Archives for posts with tag: France

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Notre-Dame de Paris
by Sarah Russell

Paris is a woman because of Notre-Dame —
the center, the mother, austere, protecting.

As a student, I lived nearby on Rue de Seine,
a lapsed protestant who found peace in her alcoves
with their candles and dusty saints, her cool scent
like ancient, cherished books, my steps on her stone floor
echoing to her heights, a child in her embrace.

She nurtured my loneliness at Christmas with songs
of birth and hope, with foreign words and rituals
that somehow felt like home.

Years later, when flames rose from her ancient bones,
I became her child again, helpless, afraid no one
could save her. I wept as her spire fell, as sirens keened
in minor key.

Today, sheathed in scaffolding, she remains the center,
the mother — resilient, still sustaining me as she is healed.

PHOTO: Notre-Dame Cathedral on the banks of the River Seine, Paris, France. Photo by Mark Skalny, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Notre-Dame de Paris is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. Considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, construction began in 1160 and was completed around 1260.  (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I didn’t realize how much Notre-Dame meant to me until I saw her in flames on April 15, 2019. I felt I needed to be with the throngs who gathered there, who loved her as I did. I’ve had the good fortune to travel a great deal in my life, but Paris and Notre-Dame are where I return again and again. I feel at peace when I see the cathedral. It is a touchstone for my life.

PHOTO: Interior of Notre-Dame de Paris by Ninlawan Donlakkham, used by permission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Russell is a Pushcart-nominated poet who has published widely in print and online. Her two collections of poetry, published by Kelsay Books, are I lost summer somewhere (2019) and Today and Other Seasons (2020). She blogs at SarahRussellPoetry.net.

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Giverny
by Chris Precise

I was a guest in Claude Monet’s home for a dewy day. It was a beautiful oasis, tucked away in the countryside behind dripping wisteria and giggling daffodils. A woman in one of his paintings called to me in the study. She held a parasol and stood at the crest of a hill’s rolling wave of endless green, rising above it as though weightless. I almost reached my hand out to her to pull me through the canvas into the frame mounted on the wall. I imagined myself closing my eyes and dissipating into the hues of the paint to become the strokes of the brush, where I would play a larger role in the grand scheme without worrying about someone getting too close to find detail in me that I could not find in myself.

The Woman with a Parasol allures me still. On the days where I wish to melt into the background, I can see her featureless face blending into the vast blue sky behind her, telling me to come with her. Instead, I roll over in my bed and lose count of the bountiful brushstrokes that make up my body without knowing where one ends and another begins.

Light yielded itself upon Giverny as the time came to depart for home. While the countryside faded into the background, the woman in the canvas did too. Her perpetual motion up close became suspended in time as the distance between us increased on my return to Paris, and the mirage of our likeness evaporated. I am not the touches of frozen oil slowly achromatizing as the years counted themselves. I am my own Impressionist canvas, speckled with the soft colors of my survival and bearing light for harvest. I am here.

PHOTO: Water garden at Claude Monet’s home and garden in Giverny, France, by Gilles Bizet, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The theory of les touches in Impressionist period art, the touches of the brush on the canvas, fascinated me, the visible strokes created through the mastery of Monet, Renoir, Degas. They bent light at the whim of their brushstrokes, gods birthing new universes I so desperately wished to be a part of. Lately, I have been trying to find a sense of self: a facet of identity or defining memory that will ground me into a sense of who I am. Until that day, which may come tomorrow or 50 years from tomorrow, I will be satisfied with the process of making my own oil paint touches as I construct an image of my being.

IMAGE: “Woman with a Parasol” by Claude Monet (1886).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chris Precise is a Black nonbinary scholar-writer-activist in the making. Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a current student at Swarthmore College, they study Black diasporas around the globe and enjoy reading Black feminist and DuBoisian theory. Much of their narrative and creative nonfiction writing rests tucked away in tattered Moleskine journals, but they aspire to soon share more of themself and their stories with the world. For more, visit preciselychris.carrd.co.

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Le Palais des Papes
by Alarie Tennille

We’ve long sought our gods
on mountaintops, so Fourteenth
Century popes of France built
a fortress on high ground.

Closer to God,
looking down on their people.

Far above the Rhône
and Pont d’Avignon, the safest place
from invasion.

Steep
winding
stairs,
hard
stone,
short
legs,
long robes,
luxury amid daily peril.

First published in the author’s poetry collection, Waking on the Moon.

PHOTO:Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), Avignon, France” by Christian Delbert (2016), used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Palais des Papes in Avignon, Southern France, is one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. The site has served as a fortress, palace, and papal residence. Construction began in 1252, and Avignon became the papal residence in 1309, when the Gascon Bertrand de Goth, as Pope Clement V, unwilling to face the violent chaos of Rome after his election (1305), moved the Papal Curia to Avignon during the “Avignon Papacy.” The Palais became obsolete when the papacy returned to Rome in 1362, (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 1992, my husband and I visited France for the first time, and it was love at first sight and bite. We try to get back there every five years or so. While we’ve returned to Paris and Lyons as our hubs, we also visit different towns each time we go. The poem and the above photo are from our 2015 trip to Avignon, Arles, Nimes, a handful of small towns in Provence, and Lyons. Since we can’t travel anywhere this year, I enjoyed revisiting Avignon here with you. ¶ I’m short (5’1.5”), but taller than many Frenchmen in the 14th Century, so it amazed me how steep and treacherous the spiraling stairs were inside the palace. For the safety of tourists, they’ve mounted heavy metal railings. I had to hoist myself up step by step, since the risers were too high for a normal step, the stones slippery. I imagined the popes and visiting cardinals and dignitaries wore long robes and slippery leather sandals. How many do you suppose died by falling down the stairs? There was no handicapped access. The tourist office was turning away people in wheelchairs saying that it was impossible to accommodate them. After dragging myself up and around the massive building, I was more than ready for crepes and cider.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alarie Tennille graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she serves on the Emeritus Board of The Writers Place. Her latest poetry collection is Waking on the MoonHer first collection, Running Counter Clockwise, was first runner-up for the Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence (both books available on Amazon). She was recently honored to receive a 2020 Fantastic Ekphrastic Award from The Ekphrastic Review. Please visit her at alariepoet.com to check out her blog and learn more about her writing.

Montmartre in Paris, France
Montmartre Adventure
by Jennifer Lagier

I evade prepubescent
pickpockets who stalk naive
tourists as they emerge from
the underground Metro.

A watchful Parisian wordlessly
points from his eyes to my wallet,
warns of hands that grab,
distracting their victims.

Eight blocks later, gendarmes
apprehend the young thieves,
force them to sit in a line,
wrists bound, feet in the gutter.

Sketch artists, white-faced mimes,
solicit at Sacré-Coeur cathedral,
posture, entertain passersby,
make indecent proposals to women.

Near the Lapin Agile cabaret,
I visit a wine shop, walls illustrated
with street boys, the French
equivalent of Salinas gang homies.

A late afternoon croque-monsieur,
warm beer mixed with lemonade,
kicking back at an open-air bistro,
make me fit in, feel like a local.

PHOTO: “Morning in the Place du Tertre with Sacré-Coeur Basilica in the background, Montmartre, Paris, France” by Volha Kavalenkava, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem and photo are from our week-long stay in Paris in the summer of 2003. My husband, shown in the photo with me, proposed marriage as we sat on the lawn in the gardens under the Eiffel Tower on our second day there.

PHOTO: Oliver Fellguth and Jennifer Lagier at the Eiffel Tower, June 2003.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published eighteen books. Her work appears in From Everywhere a Little: A Migration Anthology, Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, Missing Persons: Reflections on Dementia, Silent Screams: Poetic Journeys Through Addiction & Recovery. Her newest books are Trumped Up Election (Xi Draconis Books) and Dystopia Playlist (CyberWit), with Meditations on Seascapes and Cypress forthcoming from Blue Light Press. Visit her at jlagier.net and find her on Facebook.

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O, Paris
by Dakota Donovan

O, Paris, how I miss you!
When will I see you again?
It’s been too long.
When I think of you, you are bathed
in a blue mist.
How I miss your light, your dark
your scent, your streets,
your rhythm, your trains,
your language, your music,
your monuments, your shops,
your art, your culture,
your stairs to climb.
I miss your rain, rain, rain.
I miss Ile St. Louis, where I stayed in
a terrible hotel and
fled to a trés belle place near
Les Champs-Élysées.
Another time, it was an
apartment near La Tour Eiffel —
a high rise where hawks soared between the buildings.
Then, it was Montparnasse, a hotel
paid for by my Fortune 50 employer—a 10-day stay,
great, except for the job and the employer.
But under any circumstances or conditions
I would return to you
O, Paris.
I love you.
It’s okay if you don’t love me back.

PHOTO: “Paris Sunset” by Kevin Phillips, used by permission.

Stylish woman at the summer beach in a hot day

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Long-time Francophile Dakota Donovan is a ghostwriter for the rich and famous who lives in Los Angeles. She’s had many wild and crazy experiences while working with celebrities to tell their life stories, and some of these strange-but-true tales appear in her Hollywood Ghostwriter Mysteries — starting with L.A. Sleepers. In other incarnations, she’s written novels, plays, screenplays, and television scripts. She’s currently working on L.A. Dreamers, the second novel in the Hollywood Ghostwriter Mystery series.

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L’amour s’en va
(for Françoise Hardy)
by Françoise Harvey

Disappointment is a flavour I carry with me;
it’s salt cast behind me against men of a certain age and disposition.
Eyesight marred by music, they read V as D and hope they’ll see
you, smouldering behind your fringe in a mouldy flat in Peckham;
you, behind the lines they thought sang from that story.
We neither of us ask to be stalked or talked to or misread
but I have to shield myself against the wince that is my lack of your glory.
No beauty, it’s enough to bathe in the afterglow of the light shed
by you, and smile, and nod, and sprinkle salt on their tongues
by being older than the you they cling to, by not knowing your songs.

PHOTO: French singer/actress Françoise Hardy, 1960s.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I jumped at the chance to take part in this call for submissions. My parents occasionally tell me I was named after Françoise Hardy, but I’m not sure how true this is. As well as writing poetry/prose, I also sing and play a number of instruments –- with no results that go beyond soundcloud –-  and the name comparison tends to come up with middle-aged and older men either before they meet me in person or if music comes up in conversation (it’s never been mentioned by women). I have been accused, when submitting writing, of making up a pen name, and someone has turned up on my doorstep with an Ebay parcel (a cheap Asda dehumidifier –-  très glamorous) they could have posted, just to see if I looked like her. I don’t, and the utter disappointment was awkward and palpable. Basically, Françoise Hardy has haunted me in my interests and beyond for most of my life. As far as I’m aware, I have never heard one of her songs. I sort of resent the comparisons, because she’s not someone I could ever live up to –- and actually this resentment made me pick a form to work with for this poem, to keep me focused and stop me just having a bit of a rant.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Françoise Harvey lives in the North East of England. She writes short stories and poems, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including Bare Fiction, Synaesthesia Magazine, Litro, Agenda, Envoi, The Gingerbread House and anthologies Furies and The Casual Electrocution of Strangers. She is one of the founders of Literary Salmon (literarysalmon.wordpress.com) and works at Mslexia magazine.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Getting in touch with my French side, playing in a park in Paris, 2010.

The Author about 1970
Michel
by Lynn White

Traveling through northern France
with Michel driving.
The Beatles singing on the radio,
“Michelle, ma belle.”
A sky of uniform grey,
dark, dark grey.
And then,
a surprise rainbow.
And then,
to one side,
a helicopter
outlined black.
Mosquito-like.
Black.
And then,
I bottled it.
I can still remember.

PHOTO: The author, around 1970.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was returning home, heading for a Channel port in the late 1960s. It seemed like a magic moment, captured.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places, and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy, and reality. Her poem “A Rose For Gaza” was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud “War Poetry for Today” competition in October 2014 and is published in Poetry For Changeanthology by Vending Machine Press. Poems have also recently been included in Harbinger Asylum’s Literary Journal and A Moment To Live By anthology, Stacey Savage’s We Are Poetry: An Anthology of Love Poems, the Weasel Press anthology Degenerates, Voices For Peace, Community Arts Ink’s Reclaiming Our Voices and a number of on line and print journals. Visit her on facebook.

ABOUT THE MUSIC: Listen to “Michelle” by the Beatles here.

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Ten Days in Paris
by Susan Mahan

I fell in love with a frenchman.

We dined in a bistro
…at separate tables.
Pink lighting glowed softly
on white linen,
and I savored him between morsels
of warm goat cheese.
He was handsome and cordial,
soft-spoken and kind.
He sat with a woman,
but I was sure
they were business associates;
he did not tutoie*her.

His gaze held hers
as they talked of their jobs,
their interests,
their families.
His eyes were expressive
and the color of the Seine on a cloudy day.
His eyebrows moved in concert
with her every remark.

I wanted his rapt attention
and longed to bring him back to my flat.

© Susan Mahan, June 2000

*the verb tutoyer means to address familiarly (tu)

PHOTOGRAPH: “Sidewalk Cafe, Boulevard Diderot, Paris” by Henri Cartier-Bresson (1969).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
My husband died in 1997. I had been married 26 years and had never really been alone in all that time. Two years after he died, I decided to travel alone to Paris. I thought I needed to prove somethingto myself. I brought a journal along to write my impressions of the trip. “Ten Days in Paris”was one of the poems that emerged. When I think of the initial fear I had on that trip — not being ableto read maps that well, only knowing a little French, being entirely alone in a foreign country,how can I submit a poem on “My Perfect Vacation,”you may be asking? It turned out that my time spent in Paris gave me great confidence in myself. I’ve traveled back two more timesby myself since the first trip.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Mahan has been writing poetry since her husband died in 1997. She is a frequent reader at poetry venues and has written four chapbooks. She served as an editor of The South Boston Literary Gazette from 2002-2012. She has been published in a number of journals and anthologies, including Silver Birch Press.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Susan Mahan outside The Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Giverny
by Elaine Mintzer

Monet in his garden pressed his cataract vision against the blues and greens, broke each leaf and lily pad, each flower and petal into components to reveal their cellular designs, to render by paint and brush lattice and ladder, macro and micro in the same lens, general and specific, so when a woman came to visit, and passed other nameless visitors, and saw the shape of the place with the clarity of her own eyes, she was at once apart and part of the landscape, a mote of dust on the water’s surface.

IMAGE: “Water Lilies” by Claude Monet (1915).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’d always thought of Monet’s paintings as examples of nature run rampant. In reality, he had his crews dust foliage as well as the surface of the water. It is that sense of wildness I think we attempt in poetry, all the while controlling for the “dust” we edit away.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elaine Mintzer has a BA from UCLA in Creative Writing and an MS in Education from USC. She has written poetry for Ballet Randolph in Miami Beach, has been published in print journals and online, and was anthologized in 13 Los Angeles Poets. Elaine’s first collection, Natural Selections, was published by Bombshelter Press in 2005.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author in Giverny, France (June 2010).

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By Patrick T. Reardon

A piece of land like a fable in paradise

SOURCE: Isabelle Huppert interview, timeout.com.

IMAGE: Isabelle Huppert at 2009 Venice Film Festival by Nicolas Genin.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love watching Isabelle Huppert, the great French actress. So I grabbed a recent interview of her — only to find it filled with a lot of facts and very little oomph. Nonetheless, there were a few phrases that fell together and gave also gave me a title.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon, a Chicagoan born and bred, is a former scholar-in-residence at the Newberry Library.