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KMZ reading
by Elizabeth Reichert

Paris’ new wave

In the wake of a multiplicity of journal launches, and ever-increasing literary workshops and readings... people here are starting to talk about a new wave of expatriate writing.

New journals
The emergence of four literary magazines in the past two years is proof of the vigor of this city’s literary community. In the roughneck manner of the experimental, late ’50s crowd, a wide-thinking group of younger personalities “hooked-up” during the winter of 2000 at George Whitman’s Shakespeare and Company, that has served as an anchor to the young writer’s dream since 1951. After brainstorming over sangria at rue de l’Odéon’s Bar Dix and selling 10F stories on George’s doorstep, the group eventually launched Kilometer Zero (KMZ).
More of an arts forum than a literary magazine, the KMZ association has since transcended Paris’ past publishing traditions by creating music, visual arts and performance venue sub-divisions.
“There’s a great tradition of artists working together in Paris,” says founding KMZ member, Jeremy Mercer, “whether that be painters in Montmartre, poets in the Beat Hotel or the Lost Generation gang. Thanks to Shakespeare and Company, we were able to set up a similar group that works together, creating, encouraging and inspiring others. But whereas in the past you’d have rather exclusive communities of people who had already passed some intellectual or artistic ‘bar,’ our goal is to act as an incubator of sorts, to work ‘inclusively’ with numerous types of artists to help them reach such a position. We want to create a broader community.”
The bilingual ezine “Double Change” was also founded in 2000 with similar broad-reaching intentions: to re-unite the poetries of France and America through an interactive e-forum and ambitious, international readings program. “What makes Double Change unique,” explains editorial team member Omar Berrada, “is that it’s fully bilingual. We have native English-speakers in France translating American poetry and native French-speakers in New York, LA and Providence translating French poetry. I don’t know of any other group or structure currently working in the same way.”
Likewise new to the scene is “Lieu,” an architecturally-focused magazine created by Canadian poet Lisa Pasold. And while Frank, the longest-standing literary journal compiled and published from Paris, just put out a 250-page issue featuring work by US Poet Laureate Billy Collins and an interview with Deepak Chopra, a brand-new biannual magazine founded by Ian Ayres named “Van Gogh’s Ear” is scheduled for print this month, including 200 pages graced by the likes of Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike and Alice Notley. As Roberta Vellvé explains, Van Gogh’s Ear “combines the range and vitality of established poets with that of a new generation of poets — it has its eye (or ear) on what poet Rod Smith calls Submodernsim.”

Readings & signings
As new lit mags hit the shelves, local bookstores are carrying on the readings tradition, acting as major meeting places where budding writers can mingle with the more experienced. In the last two years over one hundred authors, such as Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes and Edmund White have read and discussed their work in Paris’ English-language book shops!
But the readings don’t stop there Other readings occur in more intimate settings such as those hosted by John Kliphan’s Live Poets Society, where one can enjoy an evening’s verse with Irish pints of ale and Patricia Laplante Collins’ Sunday dinner soirées on a Seine-docked péniche — a veritable “moveable feast” that often features authors as guests of honor.

Writers workshops
Alongside public and print venues, writers in Paris find support in various workshops. In addition to the semester-long creative writing courses offered by WICE and the British Institute’s Pharos — a similar program initiated by poet Alice Notley in 1994, wordsmiths can enroll in the American University’s summer screenwriting course or the 16th annual Paris Writer’s Workshop, taught this year by Sharon Olds, Speer Morgan, Laurie Stone and Eric Maisel.
In addition to creative writing in Paris, there’s the intensive Ultimate Travel Writers Workshop, offering both beginner level travel writers and seasoned reporters the chance to transform their peripatetic tales into well-paid articles. Sponsored by International Living and taught by 10 successful travel writers, it allows participants to register solely for a three-day course or sign up for tempting extras: among other options, a two-day French Survival Workshop helps students express themselves and “story-scout,” and Literary Walking Tours provide them with an introduction to the Paris that attracted such travel journalists as Ernest Hemingway and New Yorker correspondent Janet Flanner.

The Ultimate Travel Writers Workshop Tuesday, April 23 through Friday, April 26, 2002 Live in Paris, France Holiday Inn Paris Saint-Germain
In France
Vicki Lamberis, Assistant Director
International Living Paris Office
Phone: +33 (0) 1 40 27 97 59
Fax: +1 (801) 640-2485

Elizabeth Reichert is the author of The Writers Insider Guide to Paris, an electronic insider guide published last January by International Living at