Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson & Catalan poetry

Well, last night’s big show at the CCCB in Barcelona —Lou Reed, live, & Laurie Anderson, via live video feed from Berkeley — was a most engaging event. It draw an audience of about a thousand for a space that holds only some 500, so that half the audience had to follow the event on big screens & over loudspeakers set up in the patio above. (I forgot my camera, as usual, so cannot document the place visually). Like all events involving rock stars, this one too started 45 minutes late. It consisted of a reading of Catalan poetry in English translation — a wide, well-chosen anthology, ranging from a 1928 futurist Catalan manifesto by Dali & others, via J.V. Foix (who, btw, is in the Millennium anthology) to current, younger poetas. Anderson was an excellent reader, and Reed was fine too, though it was often difficult to hear his line breaks or even the separation between poems as he ran them together a bit too much. The original Catalan texts were projected on a side-screen which also indicated their authors — whom the readers didn’t mention. The one glaring lack was the fact that the translators were not mentioned either by the readers or on the text screen (unless Reed & Anderson had done them, which I very much doubt). But all in all it was a splendid homage, even if it felt slightly odd to have a Catalan audience in Catalonia sitting through an evening of their poetry read to them in English (without a single word of Catalan being spoken) — though the glamor of Reed & Anderson honoring their authors obviously made the local audience positively beam with pleasure.

Today at noon John Giorno is on, & yours truly (in the company of 4 Catalan poets) will strut his stuff at 6 p.m. — in the smaller space of the “Café Europa” on the top floor of the CCCB. But then none of us expects a rock and roll-sized audience, though we will endeavor to start on time. Hasta luego.

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