John TranterAustraliaWriting2009
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When I came to stay at the Civitella Ranieri, I had a new book of poetry -- my twenty-first -- half done. I was hoping to finish it during my stay, and I did, writing fifty-six "versions" of poems from Charles Baudelaire's 1861 collection "Les Fleurs du mal". My procedure was to take a rough English translation of many of the poems in Baudelaire's book and update it, transposing Baudelaire's concerns to the contemporary world. During my stay I found the other creative artists a very varied, companionable and friendly lot, and I looked forward to the busy chatter at lunch and dinner every day. I also appreciated the peaceful rural silence of the Umbrian countryside setting and the seemingly endless days of sunshine. The friendly staff was another pleasant surprise. Sometimes I think it was all a lovely dream.

- after Baudelaire


Glib bimbo, brown as lukewarm porter,
scented with ketosis and smoker’s breath, work of some freak fashion designer, Mephisto of the catwalk, fashionable goth:
compared to board meetings, to group travel, I prefer sex with you on the Astroturf, and when we play among the gloomy furniture, your eyes are beer taps with neon handles.


Through those fountains beaded with a chill dew you decant a brisk drink with a trace of bitters and a dash of methedrine to wake me up, a cocktail you might take before going to a movie:
"Dark Passage", perhaps, with its implausible coincidences and the lovely architecture of forties San Francisco.


(Civitella Ranieri, Umbertide, Italy, October 2009)