Three fantastic poetry events this past week that seriously enhanced my appetite for the poetic form:

* the Russian-American poet Eugene Ostashevsky’s reading from “The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi” at Pushkin House, a fast, funny, and packed with multilingual play novel-in-poetry whose protagonists, a pirate and a parrot, are shipwrecked on a deserted island, where they try to communicate with indigenous people who do not exist – see the poet performing a short excerpt here.  I’m currently reading his previous book “The Life and Opinions of Dj Spinoza”, another gem of hilarious poems about the shortcomings of reason that Eugene graciously offered me when I had the privilege of meeting him for the first time for a cup of coffee at the RAA in February.

*the ICR London’s event dedicated to the avant-garde Romanian-French poet Benjamin Fondane, an experimentalist with a powerful lyric voice and also a highly original existential philosopher who tragically died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1944. The English publication of his poetry collection, ‘Cinepoems and Others’ and the philosophical essays, ‘Existential Monday’ by the New York Review of Books arrives with the force of a major literary event. I love the way his verse digresses and slides through systems of representation: “98 he rows desperately in a gondola / 99 he is perched on the mast of a ship / 100 his eyes blindfolded he runs / 101 on the moving escalator of a large department store / 102 runs before a distorting mirror slender and very tall / 103 in a second mirror squat obese / 104 in a third mirror, etc.”

*** the excellent “Poemusic” performance by Romanian multimedia poet Mugur Grosu who opened fEAST Theatre II at Willesden Green Library Centre, a 45 min consuming experience of spoken word and music flowing in sync. As Mugur kindly gave me his poetry sheets at the end of the show, I include here a few lines (Romanian language only) – a nostalgic reminder that we played the same children’s games in communist Romania: “la A mi-aminteam întâi de filmul / angela merge mai departe / nu știu de ce, nu-l văzusem / n-am văzut niciun film, n-aveam bani, dar știam o grămadă de titluri, / eram tobă de titluri (…) / privește-napoi cu angela / ocolul angelei în 80 de zile / angela misterioasă / 20.000 de leghe sub angela / lăsați-mă să angela! / vă place angela? / angela, ursul polar / angela, câine de circ / și angela se împușcă, nu-i așa?”

20 March 2017

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