Bangor: May Tues 26th at the Blue Sky Cafe: details of the venue and its great food and drink here.
Cristòfol Subira (1957-)
Other pairings were:
Nia Davies and SJ Fowler
Zoë Skoulding and Eurig Salisbury
Joe Dunthorne and Rhys Trimble
Sophie McKeand and Fiona Cameron
Karen Owen and Sian Northey
Ifor Ap Glyn and Ghazal Mosadeq
The reading also featured a performance by Welsh folk musician Elan Mererid Rhys, who also accompanied SJ and Nia.
I began: Robert: The last time I read in this room I was a Belgian. I was billed as the creature who features in my book A Translated Man, Rene Van Valckenborch. It was all Zoe Skoulding’s fault. It was slightly embarrassing – I remember Rhys Trimble compering and he said, staring straight and ironically at me, ‘After the break we’re going to have a fake Belgian,’ – but it suited me fine: I was reading Van Valckenborch’s supposed poems anyway, the ones he wrote in Walloon and the quite different ones he wrote in Flemish.
Before he starts to disappear at the end of the book he invents his own poets, 27 of them for each member state of the EU; the EUOIA, the European Union of Imaginary Authors. I wrote a few of these for the book, but Zoe again made me re-visit the complete list when we were asked to compose a collaborative poem for the Manchester Camarade by Steven Fowler. Thus Gurkan Arnavut was born.
That tipped me over into the madness of doing the lot as a curated and co-created anthology, and I am pleased that Alys Conran has agreed to join me in co-creating the Catalan poet Cristòfol Subira. We’re going to read one poem each, one from his Spanish side, and one from his Catalan side (he is a weird mirror of Van Valckenborch in that sense only), and it’s appropriate to read them first in bilingual Wales. But we want to emphasise that we both wrote both poems.
And now Alys is going to tell you about our creature, the little we (or the world) know of him.
Alys: Cristòfol Subira was born in 1957 in
. He worked for many years as a
street performer and living statue in the tourist districts of the city.
Between 1980 and 2007, Subira produced four collections of poetry,
alternately in Catalan and Spanish, but since then, his poetry has
not appeared in print except for several unattributed poems inscribed on
the paving of cul-de-sacs in the city, recently acknowledged as his work.
There was one doubtful sighting in Barcelona
in the summer of 2010. Brussels
I want to thank Alys for playing along with the EUOIA project and for bringing her linguistically and rhythmical tightness to the project. I think we both felt we'd made Subira happen. The other readers were wonderful; here’s one to give you the feel for the evening, and to demonstrate inter-lingual imagining of a different kind by Ifor Ap Glyn and Ghazal Mosadeq.
All the performances may be accessed here.
Sophie McKeand and Fiona Cameron https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJirFOPHuK0
Karen Owen and Sian Northey https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-08J_iqWZZY
Ifor Ap Glyn and Ghazal Mosadeq https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMFTBB6k-hc
Robert Sheppard and Alys Conran https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVOfQEMoss4
Nia Davies, SJ Fowler and Elan Mererid Rhys https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u827pCCzBiQ
Zoë Skoulding and Eurig
Joe Dunthorne and Rhys Trimble https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC0luz3pIUM
Elan Mererid Rhys (solo) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Paq3P9ElV68
Subira was last heard of in my Shearsman book A Translated Man in Annemie Dupuis' dubious diary, which finishes off the book, and Van Valckenborch, and her. Which is why the 'sighting' is 'doubtful'.
Thursday 12 August 2010
I’m sitting in the dock, moist hand clinging to grimy rail. The courtroom of some Eastern European capital. Standing beside myself I know this is a dream.
I’m accused of people-trafficking, but I don’t know why.
Questioned through an interpreter, it strikes me. I have made up a fictional national poet– his name at least – by combining the forename and surname with the most diacritics in the language, the least vowels. But it’s also the name of a villain. The unshaven giant with the scar down his face whispering curses to a solicitor in a bursting shiny suit. The police must have found my notes, tangles of names.
I realise the improbability of my alibi, the impossibility of communicating this. The interpreter squints at me, lost.
I hear my name mispronounced by the judge in his frayed crimson gown. I am nudged to my feet. He looks through me.
Sophie Poppmeier of Austria, Erik Canderlinck of Belgium (Wallonia), Paul Coppens of Belgium (Flanders), Gurkan Arnavut of Cyprus, Jitka Průchová of the Czech Republic, Lucia Ciancaglini of Italy, Jurgita Zujūtė of Lithuania, Hubert Zuba of Malta, Maarten De Zoete of Holland, Trine Kragelund of Denmark, Cristòfol Subira of Spain (Catalunya). Yes, yes, stop there, at that one.
I wake in a spray of sweat.
Friday 13 August 2010
I laugh in a spray of sweat, swallowed by pillows, buoyed by the churned mattress.
Post-coital, soft and confessional, Cristòfol murmurs that he writes poems in Spanish as well as Catalan. Quite different ones, as it happens. I take a quick shower. I must avoid this again, affect indifference, even cruelty. I return rubbing my hair. When he presses into me, I bite his tongue. There’s blood.
It works.Within hours I’m moved out. The stone dog on the corner of rue des Chartreux cocks its leg higher as I dip into the dark interior of a white car.