Thursday, 15 November 2007

Squabbling over kippers

Finally, a story that combines great literature, down-and-dirty sex with minors, gratuitous violence and, er, cultural heritage issues. The house in London in which Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud loved, wrote and fought over smoked fish has been saved from property developers thanks to the pioneering work of the charity Poets in the City. They plan to turn the house into a rendezvous for the poets' admirers and creative offspring.
"It is probably going to be more tea and cake than absinthe," said Graham Henderson chief executive of Poets in the City. "A lot of people have been working hard over a long period of time to get the house saved.

"It is all on the drawing board at the minute, but we envisage a place that is a celebration of Verlaine and Rimbaud, where poets and enthusiasts can meet, do research and hold events."

The house is in Royal College Street, so if you're feeling vaguely maudit, you know where to go.

PS. By pure chance I spent two weeks last year in one of the buildings Verlaine lived in during his years in Paris, in rue Nollet, just round the corner from Place du Clichy. I don't have a photograph to prove this (and I'm sure you believe me in any case). But I do have one I took during my stay which captures something of the rather dark and perverse nature of the two poets' relationship.

Here it is.

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