From French kissing to French’s mustard (okay, make that Grey Poupon), things French add a certain je ne sais quoi to our lives, both as people and poets. Manicddaily here (a/k/a Karin Gustafson) and I’m hosting the Pub’s Poetics today in a celebration of Quatorze Juillet, Bastille Day, France’s national holiday.
Things French have always had a certain cachet for me—a kind of chic that runs way deeper than Chanel. Even as a tiny girl, I was always trying to put my hair up in a French twist. (I wanted to look like Grace Kelly, but ended up more like Pippy Longstocking.) Still, I knew the code – anyone in a movie smoking a French cigarette, whether a good guy or bad, was cool (Claude Raines in Casablanca), anyone looking great in a beret was super cool (Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca), and anyone remembering Paris, while also smoking a French cigarette and holding the arm of someone beautiful in a beret, was just, well, beyond cool. (Bogey.)
But France, largely through its cuisine, has also injected itself into world culture in more homey ways. In the Methodist Church booth at my local upstate New York county fair, they serve french toast; even Colombian coffee can be bought in french roast; McDonald’s supersizes french fries from Amarillo, Texas to Mumbai.
French poetry is famous for a certain elegantly sardonic darkness – Charles Baudelaire with Les Fleurs du Mal (Flowers of Evil), and Arthur Rimbeaud with Le Bateau Ivre (The Drunken Boat)– but, to me, the most striking thing about French poetry is its music, which arises partly because the poems are written in French. My favorite example of this music is Il Pleure Dans Mon Coeur by Paul Verlaine, which begins, “Il pleure dans mon coeur/ Comme il pleut sur la ville; Quelle est cette langueur/Qui penêtre mon coeur.” (Basically: it weeps in my heart like it rains on the town, what is this languor/sadness that penetrates my heart.) If you are interested in hearing the music of that poem – and vraiment, the sounds alone are fantastic whether or not comprehensible–check out the very sweet YouTube reading below. (Unfortunately, it does not have the text but here are links to both the French original and French/English translation. )
And now, to the prompt! Celebrate Quatorze Juillet/Bastille Day/Things French with us by writing whatever French twisted (or sort of French, sort of twisted) poem you desire, whether your fancy takes to you poodles, Paris, or red wine on the couch.
As you link up your poem, however, think of the painting above, and the three watchwords of the French revolutionaries celebrated today–Liberté, Fraternité and Egalité (Freedom, Brotherhood/Sisterhood, and Equality). These are also, to some degree, watchwords here at dVerse. We each link one poem per prompt, which is, hopefully, imbued with that sense of liberation that comes from the sharing of one’s work with brother/sister poets, people who will certainly have different styles and viewpoints, but who are also (simply by the fact that they are poets) fellow rebels, fellow revelers.
Eh Bien! Get to work, mes amis! Have a great day! And, as always, merci beaucoup to Claudia Schoenfeld, Brian Miller, all the dVerse staff, and especially to all of you.
Here’s the drill for those of you, new to the Pub. (Bienvenu!)
• Write your poem and post it to your blog
• Add a link to your poem via the ‘Mr Linky’ below.
• This opens a new screen where you’ll enter your information, and where you also choose links to read. Once you have pasted your poem’s blog URL and entered your name, click Submit. Don’t worry if you don’t see your name right away.
• In the spirit of Fraternity, read and comment on other peoples’ work.
• Share via your favourite social media platforms
• Above all- have fun – and do check out the youtube video for a lovely moment of a child reading French verse. Also note that the elephant above is not intended to refer to, or promote, any political party or persuasion! I just happen to draw elephants!