Rimbaud in London
Wednesday 1 August |8pm
National Poetry Library
Level 5 | Royal Festival Hall
London SE1 8XX
Penny Rimbaud, author and founder member of influential anarcho-punk group Crass, is to pay homage to the French poet from whom he took his surname. He will appear on a bill of poets honouring the 19th century French poet and icon of rebellion, Arthur Rimbaud.
Rimbaud in London is a one-off event at the National Poetry Library on Wednesday 1 August. Anglophone and Francophone poets who have been seriously influenced by Arthur Rimbaud will perform adaptions, translations and other works inspired by this enduring figure who wrote some of his most important work in London between 1872 and 1874.
Penny Rimbaud adopted his stage-name after the death of his friend Wally Hope. Jeremy John Ratter became Penny Lapsang Rimbaud. The ‘Penny’ referred to the phrase ‘spending a penny’ as euphemism for going to the toilet. (Penny’s father, Colonel Ratter CBE, had once called his son a “lavatory seat philosopher”.) ‘Lapsang’ became a middle name instead of ‘Earl Grey’ just to sound exotic. And Rimbaud was chosen because he “liked the style of the French poet”.
Penny Rimbaud is writing a piece especially for the tribute event in which he will attempt “to channel Rimbaud through the eyes of Jackson Pollock and through the ears of John Coltrane”. He will be accompanied by his longterm collaborator Louise Elliot on saxophone
Also on the bill is the poet-biographer-novelist Jeremy Reed author of Delerium: An Interpretation of Rimbaud as well as two recent adaptions of Rimbaud’s Illuminations and A Season in Hell. Reed has been praised by Edmund White as “the English Rimbaud”.
The poet Sean Bonney author of Happiness: Poems After Rimbaud will celebrate Rimbaud “as communard and petroleuse”.
Poet Paul Stubbs will read a metaphysical essay on Rimbaud called Beyond the Poem after which his partner the French poet Blandine Longre will read Rimbaud’s prose poem Barbare (Barbarian).
The event will be hosted by Irish poet Niall McDevitt, author of Firing Slits Jerusalem Colportage, who will debut his Pidgin English adaptions of key Rimbaud texts.