Thursday, September 29, 2011

International Film Festival in Soreze?

El Ambulante – The Peddler, the story of an itinerant movie maker who travels from village to village in Argentina awakening dreams, the first offering of the local CCIF intercultural film festival here in France. A heartwarming small movie that was screened at Chateau Padies this afternoon and was followed up with an al fresco dinner in the courtyard.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reading Aloud

The other night I was invited, along with Glenda, Anne and John, to Durfort to British Anne and Peter’s house for a “poetry reading”. Hey, I though, I can do that!

There are regular poetry readings in Sonoma County back home in California, where I have read at the Lit Cafe and the Literary Guild's readings in the City Council Chambers at City Hall in Healdsburg, and at the Valona Deli in Crockett. I have read my poetry in locations as various as Shakespeare & Co in Paris, the Café Kafka in Vienna, a family re-union at Roaring River State Park in the Ozarks, and Fort Casey on Whidbey Island.

I am used to keeping to the time limit, to sharing the stage with other writers, to listening respectfully to other people's work and applauding equally for each reader. I looked through my poems and picked out two new ones I was interested in trying on a new audience and an old favorite, requested by Glenda. I pulled out my new, acid green scarf, put on a nicer pair of shoes, fluffed my curls and packed up a chilled bottle of rosé to contribute to the pizza dinner.

We carpooled over; Durfort is the next little village to Soreze and is a lovely walk of an afternoon, but the path is a bit steep and dark to walk home at night. We parked by the church and made our way along the sky blue ribbon of water in the street to the worn, sea green door, rang the old school bell and mounted the double spiral staircase to the second floor.

We were the only literary audience for the evening; it was simply the four of us from Soreze, along with Anne and Peter. They had set up a table facing the balcony and covered it with some twenty-five poetry books that they have with them in what is mostly a summer house for them in Durfort. Peter had put on a pressed white shirt and festive vest, Anne a nice black sweater. We chose numbers out of a bowl to decide reader order, toasted each other's health with a glass of Kir (French cocktail made with a measure of crème de cassis, blackcurrant liqueur, topped up with Blanquette de Limoux, the Lanquedoc region lower cost answer to Champagne) to kick off the proceedings and began the first of three rounds of reading.

John Norton (no relation) read from his poetry book, Air Transmigra, just out from Ithuriel's Spear small press in San Francisco. (click here to read it on Google Books) The painting on the cover as well as the portrait of the poet on the back cover are by Anne Subercaseaux.

I read each of my three poems in turn. Glenda brought a well worn poetry compendium and read selections from it.

Anne and Peter had bookmarked some favorites to share and we each dipped into the books on the table, hearing from Edward Lear, Rudyard Kipling, Shakespeare, James Joyce, Walt Whitman and more.

We ate pizza and drank wine and then went back to reading aloud.

I love sharing books with family and friends by passing them on and/or reading the good parts out to them. I started reading to my kids when they were tiny. My Dear Daughter is reading "Swiss Family Robinson" to the Corn Tiger as his bedtime story, started when he was about a week old.

I think a lot of us who come to this region of France are attracted to a simpler life here. I'll take an evening reading aloud in the parlor with friends over a brain branding session in front of commercial TV any day.

One of the poems I read, which is becoming a crowd favorite and was published this year in
CALYX, A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, in their Winter 2010 issue, is "Warm Ripe Figs", which you will find below.

Remember to read aloud, especially to those kids!

Warm Ripe Figs

You’ve long been attracted to the young ones
with firm pink flesh, with just a hint of green
so perfect and unblemished there on display
only to taste at first bite the acrid 
bitterness of fruit picked too soon.

When will you learn to reach
for the wrinkled ones
with just a bit of heft
with the right drooping sag
those that have been 
hanging on
soaking up sun
unnoticed by bird or man
until filled with a mature
musky sweetness.

Pluck a warm ripe fig.
Put your nose close.
Pull the flesh open.
Stick your tongue in.

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