Monday, April 13, 2015

Isn't Everything Poetry? - At Curious Fox Books

What would National Poetry Month be without attending at least one poetry reading, even if it is in a country that does not celebrate April as National Poetry Month?

Though I am not writing a poem-a-day as part of NaPoWriMo, I did want to attend as many literary events as I could. This first one of April being the monthly “Isn’t Everything Poetry?” night at Curious Fox Books in the Neuk├Âlln neighborhood of Berlin.

Jason Francis Mc Gimsey
The first reader of the evening was Jason Francis Mc Gimsey, co-editor of the Paris-based literary journal Paris Lit Up, in celebration of the launch of the journal's second issue, which includes two writers familiar to me – Margo Berdeshevsky and Lesley Wheeler. Jason read a powerful short story of his and talked about the origins of the journal, which publishes poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, translations, and art. The annual journal grew out of the open mic organized by the Paris Lit Up writing community. Jason also brought copies of Flying Home, the first book published by Paris Lit Up Press. Flying Home is an artistic collaboration pairing 55 works of art by Sig Bang Schmidt with poems by Steve Dalachinsky.

Alistair Noon
The event’s second reader was Alistair Noon, a U.K.-born poet and translator who has lived in Berlin since the 1990s. Alistair read from his translations of poems by Osip Mandelstam, one of which is published in the new issue of Paris Lit Up.

From ‘Out of the gypsy tents…’

Through the gypsy tents on the darkening street, I’ll dash
after the withered cherry branch inside the black carriage,
after the snow-filled bonnet and the noise like a millstone.

All I recall was how they misfired, those chestnut locks
so smoky with bitterness—or was it ant’s acid?
Their amber dryness will stay on my lips.

Nisha Bhakoo
Nisha Bhakoo performed her work as the third featured reader. Nisha is a poet from Brighton, U.K., who has lived in Berlin for about a month. Her rhymes had a hip-hop edge to them and poem titles included ‘Half Human,’ ‘About Living above a Sex Shop,’ and ‘This Toothless Night.’

From ‘This Toothless Night’

This toothless night
has a playful clock—
you hear the tick
but miss the tock.

The final featured reader, Rosie Allabarton, is also originally from the U.K. but now lives in Berlin. She is a graduate of the Birkbeck Creative Writing M.A. program. Many of Rosie’s poems were thematically linked by their attention to place, with titles including ‘Munich,’ ‘Budapest,’ and ‘Tempelhof,’ while other poems intimately addressed an unknown “you”.
Rosie Allabarton

From ‘Autumn #4’

… we watched the moon, a soft face
on the folding paper lake
our hands heavy and still on the tracks:
would the Autumn
be so inclined as Summer
was obliging?

I am very glad for the opportunity to purchase a copy of the new issue of Paris Lit Up, which is now being stocked by Curious Fox Books. Since I couldn’t be at AWP to spend my year’s earnings at the Book Fair, I could at least pick up a literary journal close to home, and get to know some of the European writers with whom I am not familiar. You can find out more about the Paris Lit Up community, open mic scene, magazine, and press, at

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