Monday, January 5, 2009
The Poetry Society of London
They start their meetings on time. Latecomers need to wait between the acts to climb down a creaky staircase to the meeting room behind the red velvet curtain. The event (American writers in European exile) is popular and the room is full: a few people are even sitting on stage with the performers. The cafe upstairs is selling wine and tea and very sweet chocolate chip muffins, but good luck navigating the small room with a glass of wine and a plate of muffin in your hands. The members generally know each other at least by their first names. They clap with discrimination: only after pieces they like (music or a humorous line will do). After three American women and one Congolese man read their pieces, the members plunged into the discussion of the topics involved. Are or should Americans living in Europe be ashamed of America? Why did you say that you "escaped" from Texas? What are the differences between the Tube and the Subway? I just want to make a comment about cowboys, that they only existed for a short period of time between 1880s and 1890s. Is running away from prosecution and coming to a place where you're not necessarily welcome better than staying in Congo and suffering? That last one generated a lot of discussion. Things are very bad in Congo, you have no idea. And Zimbabwe. Escaping to South Africa is a poor option. In the UK people are actually quite friendly and make you feel welcome. The English have a strange culture, but they are generally awesome. Awesome is an American word that became generally used after I left, but I'd like to include it into my vocabulary. They charge 4 pounds entry fee and give out some magazines.