Tuesday 30 June 2015

Reading from French translations of Fauverie at Maison de la Poésie in Paris with Valérie Rouzeau

On June 13th I gave my first reading from Fauverie in Paris, at the Maison de la Poésie. I was honoured to share the event with Valérie Rouzeau, my favourite contemporary French poet, and even happier that she translated the poems I read. She is well known for the verve and inventiveness of the language and the wordplay in her poems so I am lucky to have her as a translator. Susan Wicks has translated Valérie's books Pas Revoir (Cold Spring in Winter) and Vrouz (Talking Vrouz) in superb bilingial editions published by Arc's Visible Poets' series. Cold Spring in Winter / Pas Revoir was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize. I urge you to read them.

I illustrated my reading at the Maison de la Poésie with images. Here is a king vulture's head. It's a sacred bird, a god to Amazonian tribes. I think I must be exclaiming how old Margot and N'golo are – about 50 now – the couple that I visit in the zoo and who feature in both my books The Zoo Father and Fauverie. My poem 'Self-Portrait with King Vultures' draws on the extraordinary encounter I had with a baby king vulture in the zoo nursery, the baby god struggling to stand and fluff up his wingstubs in a child's playpen. Thanks to the Maison de la Poésie for the photo.

The day after our reading Valérie and I went to Vincennes Zoo to see Aramis, the black jaguar who stars in Fauverie and who graces its cover. It was the first time Valérie had gone to a zoo and I'll never forget her reaction to the herd of sixteen giraffes in the distance!