Monday, October 25, 2010

Jennifer K Dick on video: Poetry readings & an interview

For those of you who want to hear a bit of whatever, see a bit of whatever--here goes. I must say, I stumble, I fall, I blurrrrrr a bit in some of these, but here are a few videos that seem to be out in the universe, mostly of work that I have been doing and which is only going to start being sent off this fall. Yep, stuff from the Orph/Eury collection-in-process. Hope that you will be forgiving of the stumbling in the readings! Here is the first, of one of the poems: or try clicking the photo which I think I have linked directly to the video that was so kindly posted by Laura Mullen (click her name to go to her poet's page homesite) The bright of Spoken word is certainly exciting to watch!!! These first two of these are from the VIMEO video site run/hosted by Laura Mullen who filmed these just last week in Paris at David Barnes' Spoken Word (click to go to their blog & participate in future events) up at Cabaret Populaire/Culture Rapide on the high hill above Belleville (103 r Julien Lacroix). Here is the second of these: and again I think that if you want to click the photo, it should take you directly there:
Also from the same series of poems in process is this the second of the videos from the gorgeous Avol's books bookstore (click their name to go to the store!!!) in Wisconsin from last spring (April) when I was in Madison visiting Sean Standish. or click the still here for a direct connection to the video (this one has a lot of stumblings in it, and then gets cut off.... but ah well.)

Here is the first vid from Avol's. In this, I am reading a few poems from Fluorescence and from the New Pony anthology that had just come out. or click directly on the photo--it should link you to the Youtube video directly.
Finally, for anyone who has not seen it, this is the Youtube video, thus a shortened version, of the interview with Cole Swensen. It was completed originally in a long version at The Continental Review:

Mulhouse: arrival & setting up house (sept 1 to now!) Jonathan Regier & JKD road trip!

One might say that moving is a long, arduous process. One friend told me that on some list of "traumatic things" that we do willingly in life, moving ranked in the top three as a life stressor, alongside breaking up or losing someone. So, losing Paris is what this has been. But also gaining a lot of room to breathe & a perspective on other options here in France outside Paris living. When I received the letter informing me that I had been hired here at Uha (Université de Haute Alsace) it is true that I was of two minds--ecstatic because I wanted the job and it would be in "real" topics--lit and civ--subjects I can really get into and love working on with French students. But of course part of me felt the immediate sting of leaving. I had been living in Paris since 1999, and had also lived there in the mid-1990's. My only forays into living out of Paris while in France were some time spent in Lyon and the 3 months at the residency in La Napoule--where I knew I was only temporarily away from the city, and where the sea lapped up practically against the door (who doesn't love that?!?) So, I thought, Mulhouse. My one visit at that point had been for the audition, where I stayed in a clean, efficient hotel B&B. One of those slot-you-into the space generic places that are cheap & excellent for overnights if on business. It was off of the Porte Jeune shopping mall place (a kind of red eyesore) and underneath the Tour de l'Europe (another eyesore--with evidence about halfway up of a fire in an apartment and yet the apartments around that burnt-out window remain occupied--as in these 3 pictures). My vision was rather drab of the town.

So, I got online and started looking a bit into here--and found a lot of things that made me excited to simply discover another place. There were lovely parts of the town, & many more things to do than it had appeared on my one quick visit (in the rain & for the interview). And so, thrilled about the job, & sure that it would do me good to force myself out of the habits I lived in in Paris, I decided to get a place in Mulhouse and give it a go.

This is where "the pleasures of Mulhouse" really do begin. Because space is scarce in Paris and plentiful in Alsace. There is a lot of greenery in the center of town and when I came to look at places, I found that there were lots of spacious ones near cafés, grocery stores, bars and centers to see movies or go out with friends. In other words, Mulhouse would be a little adventure, though certainly one that is much sleepier than the urban racous riots of Paris. A little less craze... not necessarily bad.

New outlook, despairingly pricy moving costs for movers and I decided "ROAD TRIP". And with the great great help of all my friends: Anne K, Jérôme M, Sylvie and Carole B, Carole P, Patricia, George V, and MORE! I got everything into the rental van from Rent à car and Jonathan Regier & I headed off into the night with out map, mappy itinery and all giggles. We left around 10pm, so the traffic around Paris was quasi-inexistent. We drove & talked & watched our signs. Around 2h30 in the morning, debating whether to rest someplace or keep going for the all-nighter experience, we stopped for treats at a truck stop only to learn--between the truckers playing video games, lounging on massage chairs, or playing games where you shoot things with a plastic gun--that we had missed a turn awhile back and were now in Macon. (photo: me holding up map saying "what!?!?!!! An HOUR south of our route at 2:30am!!!") OOPS! So, more giggles & we decided it was a sign that we should STOP. JR had never had the "pleasure" of seeing an F1--so, since there was one at the next autoroute turnaround (which we had to take to get back on the route going in the opposite direction of where we were!), we stopped in there. A voice through a loudspeaker let our van through the protection gates (always a reassuring feature of F1 and Etap motels when one is trekking around with one's life in a car!) and then autochecked in without seeing a soul anywhere. Dead tired, we tucked ourselves into our very very green and little twin beds--after a few more photos while laughing in our overexhausted state (wise to have stopped!). In the morning (pictured here below) we forced ourselves up early &--unshowered, as that would take too long, though after the physical work of moving the night before & our drive we were getting kinda ripe or at least looking worse for the wear--we caffinated & breakfasted (note that the first pic is pre-coffee, second is after a few cups!) at the F1 countertop then headed back round north of our Macon detour. It was lovely, in fact, to drive in the early morning and to see the countryside as we approached Mulhouse. As we drove into town we had lots of laughs as we spotted the first commerces--and their very Germanic / Alsacian names: as here Le Schweitzer! There are also many lovely, colorful buildings (mine is red, but here are some of the neighboring ones: baby blue and reds, and one of JR in front of a yellow building). It is quite easter-egg cheery, and I am certain that mid-winter, with the grey and snow, it will in fact be so much more cheerful here than in Paris. (Thus I encourage all of you there in Paris to come here for a visit!!!) Everything got tossed into the apartment, boxes all over, so we were ready for a shower. But, alas, the hot water had not yet heated up! We were not ready to be ice cubes so we returned the unharmed van (pics of joy here!) in Dornach (a suburb--but about 25 minutes walk max back to the center of town) and then strolled around in the bright day.Back in the center of town, we continued our explorations through the pedestrian area of Mulhouse, enjoying beers in the sun at the Place de la Réunion, where we visited the inside of the Temple, and then had yet more beers (the driving was over, after all!!!). Over the days following, we also checked out the great Libanais resto on the corner by me (here we are below in photos seated on the little terrasse which is pretty much in the street) and a few other spots. We spotted some of the nearby wall art (car because this is the city with the massive automobile museum--yet to be visited) and halted briefly before some random shops and along curved streets (pictures here below). We also admired the old Synagogue, which I look out on from my windows. (Here is picture of the front of Synagogue, followed by one where my building can be seen on the left and the back of the synagogue is partially visible at the right): My tram stops at Porte Haute which is by a fittingly poet-related bar called Le Bateau Ivre! But moving is a long, slow investment process, where my role is that of the leaking bucket--new insurance, hookup fees, deconnect fees, etc etc. The long, slow road to being able to buy any furniture! Thus the lovely temp "sofa" was the sleeping bag and featherbed that JR had had as a bed.: Come Oct 1st & "payday", Stephanie, Cynthia & I had a trip to Freiburg's Ikea. It was my first ever experience in Ikea. Giant, blue & yellow box that, once inside, felt like it would never end! We picked up a few things & I got furniture ordered for delivery--shelves and couches! Then I waited for another week & a half before the delivery came. It was supposed to include putting together of the big, red couch but the 2 German deliverymen said "No" & then we argued & it was all me being irrational at the explicable / predictable inability to communicate across 3 languages (German, French & English--my version of the last two, & their version of German & English). They kept saying "Not putting togeher. Sign here, & we go". I tried to explain I had gotten the delivery with a "putting the couch together" agreement, but they would not budge. I pleaded saying in my own broken English "Me, just one person" as if that said everything about the entire helplessness of my situation. But they threatened to take it all away again so I signed and sighed and then there I was. And Freiburg's Ikea helpline? Not accessible to me, a non-German speaker. So, suddenly I found I had "furniture" and yet I did not.

I had gigantic cardboard boxes filled with promises of furniture that only someone who had other someones to help them put them together could make emerge out of the cardboard into a lifeform representing couch, shelves, couch. Despair. At this point, a month and a half into the moving process, I just thought "I give up".

But then I put out a distress call to the lecturers who I have been spending time with and was SAVED! Within less than a half hour (now, if that is not a change from Paris!) Tom and then Lauren came by to help. Or rather, I think it was more that I helped Tom--while Lauren built a CD rack all by her lonesome (I have the pride to say I also managed that yesterday--these smallish tasks for those of you who are endowed with the gift of building, well, we who are not endowed with such gifts cherish our little ability to construct the pre-fab shelving! I must say, it is an accomplishment, if only a small one!) Within a few hours, there were the red and white couches and a blue CD rack all working!!! And then, off to Le Mans & then Paris I went for a conference then reading event. So, the other shelves remained stacked in the middle of my room. Until this weekend when Carole B was here on vacation and I put her to work (so kind of me, eh? No, really, she volunteered). Again, in little over an hour we got the 4 larger bookcases up, and then last night after she had headed back to Paris I finished the 2 other CD racks and a smaller bookshelf. Here, you can see the process as it has emerged. The "home" in the making. My own experience of what gets made fun of in that old "Choose Life" speech at the start of Trainspotting. Yep, DIY moments of my middle aged self. Ah well, in some ways I guess I am a conformer. But hey, it is going to make it easier for me to find the books, and now I have great couches to lounge and write on. So, for anyone wanting to see my home: here are a few pics.

Uha / Mulhouse Poetry Club hosted by Yann Kerdiles

Our wonderful Dean of Studies, Yann Kerdiles (pictured here), in the FLSH building works hard to make everyone remember the value of poetry, not only for poetry itself or to promote any one author, but for its eternal international musicality as it crosses borders and languages.

Thus he organizes, once a month, a lovely evening entitled "POETRY CLUB" where students, teachers, people from the community, friends of friends gather and share work of their own or other poets in numerous languages. I was quite honored to begin my life here as new tenured faculty by being invited to be a guest reader at the Poetry Club in September, where a lovely crow showed up for treats and drinks and an evening of readings including my own. I learned that the most languages ever represented at a Poetry Club event was SEVENTEEN! (I remain agog at that) but the evening I read there were certainly a fair number, from English and French, to Berber, Arabic, Chinese, Esperanto and more! When is the next event? The 10th of NOVEMBER (in the room above the Cybercafé inside the RestoU in case anyone is in Mulhouse and wants to go!) and focused on UKRAINIAN poetry! This month's was featuring a work based on a voyage to POLAND. Here are a few pics from the eve in September, where I was the honorary guest and had the great pleasure of meeting and becoming acquainted with the Mulhouse poetry scene!
Snacks galore! Everyone meets everyone thanks to our kind and dynamic host. So we chat with new acquaintances in a variety of langauges while munching on treats catered by the UHA: After, Yann gives his intro to the evening as we settle down in our places. The crowd is warm and interested it seems in whatever the evening might bring to them...

I was very honored to be part of the evening and read a few of the series of Orph/Eury poems which have been translated by the talented Christophe Marchand-Kiss (French poet residing in Paris). Since he could not be there to read the French, and I did not wish to read and have the work filled with my accent, Noelle Cuny--uha professor of English who I have been delighted to be getting to know week by week as we share office space--was kind enough to come over to the Poetry Club and do a great reading of the French texts off the cuff! It was lots of fun.
Then, my part outta the way, I was so happy to sit back with everyone else and listen to so many languages and poems, some accompanied by music, wafting over us.

The readings included one in esperanto (I have now heard him read twice and feel quite guilty to have not gotten his name yet, but will add it here when I do!!!) :

Then here are some guys who are from the local Berber cultural society who played music behind a reading in Berber by the women pictured just afterwards.

Here again (below) we see Yann, constantly helping everyone adjust the microphones and getting them into the groove! I cannot recall in fact the language of this reader (sorry, the event was in Sept) but I like very much the picture pre-performance of him getting into position.

An evening of all-that-poetry can do would not be complete without a little SLAM! This young man came to share some of his slam work in French and to let everyone know about a new poetry slam scene which is trying to increase its membership and visibility in Mulhouse.

He was not the only French reader, here are a pair of students who did a reading with music: a clarinet for one piece and even, for another, a mouth harp!

... And then, the soirée comes to its close but so many people still want to read and to listen. So, as everyone filters out into the full moon night, one of the readers who is just visiting and so wanted to read some poems in Arabic stands under a lamppost to share a few of the poems before everyone heads home with the music of these languages braiding together in various rhythms in their minds.
A lovely eve--and how funny, now that it is getting chilly out, to think we were wearing sandals and summer dresses (well some of us at least) only a little over a month ago!