spoken word

David Barnes, écrivain et poète, est l'initiateur de la soirée littéraire (mais aussi poétique, psychédélique) que chaque lundi soir inaugure la semaine parisienne: SpokenWord.
SpokenWord Paris, fondé par David depuis 2006,  est un rendez vous pour tous ceux qui veulent partager des mots.
C'est un rassemblement plutôt animé, d'écrivants, des comédiens, des musiciens, des clochards célestes, et d'autres formes de vie qui aiment monter la scène et prendre la parole.
Si vous voulez connaitre mieux le monde de David Barnes
il y a un livre qui vient de sortir “Strangers in Paris”, c’est une anthologie d’histoires et poésie inspirée à la ville de Paris éditée par Tightrope Book, il y a aussi une magazine qui vient d’apparaitre issue.Zero (à demander le le lundi soir à SpokenWord).
Si vous voulez le rejoindre il faut passer chaque lundi au Chat Noir dans le 11ème où vous pouvez partager vous pensée, prendre le micro et vous fondre dans la salle.
SpokenWord Paris
Chat Noir
76 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud
Métro Parmentier/Couronnes
David Barnes
The Corporate Goldfish
Cruel as cornflakes
                              sinking through the serial bowl
The corporate goldfish
                                 circle in the 20 storey shark tanks
                                                                                        of La Défense
Shoals of scheming fool’s gold fish,
                                        victims of their own motivational seminars
   calling one thing another
                                                  till reality diffuses into the ocean…
This is the Age of Aquariums
                                     and the corporate goldfish
                                                                                   food-chained to their desks
Their shades are mirrored on the inside
                                                       they sharpen their suits
                                                                                                  the corporate goldfish
Rencontre avec David Barnes
Paris somewhere near Bastille 21-11-2011

C.M. In the beginning of 'Strangers in Paris',  you write about your decision to be here and the pressure that you felt in England to be a writer. So what bring you here?

D.B. You Mean the pressure against being a writer, not the pressure to be a writer, but the pressure against being a writer… Well i came here really by chance i was busy escaping England I always felt like an outsider in England so why stay? And I was looking for a place where I could feel different, but I didn’t really know what I was really looking for, except it was good to travel, and then here I found a community of writers and people that care about writing settled around Shakespeare and company, the bookshop, and I started reading my poetry in a bar it was like open mic musicians night but they let me start reading my poetry there and it was just great. Got a good response like people here really care about it. I think it was something I needed.

C.M. So your connections with writers and people starts from Shakespeare &Co.?

D.B. Yeah I spent two weeks sleeping in the bookshop; for about a year my social life was focused on the bookshop and then I started doing the writing workshop there. ‘Cause first, they had readings every monday night but when I was there it was often just very chaotic, fun, open and unprofessional.  Now it is like a regular bookshop but at that time it was just open to anybody doing stuff which it’s not now. So I started a writing workshop there ‘cause there were no writing workshops going on anywhere that I could find.  I was writing and I wanted to know if my stuff was any good and now it’s just growing growing growing. Now it’s like, well…,  the open mic nights we do every week, SpokenWord Paris, for the moment we have seventy people coming every Monday, and the writing workshop is busy like ten, fifteen people every week, there a lot going on.

C.M. What about the process of writing. ‘cause usually you write alone and then when you go to a workshop, you have to share and listen other’s work. What kind of difficulties or progress you found out?

D.B. It’s scary for a beginning writer to go, to get feedback and criticism but it’s absolutely essential. I have set up the writing group with very specific rules, which are designed to make it safe: we discuss the work, we don’t criticize the writer, it’s all about describing what you see in the work and what you experienced and your reactions. If you do that, it’s a good way to avoid any kind of personal disputes and to just have an accurate honest feedback that is very useful. Through that really I learned a lot and through hearing other people’s stuff and seeing how it works. I learned a lot.  It’s essential for a writer to do that kind of thing.

C.M. David Foster Wallace said: to write, to be a writer you need muscles.

D.B. What kind of muscles? Mental muscles, emotional muscles, psychic muscles,  definitely.
When you write… it reveals who you are. Essentially writing is something that you do on your own, in front of the page most of the time, it’s kind of like a battle a lot of the time, and it’s very hard and lonely and you need a community to support that, you need people to care about it, and you need the sense that you are learning and improving and you need a teacher of the craft and you need to learn.  My friend Kathleen Spivack said the best teacher is your writing, the process… But you need to know what effect your stuff has on other people who don’t have your story already in their head, right? ‘Cause that’s the big difference with you and other people. You know your story inside out. When people start out they don’t know how much of that is being conveyed to the reader and that’s what they need to work on it.
Tell me if the answers should be shorter.

C.M. No it’s perfect like this. You write a lot in English.

D.B. I only write in English, I use a few French words. I think learning a language is like learning a musical instrument, I have a really good level in English and in French I have a really poor level, it’s ''café French'', it’s fluent but I don’t feel the words like I do in English. I can’t get the exact effect that I want like I can in English.

C.M. But reading your story “She always reads the last line first,” published in Strangers in Paris you use lot of French words and they are really precise. We can imagine the situation so clear.

D.B. I’m beginning to incorporate French sentences, I’m beginning to use it. But precise is the word, it’s how I try to write.

C.M. It’s amazing ‘cause during the time of  your novel i had the impression to get lost in Paris, do you have the same relationship with the city, like you describe in your story?

D.B. Yeah absolutely. It’s a fantastic city full of settings. Full of places to walk around and watch people, like I said in the short story, ‘cause like novel in English means roman in French, like I said there is a line about these small tables that they have in Paris which are just right to create an intimate conversation just by the fact of having a really small table just big enough for two people. It’s great, I love that.

C.M. so we’re going to have a good dinner ‘cause after we have to go to Spoken Word. Can you tell me what it’s about?

D.B. What? What we’re gonna eat? What SpokenWord is about?
SpokenWord is now, well it has been for long time, is the most successful English open mic or English poetry night in Paris. I’ve been doing it for five years, since 2006. It’s a night that has a special feel which I think that’s something I put in to it, I tried to set up a night that was supportive, welcoming, a good platform for people that do stuff, all kinds of stuff, all kinds of languages and that’s the feeling I’ve got.  That’s the feedback I get. Which is great I’m very satisfied, it’s like a community a kind of a family you know…

C.M. Is amazing ‘cause since then you’ve changed a lots of bars, ‘cause there are lot of people that come every year…the group is growing…

D.B. It was nice to have it a bit successful, when the number goes down it’s more intimate, that’s nice, but I love the fact that it’s growing, last week we had between 60 or 70 people,  I can’t remember, exactly, but I feel like it’s a success.

C.M. Coming back to your life, Strangers in Paris is not your first publication or is it?

D.B. I’ve published short stories and poems in literary magazines, I won a competition as well with one short story which is great ‘cause writing doesn’t pay but I got a free holiday. I wasn’t very interested in publishing at the start, I wanted to just get better at writing and learn how to do it, and now I’m more interested in publishing. So in 14 days we’re gonna launch a magazine, that I put together with couple of other people from SpokenWord, like a literary journal, issue.ZERO magazine.
That’s more for fun. It’s not a serious, serious thing. It’s not like the dream of publishing my first novel…

C.M. The book Strangers in Paris for example is a combination of the success of SpokenWord and also other good works. Why were Tightrope Books interested in this project?

D.B.  Tightrope books came to Paris, they came to the writing workshop and they came to SpokenWord, and they loved what we were doing, and they said “Hey this is great would you like to put in an anthology together? not just people you know, but an anthology to do with Paris”, so we started  contacting a lot of authors, we’ve got some big names like John Berger and Alice Notley and we’ve got a lot of “medium size” names in Paris as well like Lisa Pasold, and then we got newcomers from SpokenWord and other people that send us stuff as well so…

C.M. Writing means a lot of practice. It’s like a private entertainment. What do you think about it? How do you fight your demons? How do you fight your lazy times…?

D.B. I think like I’m still learning this. The thing is to accept whatever is going on, with the new, so… maybe sometimes you just need to get up and move or you need to do something else and not try and force the story, maybe write something else. I don’t believe in forcing yourself to write until you get the story out. But at the same time there is place for discipline but not that kind of discipline, and it’s discipline with wisdom, which would mean there is a time when it’s best to stop writing and go to the Louvre or have a nice day in the forest, sleep, do nothing or just play computer games maybe… I don’t do that anymore.
If you’re writing enough and you keep feeding your brain with the kind of problems and questions that you have about what to do with your writing or which way to go next, and how to improve it,  if you keep feeding that in, your brain the brain will work on it, and suddenly it will come out. So I don’t believe in forcing it but I do believe in a kind of wise discipline.
And your demons are absolutely fantastic material.

C.M. Great and now we have to eat and join the people of SpokenWord…Thanks!


Chantal Malambri / / //// 

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