Last wintery Thursday eve, the safe haven of the Paris Lit Up Open Mic night was visited by Irish wordsmith Dónall Dempsey, the man with the second-best hair in the anglophone poetry scene, whose wild imagination inspired us throughout the night and ensured that our readers kept their words flowing till the early morning!
René kicked us off with Cedar Grove a song about orcs, nerdy hobbies and psychosis. Storyspinner Ethan disappointed us with his title Dueling Eskimos, but not his beautiful evocation of the magical power of words. VirginInès sung to us about A Place in Kenya while David Leo Sirois presented his antecedent to his famous pigeon poems, the plant poems, with To a stock of flowers outdoors in September. Visiting luminary Janice told us a tale of a Beauty and the Beast and reminded us that “The sun is not a god”, and Kate’s storytelling demonstrated the quality of the entries we’ve been receiving in this last week of the PLU Shorts Contest – a good reminder to submit now if you haven’t yet! To cap the first round off, we had a duo of English-speaking Frenchmen: François whose beautiful guitar and singing enchanted us almost as much as Vlad’s Korg microsynth-fueled Melody for Nobody threw us into an unearthly groove.
Then, without further ado, self-proclaimed “hairy Irishman” and poetry wizard extraordinaire Dónall Dempsey wasted no time stripping down to regale us with his very own Autopsy, delivering the short and bittersweet Apple of my eye, and the beautiful tragedies that go unheard when Snow Falls. His ode to blackberry-sticky summer sex Preserve, the hastily-discarded clothes in Crazy Loneliness Hijacks Memory of a Beautiful Girl and Clothes Have No Memory, and the happy memories of When they made you, they broke the mold turned the heat in the room right up. With a pair of Pink High Heeled Shoes used in the Best Time Honoured Way he had us ready to laugh when he simply said Thank you. Your Littlest Smile, he told us, brought him through a heart attack, and with Old English he told us of unrequited love in Hwaet Sceal Ic Singan, Sing Me Frumschaft, but finally he brought us back to the realm of the real… or at least internet-real, with Our Avatar.
Thankfully, this first set was recorded, so that we can bring it to you here via the magic of Dónall-vision:
Round 2 began with a double-bill of men with their hearts on their sleeves: Christian began with vindicating Le droit a la paresse while Ray Knight rapped about Brighter Days at the end of a dark tunnel.
The stage warmed up by such raw honesty, our Irish bard Dónall Dempsey took to the stage once again, with a quieter set: Singing the River and Welcome brought the flowing sounds of the Own na Buidhe to Paris, while with Me Mam’s Mind he shared his childhood. Through Never so alone as here and No Direction we shared his sorrows, while The Smell of Purple and I Feel Pretty…Oh, So Pretty made us smile with the calm joy of parenthood. Ending on As Gaeilge, his bilingual gift of love, Dónall truly stole our hearts to take back with him across the channel…
Once again, everything is presented to you by Part 2 of Dónall-vision:
Following up from Dónall, we had this coming week’s featured reader, Thomas, with his poem Boy, paving the way for Maria and virginYoann to share their poems in French with us: Le soleil s’illumine and Sans titre. Funny man Fred talked us through the sad life of spam messages and his future career as a poltergeist, and Amrutha read us a beautiful piece in Marathi whose title she translated as See, then, if you remember me. We had next a woman who wished to be known only as Marie Tudor performing from one of Victor Hugo’s plays, inspiring Alison to come forward and share some De Musset. Finally, Kelly presented us with a Kaleidoscope of Colour, both in words and dress, to close off our second round!
Round 3: Hic Sunt Dragones!
As commonly happens at Paris Lit Up, when the night runs late and the poets don’t want to quit we enter Round 3, and the dragons come out to play…
First off the mark was David Leo Sirois, reading to us from the gospel of the Ferlinghetti to get us in that mad beat vibe, man. Then, in their PLU debut virgin two-man band Alarashtwo performed some of their tunes, including the crowd-pleasing Génération Ouais Ouais, and paving the way for metal-as-fuck Maxx to get some Closure with his fatherland. Regular Ed and virginRafik read us some of Latin lover Catullus’s afternoon delight to a Bossa Nova groove, prompting virginNico to take up the guitar for his original composition entitled Fuck you, dumb bitch. If music’s being played at Paris Lit Up, it is one man’s job to respond in kind, and DRNB is that man, with his smooth number Sweet Pea. We ended the night with a trio of poets, as virginsGonzalo and Henri read to us from César Vallejo and Arthur Rimbaud, and were joined by PLU host Jason who gave us his translation of Dream in Action by Romanian-French poet Gherasim Luca, ending the night’s antics at 1 am!
Dónall Dempsey is an Irish poet who writes from London and Southeast United Kingdom. He lives alone in London without even a cat! Dónall has read with John Cooper Clarke and Paul Durcan on Irish television and has made two radio programmes for RTE. As the RTE GUIDE so succinctly put it:
“the only way to read a Dónall Dempsey poem is to have it performed by the author.”
SONATA FOR POET AND COMPOSER was a radio collaboration performed by Dónall and the composer Jolyon Jackson. Dónall had stopped writing and performing for many a long year, but a recent head injury and paralysis caused him to confront this lapse and resume the mantle of poet. I guess if that’s what it took then that’s what it took. He is now manfully working his way through both paralysis and poetry and hopes to get out of one and enter the realm of the other. His Myspace profile is at http://www.myspace.com/donalldonall