Poets Live – Christophe Lamiot Enos, William Walrond Strangmeyer and Anne Talvaz
Review by Lucy Binnersley
Yes, spring has finally sprung. Yes, the parks are full with those enjoying the sun. Yes, it is one of the first glorious evenings that has graced Paris for a long, long time. And, umm… yes I’m underground. In the basement of Carr’s Pub to be exact. Not that I was complaining. For the poetry of the three featured poets at the latest PoetsLive reading was doing enough shining itself. As we move into spring, there seemed to be a theme of movement and relationships throughout the poetry on offer. Whether it be through physical, lyrical or spiritual movement, time was waiting for no poet. Not even those underground.
Christophe Lamiot Enos was the first poet up. Christophe read from his collection The Sun Brings (recently published by Corrupt Press). It is a book length sequence of poems about his relationship with his terminally ill mother. Christophe infuses what could be a heavy subject with a melancholic lightness. He has developed a unique style of musicality that glitters over his working memories. The device of dating the poems creates a sense of detachment, yet his cleverly simple choice of words and repetition to pattern them: ’1984. I send my mother a card’ adds a playful movement to them. Through this poem Christophe tells the story of how he sent his mother a postcard from a art gallery that he was visiting, “this from the heart, a card, to give you heart my mother….walk the walk from the card”. It was an elegantly touching poem that’s lyrical and physical movement echoed the movement through a life. Other phrases that stood out included, “a peace, not death can be reached” and “relationships in the way, always” – illuminating how relationships, like movement are inextricably linked to life. Yet, paradoxically expressing how lives can also be lost to the significance of movement and relationships.
Listen to Christophe read To My Mother
Next up was Anne Talvez. Reading poetry that recalled her travels through China and Brazil…. and Dinard, Anne perfectly vividly defines how poetry and travel-writing can be blended; as they are both concerned with not only a change of scenery, but also a change of consciousness. However, her poem ‘Carrefour’ humorously sums up that however far one travels, there are always comforting, and at times frustrating reminders of home. We are always at a crossroads. Talvez’s poems are all diffused with movement and a clever caressing of subtle, at times ironic humour. Anne,then went on to read a poem that had been influenced by a Gerard Richter painting Aunt Marianne. Like Richter’s other figurative paintings it is taken from a photograph – in this case a family snap of a shy teenage girl, proudly holding her baby nephew, the four-month-old Gerhard Richter. It is a glimpse of a moment of happiness, seen through a black chasm of history. Marianne was a schizophrenic, who would one day be sent to a mental institution, forcibly sterilised, then later starved to death in a euthanasia camp – part of a Nazi programme to exterminate the mentally ill. Anne’s poem is as haunting as the painting; “Now I give you/Now I don’t, Now I hold you/Now I don’t”, “Who knows who does the holding and who does the giving?” and “one day, thought will be forever”. It is a poem that compellingly lingers long after it has finished.
Listen to Anne read Lake Namtso, Tibet, 2006 in French and English
And last but by no means least, it was the turn of William Walrond Strangmeyer. William lists his main influences as ranging from science fiction, doo-wop and psychedelic music along with Poe, Larkin, Baudelaire and also Leonard Cohen, Bartok and Roy Orbison. Quite the eclectic bunch. You truly sense through his poetry how he brings so many of these threads of influences together (“I have been many things, many times, We have been many things, many times”). And he does this with a gloriously wry sense of humour and awareness (his poem about online dating is titled “Cumodgeon seeks Strumpet”. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.) There were numerous, Bob Dylanesque provoking profundities in William’s poems. A few moments that really stood out included, “in crumpled cages….cunning birds drown in song” “The body people come back as elephants, the intellectuals as parrots” “not all fixing is blood red” “those who have never suffered are the richest ones” and “seek your immortality and health, for you will be no happier for it”. There was a startling clarity and relevance through William’s work. And he performs with an entertaining flair that is refreshing. As refreshing as a spring day in Paris. And on that note, we emerged from the belly of Paris into the fading light… just before it began to rain again.
Listen to William read My True Stories
Christophe Lamiot Enos was born in Beaumont-le-Roger, France and spent over fifteen years in English-speaking countries. He now lives in Paris and is maître de conférences at the University of Rouen. He’s had two literary essays and seven verse narratives published in France and elsewhere, including four by Flammarion, Paris, in the “Poésie” collection directed by Yves di Manno. On April 16 he will be launching, The Sun Brings, his first collection of poems in English, just out from corrupt press.
William Walrond Strangmeyer was born in Virginia, grew up in New York and New Jersey, where he went to Rutgers University. He has worked in many different fields of endeavor, including Palisades and other amusement parks as a caller, as well as banks, book stores, the cinema, the theater, door-to-door vacuum cleaner sales, restaurants, insurance sales, taxi driving, telephone sales, warehouses and as a tour guide — around the U.S. and in Copenhagen, Athens, Crete, London and Switzerland. Now a thirty-five-year resident of Paris, he continues to earn his living as an English language trainer and translator. His main influences are science fiction, doo-wop and psychedelic music along with the usual Eliot, Pound, Wallace Stevens, Poe, Catullus, Larkin, Elroy, Doctor Seuss, Forugh Farrokhzad, Baudelaire and also Emmylou Harris, Roy Jones Jr., Stoya, Leonard Cohen, Fedor Emilianenko, Bartok, Rodney Crowell, Nolan Strong, Leroy Griffin and Roy Orbison. Others come and go.
Anne Talvaz was born in Brussels in 1963, and studied literature and languages in France. She spent several years in China and Brazil, and currently lives near Paris. She writes in French and has published three poetry collections: Imagines, 2002, Panaches de mer, lithophytes et coquilles, 2006, and Pourquoi le Minotaure est triste, 2010. She is also the author of an essay/novel on Lina Heydrich, Ce que nous sommes (2008) and a travel book about her experiences in China. She has translated poetry for many years from English and Spanish into French, and from French into English, most of it published in magazines and anthologies. Books include John Ashbery’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, Nina Karacosta’s Previous Vertigos, and Pansy Maurer-Alvarez’s Ant-Small and Amorous. An English translation of Katana by Marie Etienne is due to be published by Ravenna Press this year