Paris Lit Up Open Mic – Maiden Voyage
By JFMcG. Photos courtesy of Viola Manfra.
Paris Lit Up Open Mic took its maiden voyage last Thursday evening at the historic literary café Culture Rapide in the cutting edge neighborhood of Belleville, in Paris. With a no-nonsense, back-to-the-basics approach, readers were invited to express themselves freely with no bells or whistles, no time limits and in the joy and intimacy of friends, words and great poetry.
Some of the highlights of the evening included Melinda reading her heartwarming first-person account of motherhood with all the worries and revelations that it brings. Emily Ruck Keene (rigorously without any hyphens) slyly told of unspoken loves and pseudo-accidental physical contact with an unconventionally sexy stranger in the small spaces of Paris.
In the hospitable and up close and personal ambience created, Beatrice first improved a tale of an farmer who’s apples just wouldn’t grow… until he met a woman that made him believe, to then turn the audience into unwilling participants in two comedy sketches about foreigners in restaurants: we learned that it is impossible to get food in France and that Americans don’t speak Italian.
Victor (soon to present his histoire de la chanson française at Unstrung Letters) took advantage of the audience participation to soar through a Ginsburg piece about the dangers of inhalation with everyone chanting don’t smoke. don’t smoke. don’t smoke. don’t smoke. don’t smoke. don’t smoke. don’t smoke. don’t smoke. don’t smoke. don’t smoke.
New, experimental readings also from poet Kate Noakes listing the health risks of Paris’ street art graffiti (perfect with the myriad of colorful tags and stickers adorning the walls behind her), “classical” spoken word poetry with Antonia reciting the first piece she ever memorized and Melissa sharing some lost-but-found poems.
This evening seemed to be the perfect way to start this new experiment in international open mic readings: a historically important café, readers from five different countries, an intimate, attentive environment and open audience participation. Can’t wait to do it again, every Thursday, forever more.