Friday, 29 January 2010
1er projet de loi : interdiction dans Paris et dans toute ville de plus de 5 000 habitants d'utiliser des véhicules à moteur autre qu'électrique ou à air comprimé, et en général, tous véhicules produisant des émanations non respirables en tout ou partie.
2e projet de loi : obligation de conserver dans une ville au moins vingt mètres carrés d'espaces verts par personne. On entend par espaces verts des herbages, des taillis, des buissons, des massifs d'arbres, etc. Mais on ne considérera pas une voie de circulation bordée d'arbres comme un espace vert.
I would go further than Vian though. My worry is that the growth of the electric car (give it ten years or so, the time it takes for the price of petrol to go through the roof) will prevent people from seeing that the car itself is the problem. Sure an electric car would be cleaner and quieter than a combustion one but it would still be dangerous, would still block traffic for buses, taxis and delivery vans and would still be equipped with a horn that people would use to celebrate the victory of their national team at football. And while electric cars would be better for the environment what would be best for the environment would be for millions of people to realize that they do not actually need to own a ton of metal, glass and plastic.
But for that to happen will require not just new laws and better public transportation but a change in people's mentalities and an abandoning of the myths that the car embodies. Because if people were to consider the question rationally I don't think anyone in Paris would own a car. The time spent in traffic jams, the time spent looking for a parking spot, the money spent on registration, maintenance and fuel; all of this ought to have persuaded Parisians long ago to abandon their cars. It is quicker and cheaper to travel by public transport, to cycle or to walk. And if you don't like being exposed to other people or the weather then take a taxi. A new car costs somewhere in the region of 10.000 euros just to buy. Add on loan repayments, taxes and fuel and you could take a taxi to and from work for the next five years, by which time your car will have broken down and you will have to have it repaired. The appeal of the car is irrational and if one is to undermine that appeal one must attack not the car itself but the subconscious process that makes us consider certain human desires - autonomy, spontaneity, self-determination, family unity, sexiness - to be embodied in the car. I can feel a poem coming on.
Thursday, 28 January 2010
Happy Birthday Mr President
The Paris literary journal UPSTAIRS AT DUROC is proud to invite you to the
Launch Reading for Issue #11
Come hear exciting new work by four of our contributors:
JÉRÔME MAUCHE JENNIFER K. DICK
RICHARD TOOVEY BONNY FINBERG
At: Berkeley Books of Paris , 8 rue Casimir Delavigne , 75006 Paris, Métro Odéon.
Thursday, January 28, 2010, 7 PM.
Jérôme Mauche is the author of Électuaire du discount (Le Bleu du ciel, 2004), as well as of many other books and chapbooks, including Le Placard en flammes, La Maison Bing and Fenêtre, porte et façade. He directs the poetry collection "Grands soirs" with Les Petits Matins publishers, and curates reading series for the Musée Zadkine and the Ménagerie de Verre, in Paris .
Jennifer K. Dick, from Iowa , is the author of Fluorescence ( Univ. of Georgia Press , 2004), the chapbook Retina/Rétine (Estepa Editions, Paris, 2005) and the BlazeVox eBook Enclosures. Her poetry translations appear in the anthology New European Poets (Graywolf, 2008) and in journals. Several of her translations of Jérôme Mauche's prose poems appear in Upstairs at Duroc's Issue 11.
Richard Toovey is an architect and translator who has lived in Berlin since 1989. He helped found Bordercrossing Berlin magazine, chairs the Creative Writing Group e.V. and assists with the Poetry Hearings festival. His poetry, which has been commended in the Arvon Competition and nominated for the Forward Prize, appears most recently in Orbis, The Salzburg Review and The SHOp.
Bonny Finberg's chapbook of short stories, How the Discovery of Sugar Produced the Romantic Era (Sisyphus Press) was featured on the DVD 5 GuysRead Finberg. Her work appears in Evergreen Review, The Brooklyn Rail, four Unbearables Anthologies, Lost and Found: New York Stories from Mr. Beller's Neighborhood and Best American Erotica. She has been translated into French, Hungarian and Japanese.
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
and Moody's graded Iceland junk.
Friday, 22 January 2010
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Friday, 15 January 2010
But even when he bites off smaller chunks of material the result is rarely bland; so the potentially treacherous territory of an old man talking about his allotment which one imagines 999 out of 1000 poets would turn into something cringe-worthy becomes in Roberts' hands a meditation on the terrifying power of the earth indiscriminately to recycle whatever we put into it.
This is the open, naked girl
ripped from a magazine left
on the allotments. My digging
was delayed by rain, I watched her
mouth fill up with water,
and her legs, funnelling.
She held a look of ecstasy
as I spaded her into the mud
This is the child who was
beaten lifeless, left in a quiet river,
washed up on to the edge of the soil.
I had seen her running away
with the man whose cold hands
were printed on her neck when I found her.
Within a day she was part of my soil.
Her crop was young, fresh and green.
The ending of this poem - "I am the man who can tame the earth,/can make it rise through/my little patch of ground" - makes it clear that he is talking too about his own craft; about the greedy, omnivorous appetite of the poet and of the mess, the ugliness and the horror that goes into creating the "smokeless fuel for the quiet man's night".
There were only two false notes for me in this collection: the long, final poem "The Hookses" (one wonders if this was a filler insisted on by his editor; at any rate it seems slight and over-narrative and stylistically the use of white space and thin lines seem more like experiments with the tab and return keys than intrinsic parts of the poem) and the first section of "Simone and the Unknown Friend" where Roberts imagines the French philosopher and mystic Simone Weil playing arcade games in Torquay. The tone here is silly and one wishes he had started with section two as the rest of this poem is first rate. There is something slightly patronising too, I find, in the supposition that British readers will need to have a foreign figure stuck in a British landscape if they are to recognize her. In Roberts' defense, when this book was written in 1993 there was no Google and virtually no internet so perhaps he was worried that readers would not know who Weil was and would skip over what is an important part of the collection. But there were surely less goofy ways to introduce her than this.
These few quibbles aside this is an excellent book and confirms the opinion I had after reading the magisterial Corpus (and which had wavered slightly after reading the good but not stunning Burning Babylon and The Half Healed) that Michael Symons Roberts is one of the finest poets currently working in the British Isles.