Baudelaire with Graham Fawcett and Sue Aldred

What a treat it was to hear Graham and Sue give an eye-opening account of this often-misunderstood poet of Paris, yes, but also of the sky, of lust, pleasure, anger and disgust… Canonic translations, mostly by¬†Edna St. Vincent Millay, offered the small select and very engaged audience a glimpse of the dreamer, the lover, the iconoclast, and someone with a definite, if not frequent, twinkle in his eye. We also heard how he became fascinated by Edgar Allan Poe, so much so that he translated many of the American’s works into French, and we discussed other influences on the French poet, Shakespeare’s in particular. As an art critic in his earlier years, visual arts also had a bearing on his view of the world and he in turn influenced later poets, T S Eliot in particular.

We admired Graham and Sue’s mastery of French in both poetry and prose, which highlighted the musicality of the texts with their crescendos, chiaroscuro and dynamic undulation of sounds and moods. Wonderful.

I in particular was delighted that with his Baudelaire Graham completed for me his Seven Olympians cycle (Ovid, Chaucer, Byron, Pushkin, Dickinson and Neruda). If you’ve missed any or indeed you wish to hear any lecture again, please look at grahamfawcett.co.uk

Events

‘Proper’ summer is finally here and, while I’m reluctant to start thinking about autumn, I am inevitably and joyfully beginning to plan the first event of the ‘new term’. The first thing I did was to look back at all the in-words events from the very first one in January 2017, and I realised that over five years I hosted 49 readings, including a number of lectures by Graham Fawcett. 49! What shall I do for the 50th? I’m thinking that, although it would limit the numbers in the audience, I would really love to have an in-person event at the West Greenwich Library, like ‘in the old days’. And you never know, I may even be able to get to grips with ‘hybrid’…. Of course, it will depend of many factors, and as soon as I can, I shall post a date if not a full programme.

I love the new animation at the top of my homepage. Thanks to Paul Kley for creating it. The words on the flying page are not a quotation but a whole poem, a favourite of mine, by the Italian hermetic poet Giuseppe Ungaretti. It is impossible to translate, though countless attempts have been made. I am sure you can guess its meaning and I leave you to create your own ‘translation’ of it. Ungaretti fought in the trenches and those two lines represent a moment one morning – pared down to a sense of the absolute, maybe also of possibilities?

As we emerge from a not-yet-over pandemic and wake up every morning feeling the dread of conflict but also aware of the beauty of spring and the blessing of nature and community, Ungaretti’s words are more than ever appropriate.

I am taking a break from organising things over the summer. Whether I will be as dynamic as the train above, or I’ll take time on a siding, I’m not yet sure.

Either way, I am always happy to hear from you with thoughts and ideas, and wish to thank you for your support so far.

Be well!