John Kliphan & The Live Poets Society
John Kliphan is one of the reasons I'm a poet in Paris, and I'm going to miss him. John died last month, here in the city he loved. The Live Poets Society, founded, curated, and directed by John, was the longest-running reading series of its kind in Paris. Through Live Poets, we were given the chance to meet once a month--always in an excellent pub--to listen to new work, hear old favourites, and talk about poetry. For John, poetry was something very much alive and spoken; he used to explain patiently that Live Poets wasn't a Society you could buy a membership for...you simply became part of it by showing up, by listening, and by reading your work. He always (ALWAYS) wore a black beret.
John was one of the first people who ever invited me to be "a featured reader" and he actually paid his poets for their work, which was (and remains) a radical concept. He believed that poetry was valid, necessary, and completely normal, rather like breathing--a lesson which I continue to appreciate. I was lucky to read with John a few times, and I'm honoured to be part of his memorial reading on March 4.
Here's John Kliphan's poem for Chet Baker, from his collection, Chain Songs:
I don't want to die
I just want to go in the back room
For a while
March 4, 2012, 13h at The Highlander Pub, 8 rue de Nevers, 75006 (just off the Pont Neuf on the Left Bank) Reading begins at 1pm (NOT 3pm as I thought), and a wide assortment of Paris writers & friends will be reading from John's work. If you're in Paris, come on by! It'll be a very Irish-style of wake, I assure you...