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PLU Open Mic – La Rentrée featuring Nicole Peyrafitte and Pierre Joris

PLU Open Mic – La Rentrée featuring Nicole Peyrafitte and Pierre Joris

Report by Kate Noakes. Photographs by everyone.

A sultry night welcomed us back to Paris this week along with our special guests. The multi-disciplinary artists Nicole Peyraffitte and Pierre Joris rocked the stage with their amazing performances. Nicole incorporated song, drumming and bi-lingual readings of her poems in celebration of the North American landscape (‘the serenity of the swamp’), each of which has an accompanying painting. She was truly mesmerising and ‘(wo)man is a lyrical excessive beast.’ Indeed.

Pierre, somewhat weighed down by his achievement as author of over fifty books, read poems variously using Sufi philosophy in the context of the Gulf war (‘in the desert take your hands out of your pockets’) and in another sequence as commentary on the BP Gulf oil spill. These were a virtuoso example of the pithy and humane. We thank them very much for entertaining us so grandly.

Meanwhile the open micers had sharpened their pencils for the new year to give us a host of varied readings. Kate celebrated Seamus Heaney, who sadly passed away this week at the very young age of 74, while Pierre revealed what a thoroughly good bloke he was to have ‘more than a couple of pints with.’ We hope Remi is wrong about the dead not mattering in Heaney’s case.

Surprise special performer, visiting Paris unbeknownst to us, was Jem Rolls. Fresh from 21 days of sell out gigs in Edinburgh, Jem has us screaming at the new English History syllabus, the birds who used to be dinosaurs, and Porky, who aint Porky no more. Catch him next week, when it will be our pleasure to welcome him to the Paris Lit Up stage again for an extended spot.

Taking Pierre’s words that ‘the literal existence of the thing does not get lost in translation,’ were Jason, who has nearly finished translating the poetry of Gherasim Luca and gave us ‘a thousand mental tattoos,’ and Victor reading one of Flaubert’s letters in both English and French, in which he is ‘trying to sleep, but gentlemen vomit.’ Nice.

Missy pleaded for us not to make fun of Paris. Jenna was busy being a good caterpillar girl (isn’t that a Cure song?). James, in what was his penultimate appearance at Open Mic (boo), wanted to ‘baptise the floor.’ Stephen reminded us ‘she’s not dancing for you.’ Kevin told us about getting our marks back at school. Bill asked ‘what makes you so superior with your life of plenty?’ Michael feared the ‘coin trick of capital.’

Winona explained herself as not ‘a knock off Pocahontas’ and presumably is in Paris as it’s ‘hard to go home when your house is made of bones.’ David gave us some of his pigeon poems, about the kind of birds who ‘start building neon signs in their minds,’ and then there was fruit. Jason was bleeding tomatoes inside, in August, alone on vacation and Chloe reversioned the Persephone myth with pomegranate as the colour of melancholy.

Talking of old fruit, the night was rounded off by the wonderful Troy York: ‘when I look at the mountains I go crazy,’ a new poem, quickly overtaken by the usual, unquotable filth! Come back next week for a stimulating mix of sex, politics and greengrocery.


Pierre Joris has moved between the US, Great Britain, North Africa, France & Luxembourg for 50 years, publishing some 50 books of poetry, essays & translations. Recent publications include Meditations on the Stations of Mansur al-Hallaj (Chax Press, 2012) and Diwan Ifrikiya: The University of California Book of North African Literature (Volume 4 in the Poems for the Millennium series), co-edited with Habib Tengour. Forthcoming are Barzakh (Poems 2000-2012) from Black Widow Press, & The Collected Late Poems of Paul Celan, translated & annotated by Joris, from Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. Other recent works include Exile is My Trade: A Habib Tengour Reader, edited, introduced & translated by Joris (Black Widow Press, 2012), & Cartographies of the In-between: The Poetry & Poetics of Pierre Joris, edited by Peter Cockelbergh (Litteraria Pragensia Press, 2012), The Meridian: Final Version—Drafts—Materials by Paul Celan (Stanford UP, 2011), Canto Diurno #4: The Tang Extending from the Blade, (Ahadada Books, 2010), Justifying the Margins: Essays 1990-2006 (Salt Books, 2009) and Aljibar I & II (PHI, 2007-8). For more information:

Nicole Peyrafitte, is a Gasco-Rican pluridisciplinary artist born and raised in the Gascon-French Pyrenees. Her eclectic background & her experiences in shaping identity across two continents & four languages. Peyrafitte’s texts, voice, paintings, videos, & cooking were displays in, among others: Ninon; The Bi-Continental Chowder/La Garbure Transcontinentale; Whisk Don’t Churn. Her latest projects are “Basil King: MIRAGE,” a 2012 film she co-directed with Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, & “Bi-Valve: Vulvic Spave/Vulvic Knowledge,” a series paintings, bi-lingual texts & performance (Stockport Flats, 2013). Her solo or collaborative work has been presented and/or performed in such venues as The Metropolitan Museum, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the University of Bordeaux, Birbeck College at the University of London, Poets House NYC, The Poetry Project NYC, Festival Occitania in Toulouse, Estivada de Rodez, Festival Des Voix Vives, Sète France. For more information:

Photo Credit: Joseph Mastantuno

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