Upstairs at Duroc – Launch of Issue 14
Review by Kate Noakes. Photographs by JFMcG and Viola Manfra.
Berkeley Books, one of the handful of anglophone bookshops left in Paris and a marvellous emporia of printed treasures, played host this week to the launch party for the new issue (number 14) of Upstairs at Duroc. Editor, Barbara Beck introduced five local-ish poets reading a selection of poems, including those from the magazine.
Margo Berdeshevsky, winner of probably the world’s longest-named book award (buy the magazine for 10 euros and read her bio if you want to see what I mean), read from her most recent meditative collection Between Soul and Stone. Her careful, measured delivery included the feisty Dear XXXX, which came from writing a postcard and includes ‘you loved me and hated my mind….I’m not marrying and I’m no-one’s child…I’m a fearless bitch…and I don’t know my name.’ Interestingly she read a slightly different version of her poem Dusk be Sung to that in the magazine, proving perhaps the old adage that poems are never really finished, just abandoned.
Before reading extracts from his long Whitmanesque poem Shelf, Rufo Qunitavalle read his two inclusions: the somewhat topical Ted Hughes, which with careful repetition queries the former British Poet Laureate’s subject matter; and the philosophical Ships in the Night and its consideration of human relations: ‘I listen to the big white fridge/and try to prise the two apart.’
Co-editor of Upstairs at Duroc, Kate Robinson, stood in for Sarah Riggs, who was unable to read from Manifolds and the temptingly titled Some Modifications of Male Nipples. Now if that doesn’t get you to buy the magazine, what will? Let me add that it is an experimental piece and thus the sort of thing Upstairs at Duroc are keen to publish, and leave you to discover why all for yourself.
Just published by corrupt press for the first time with poems in English, as opposed to his previous publications of French poetry, Christophe Lamiot Enos read from his collection The Sun Brings. It is a book length sequence of poems about his relationship with his terminally ill mother. I enjoyed the device of dating the poems and his simple, playful choice of words and repetition to pattern them: ‘1984. I send my mother a card’ which acts a structural device. You can next catch Christophe at Poets Live on April 16. Don’t miss him.
For Ian Monk, poetry is ‘the arrangement of sound….the knowledge of unknowing.’ He read his entire submission to the magazine, the rejected and the selected poems (from I’ve Just Eaten and Orange and from This Morning/Ce Matin), which employ either subtle rhyme or repetition for their uncompromising subjects: ‘hoping the bottle will pass by as soon/ as the onion’s sliced the pig bled’. He closed out the reading in fine style. Look out for him elsewhere and often.
I’m sitting down to enjoy the rest of the magazine now, which includes several fine photographs, so if you want to know more about the readers, their bios are below. If you want to submit for the next issue, the reading window opens on 1 October.
Featured readers bios
Ian Monk was born near London and now lives in Lille, France, where he works as a writer and translator of, among others, Georges Perec, Daniel Pennac, Raymond Roussel and Marie Darrieussecq. He became a member of the Oulipo in 1988. He has published books in English (Family Archaeology and Writings for the Oulipo), in French (Plouk Town and La Jeunesse de Mek-Ouyes), and both (N/S, with Frédéric Forte).
Sarah Riggs is the author of several books of poetry, including most recently, The Autobiography of Envelopes (Burning Deck, 2012) and 60 Textos (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010). She is currently working on a series of film poems based on texts by Virginia Woolf. Riggs lives in Paris, where she’s an integral member of the bilingual poetry collective, Double Change, and the director of Tamaas, a non-profit arts organization and teaches at NYU-in-France.
Christophe Lamiot Enos spent over fifteen years living in English-speaking countries before settling in Paris. He has published literary essays and a number of verse narratives, most of which came out in the “Poésie” collection headed by Yves di Manno at Flammarion, Paris. He writes both in English and French. He teaches at the University of Rouen and is a member of the « Passages XX-XXI » laboratory at the University of Lyon 2 and frequently collaborates with many French and American publications.
Margo Berdeshevsky, born in New York City, had a first career as an actress before becoming a writer. Her newest poetry collection is Between Soul and Stone (Sheep Meadow Press), and her But a Passage in Wilderness was also published by Sheep Meadow Press. Her book of short stories, Beautiful Soon Enough (illustrated with her montages,) received Fiction Collective Two’s American Book Review/Ronald Sukenick/ Innovative Fiction Award (University of Alabama Press); other honors include the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America, 8 Pushcart Prize nominations, 2 Pushcart “special mention” citations, the Chelsea Poetry Award. Forthcoming: a multi-genre novel titled Vagrant.
Rufo Quintavalle was born in London in 1978, studied at Oxford and the University of Iowa and now lives in Paris. He is the author of Make Nothing Happen (Oystercatcher Press, 2009), Dog, cock, ape and viper (corrupt press, 2011) and Liquiddity(Oystercatcher Press, 2011). From 2009 until 2012 he was poetry editor for the award-winning webzine, Nthposition, and before that was on the editorial board for Upstairs at Duroc. His work has been widely published in print and online journals around the world and has been nominated for both the Michael Marks Award and the Pushcart Prize. A new collection, Weather Derivatives, is due out from Eyewear Publishing in Spring 2014.