26 June 2007

Last Days in Studio, Thinking of Paris

At this moment, photographers are in the Chax Press studio, photographing ink & type & an image plate on the Vandercook Press for a story in a local magazine. Relocation specialists are moving throughout our building, with movers, assessing the logistics and possible costs of our move (being paid for by the city) which must happen by July 31. The City of Tucson has moved to buy our building from the state, put about 1.5 million into it to make it more structurally sound and bring it up to meet city building codes, and they have pledged that we will have the first right to move back in, in 18 months or so (we expect it will take longer), at costs that keep it affordable to "blue collar" artists and keep it as an "arts incubator." We look forward to the day we can move back in.

But I'm still thinking of Paris. Cynthia and I spent 11 days there, then 3 days in England, and have been back in Tucson for almost exactly one week. The images are in my head (the door at Reed House on Rue Chevreuse; the inside of Librairie Tschann on Blvd. du Montparnesse; the little shops all along Rue du Fauborg du Temple near our apartment for the time we were there; the street scene on Ile St. Louis; Vincent Broqua's laughing face (and his moving & delightful poem); Jean Jacques Poucel's singing face; Habib Tengour's generously friendly & deeply committed face; our view of the Eiffel Tower from our apartment window; and so much more). I think I've wanted those images just in my head, and to share them one-on-one with friends, so I have not blogged about it until now, and I don't know if I'm quite ready to blog about it yet. Almost a feeling that if I write it down it will be more distant from me, which I don't want; yet I know that's not usually the way the relationship of writing & memory works.

I have never felt as "at home" in a different place from my home as I did in Paris. I know in part this was because I was working there — translating Vincent Broqua's poems from French as he translated mine from English; sometimes collaborating with the others in our translation atelier: Cole Swensen, Sarah Riggs, Pierre Joris, Habib Tengour, Frederic Forte, Marie Borel, and Jean Jacques Poucel. I know in part the "at home" feeling was because Cynthia was with me, the first time away from home we've had in years for just the two of us. I know in part it was because other friends (Kathleen Fraser, Stacy Doris, Alice Notley, Cynthia Hogue) were there in Paris. I know in part it was because friends in the States (Linda Rosenfield, Mark Weiss) helped prepare me so well to be there. I know it was because we had a "lived-in" apartment belonging to poets, writers, scholars (Patrick Love & Safaa Fathy, thank you!) where we made many meals of baguette & fromage & fruit (framboise being the seasonal favorite for us) & vin rouge. I also know it was because of pre-ingrained images in the mind, so that when I anticipated being in Paris, I thought it would feel as if I had been there before, and it did. I know it is because Paris is so easily navigable, by foot, bus, metro, & in other ways. I know it was because we were able to relax somewhere, anywhere, after months of much stress having to do with our working location and its fate and our upcoming move. Whatever the reasons, I loved being in Paris and I want to return soon and often.

I don't have highlights of a trip that was all highlights. I mean, yes,the entire translation workshop, and the reading at the end of it, and the lunches & dinners that were part of it; but also a separate reading I gave with Pierre Joris & Jean Patrice Courtois for Double Change; but these are no more highlights than waking with Cynthia & making coffee & spreading marmalade on baguette in our apartment; no more than walking through Musee Marmotan and looking at all the Monet paintings there, enough art to look at for years. But of course also the Musee Picasso and the Louvre and the Grand Palais with the monumental Anselm Kiefer exhibition and the Musee Cluny and its unicorn tapestries, and the Musee d'Arte Moderne at the Beauborg (Centre Pompidou). Also a highlight to taste gateau au chocolat du Nancy at Fernand, and to visit Stacy Doris and her marvelous children in their apartment in Le Marais. And Sarah Riggs greeting us at the train station and taking us to our place and providing a welcome that set a great tone for all that was to follow. I'll also not forget eating the marvelous ice cream of Ile St. Louis. I'll never forget breaking into song with groups of people when the right combination of words popped out loud during the translation sessions. Nor the coffee at several places but particularly at what became our local morning stop, Le Goncourt Cafe. But perhaps what I remember most is walking the streets with Cynthia, stopping with her in a bookstore or museum or shop, and simply taking time together, time rarely found otherwise.

I owe many thanks to people for making this trip what it was: Sarah and Omar, Cole, Patrick, Safaa, Kathleen, Cynthia, Pierre, Vincent, Jean Jacques, Habib, Marie, Frederic, Alice, Mark, Jessi, all who came to my readings, the waiter at Goncourt Cafe, all the waiters at Fernand, Clare, Rhod, David (the last three of these from our last three days, which were in England, about which I'll post more soon). Thank you all, and others I have neglected to mention.

More posts to follow in the next few weeks on books in Paris, translating Vincent Broqua, visiting with David Miller in London, books in England from Equipage (Rod Mengham's press in Cambridge), visiting with artist-friends in Long Buckby, Kettle's Yard Gallery and House, and more.