Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Greetings from Paris

One always expects to meet someone on the streets of Paris. On the Rue Daguerre in the 14th Arondissement in May one could run into anyone of note - Agnes Varda maintains her atelier on the street, and Irish poet John Montague used to live many years ago at #11. The Montparnasse cemetery, just a couple of blocks over has most of the people in Paris one would want to meet: Baudelaire, Robert Desnos, Julio Cortazar, Cesar Vallejo, Ionesco, new arrival Susan Sontag, and Samuel Beckett. And so, after a homage visit to Beckett's grave it was quite a fine surprise to run into one of Beckett's last late-life companions, John Montague, and his wife, novelist Elizabeth Wassel, about twenty steps from Montague's old address.

John Montague was writer-in-residence at the Writers Institute for nearly ten years and the the totally unanticipated chance of running into him and Elizabeth, who now live in Nice was, well, stunningly grand. One could do such things on Grafton Street in Dublin before Dublin became europeanized, but running into Montague in Paris on his home street after not seeing him for six years was cause for celebration, which was conducted in due time at the Cafe Prenet on Rue Daguerre. It doesn't get any better than that.

We will post some photos of Montague and Lizzie in due course and will tell more Paris stories.