Author: Guest blogger
Jemma Birrell, event organiser, Shakespeare and Company, Paris
When I first arrived in Paris five years ago I had no plans, no job and didn’t know a soul. Everyone I met was a friend of a friend and I went from there to gradually build a life on the other side of the world.
In Australia I had always worked with books, spending years in bookshops and then publishing, so in Paris I was determined to hunt down something similar. I wasn’t too daunted. This was one of the rare cities of the world that revered writers and the arts and still had hundreds of bookshops in every corner. After meeting George and Sylvia Whitman I started at Shakespeare and Company.
Sylvia had just taken over running the bookshop from her 90-year-old father and they both interviewed me, George reminiscing about his time at Manly eating fish and chips and asking if I thought he should cut his hair. At this point George was still involved, hauling boxes of books at opening and throwing the odd book or two down from his third floor apartment onto the heads of people working or living in the shop. In the beginning there were a few scattered events with self-published poets – since then I have been organising the weekly events and co-directing our literary festival FestivalandCo.
At Shakespeare and Company we do one event per week – on Monday night at 7pm without fail – or if there is a fail it’s rare and for a reason. Mostly authors are introduced, speak about their work and read a few delectable passages. People love it. Anglophones who live in Paris, tourists and Parisians all come to the bookshop to listen and discover a writer they know or don’t. They’re good old fashioned readings and there’s a pleasure in that, a pleasure in listening to someone else tell you a story.
My posts here are going to be anything and everything from literary Paris based on my experiences– some linked to Shakespeare and Company and some linked what’s happening here in France more generally…
Tags: literary Paris