooh! Petit pois.” His work moves through different countries with rhythm and a fascination for alliteration. For example, “wet cat patches” repeats a sticky opening and closing of the mouth. More alliteration is found in “eternal damnation, so deliciously, dat is alles, dat”

He writes in English, French, Dutch, German and some Spanish, intertwining syllables into music. His poems move like a stream of images and languages fading in and out. His novel use of common objects perplexes the reader, such as “when a chair is not a chair” or “images see language only.”

Particuarly outstanding was his series “Stretches of Spain,” six short poems featuring parts of Andalucia (although Barcelona snuck in there too). Here are fragments from all six:

pigeon dancing flamenco, country shot to pieces
tocata of turismo
amidst rebajas
walled in red and yellow suddenly dissipate.
Mint leaves. street veined albaicins, soft settling
flies hitch a ride

His poems capture the very essence of Spain, particularly the line “too hot to write.”

Jacques Rébotier has written more than a dozen books of poetry and his talent doesn’t end there. His work read out loud, blurs the lines between stand up comedy, clowns and theatre. He evokes someone who you might meet in a bar on just an average day who completely turns your mood around for the better.

He began his reading with a “petit poem” called SOS. Which played with the sounds “s” and “o.”

sossossossoss!! Save our Souls!

His humor is made for the light of heart and specially appeals to those fond of word play, grammar and syntax. He recites his “Éloge aux verbes être et avoir” with the aid of a paper party blower, used intermittently between verses.

He affectionately refers to être and avoir as his “amis auxiliares” and splish splashes between phrases, humorously clipped together. Such as:

j’ai une idée.
Une seul?
une idée par jour si’l vous plaît!”

j’ai le verb avoir. j’ai eu deux fois composé le verbe avoir!

ja’i une tête. je SUIS une tête.
ja’i des jambes. j’aime beaucoup m’en servir!.
j’ai un peu fatigué, je suis extrêmement fatigant

Jacques is not only entertaining by himself, he makes the audience part of his act. His next work, a “petit questionnaire” invited audience members to respond to ridiculous questions such as:

Do you consider yourself a ferocious animal?

Eventually he called an audience member to the stage to help with the question, “Do you consider yourself a stuffed animal?” For the stuffed animals there was a special disclaimer that the audience “victim” had to read out loud.

Je suis un joue pour les enfants de ____ ans. …. je m’excuse.

Just when Jacques was about to leave stage he hesitated, so our host pressed him on for one last poem. This time, the poem was bilingual with the verses in French and English, Jacques read the French and the peluche read the second. It was a poem about beauty and ugliness manifesting itself, appearing when you don’t look for it, always with a delightful touch of laughter. Here is an extract:

beauty appears without being sought and it’s not beauty.
ugliness must too come by itself.
I see you,
walk to me.
I say, hello!

Et voilà, it was a great night of poetry at Ivy Writers. We missed you, Arpine Konyalian Grenier and hope you’re on the mend, reading and writing away.

Download mp3