Monday, July 28, 2014

London: Word-Style – Poet - Betsy de Lotbiniere

I am a picture

taking a

picture of

a picture

waiting for


which is instant

these days

Betsy de Lotbiniere

London: Word-style.  American born Betsy de Lotbiniere is a poet, writer and curator living in London.  At home she is surrounded by words and phrases which inspire her. Here are some of the stories, memories and inspirations behind them.   “I say a thousand words are better than any picture.” She states.  Her latest essays can be read in, This Is Not A Book About Gavin Turk, edited by Rachel Newsome

The Dining Room - Mantelpiece - I am a picture poem postcard. This poem came to me one rainy night when I saw two identical twins at a bus shelter. About 16 years old, these gangly boys were wearing the same striped t-shirt and black jeans.  One twin took out his phone and started taking flash photographs of his twin, the other twin laughed then took out his phone and was taking flash photographs of the other twin. As they kept doing it, they became more and more hysterical in their laughter, exchanging phones, snapping and trading back again and you had a feeling their souls were merging into one.  I wanted to capture that feeling of disorientation, of loosing track of where one thing ends and another begins.  Also what it’s like to have grown up in an analogue world, where you had to wait for image results, now living in a digital world where everything is instant.”
The Bull. My sun sign is Taurus.  My friend, the brilliant artist, Victor Pimstein, who lives in Spain is also Taurean.  We get a lot of teasing for being bullish.  But then everyone goes quiet when you mention the top two Taureans: Shakespeare and the Buddha.  Victor, who lives in Barcelona, gave me the bull for Christmas and is always really pleased to see it on display when he visits.

The Dining Room – The Boxes of Art - No Place Like Home. “How soulful a place is can be measured by how many objects made by the hands of its inhabitants surround you.  These beautiful boxes were made by my daughter Fausta. She is also a writer; she produced her first play, Shallow Breath, this year.”

I was born, lucky me
In a land that I love
Though I am poor, I am free
When I grow I shall fight
For this land I shall die
Let her sun never set

The Dining Room – Framed Posters. “These posters were given away at the Frieze Art Fair in London several years back.  I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember the artist’s name.  I just adore the power of what may seem like a very strong, positive, almost innocent message about national identity, yet when applied to the Holy Land, in three different languages, the result is deadly. Reminds me of the Bob Dylan's song, With God on Our Side.”
The Drawing Room – No Smoking in the Courtroom sign. “The last place I lived in America was in an apartment on 7th Street between Avenues A and B.  At that time (early 80’s) the East Village was a very rough and tumble place crammed with artists and small galleries.  You could get plenty of cocktails and some groceries but you couldn’t buy anything useful, like a hammer or a pair of jeans.  Each street had a different drug associated with it.  7th was a cocaine street which meant you had a lot of jumped up Puerto Ricans and Cubans cleaning their cars with vigor and gusto to blaring Salsa music at 2 in the morning on a summer’s night.  I found this sign on a skip.  It’s been making me laugh for 30 years.”

The Kitchen – Fridge Magnets. “I was given a bunch of fridge magnets with Shakespearean insults.  Keep Calm and Write On, helps me when the anxiety of writing sends me to the fridge.  Reminds me to shut the door and go back to the computer.”


The Stairs. “I love sitting in window seats and I wanted to encourage other people to do so too. So I wrote this poem



faster than



-and catch


I always meant to carpet those stairs but I never have the money and anyway I’m sentimental about covering up that memory.”

Ring Bell if you

feel Love

The Stairs:  Landing – Blackboard. “There are two bells.  One has a clapper and the other one doesn’t.  A kind of a Zen joke.  Like the one about the tree falling in the wood and if no one hears it, has the tree really fallen? It’s always a nice thing when you’re downstairs sitting in the drawing room and you hear the bell ring because it means one of your friends is happy.”

The Bathroom. Let’s Get Lost poster.  “I was freshly married and we were living in Rome when this Bruce Weber film was being shot and our friend, the late, great, Kermit Smith was their distributor.  Being huge Chet Baker fans we were thrilled to be invited to the wrap party outside of Rome which Bruce Weber shot and put in the end.  Chet Baker died falling out of a window in Amsterdam the year the film came out.  He was only 59.”

The Bathroom. Mirror - Yankees Ticket.  “We were lucky enough to go to one of the last games played in the old Shea Stadium in New York City.  It was one of those glorious summer days where everything hums with heatJeter was playing and the game was good.”

  Good Morning

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