This was my birthday present from Cheryl and John, who hosted a fabulous birthday dinner party for me in the garden here. It's a feast of colors and flavors, as is my stay here. Cheryl Fortier is the Director of Moulin a Nef, the artist colony where I'm staying.
artisanal soap shop in town
One of the four artists staying here left today, so it was a little bit sad. In the morning, I walked into town with Yona Harvey, the other American poet in residence here, and we stopped in the soap shop, where the proprietor makes all the soaps as well as eau de toilette, with every possible scent. I bought the violet one because it smelled just like the candies of my youth that my son now also likes.
Here are the four of us: Aurelien Morrisse (French painter), Michelle Acuff (sculptor, visual artist, who left today), Yona Harvey (American poet), and moi (NY poet who would rather use color than words). I am hoping, perhaps, in a later post to talk about their work.
It's also the 56th anniversary of the day Nasser took control of the Suez Canal, which began the Suez Canal Crisis, which led to the expulsion of the Jews from Egypt, not least of whom was Edmond Jabes, beloved poet/philosopher, who moved to Paris. Would he have become the writer he became had he remained in Egypt? Would the taste of exile be so palpable in his work?
Color, eau de toilette, and exile. These are the three moods of the day.
I suppose I came here because even these brief sojourns elsewhere are the way I, like many artists, can, in a self-imposed exile, receive the word in the desert. For Jabes, the Jew was the quintessential outsider, the "foreigner of foreigners."
at the base of the clock tower in Auvillar, in homage to Marcabrun
Auvillar is the birthplace of Marcabrun, a troubadour poet born around 1100, who is famous for writing a song that was used as inspiration during the Crusades, in which Jews as well as Moslems were massacred.
So my stay here continues to be rife with contradiction. As it turns out, the Garonne may be off-limits for swimming because of all the pesticide run-off. To be continued . . .
Sharon is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Whirlwind ( University of Pittsburgh Press) and Burn and Dodge (Pittsburgh, 2008). As well as poetry, Sharon is at work on a book of aphoristic sequences, several of which have appeared or are forthcoming in Fourth Genre, Hotel Amerika, Denver Quarterly, The American Poet, Salamander, and The Kenyon Review Online. She has poems forthcoming in Poetry along with a Q&A in December. Currently, she teaches at Poets House and the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y, and directs The Center for Book Arts Annual Letterpress Poetry Competition. Sharon blogs over at Whirlwind.