18/02/2009

An Arthur Rimbaud Drift

It was whilst living at No 8 in 1873 that both poets produced some of their most important work, probably including Rimbaud's Une Saison en Enfer and Illuminations. Rimbaud and Verlaine are as important to French poetry as Wordsworth and Coleridge are to English poetry, and like those poets have a continuing impact on culture worldwide, generating scholarly research, exhibitions, books, films, and theatrical and musical works.

A unique opportunity has arisen for the rebirth of this 4 storey Georgian house and its development as an important cultural centre, celebrating Anglo-French cultural connections. The house, which retains its original structure, is only a few hundred yards from the new Eurostar terminal at St Pancras and could be a magnet for the millions of French visitors arriving there. Michael Corby, the new owner of No.8, has just completed a sympathetic restoration of the property and supports the idea of developing it as a cultural space, supporting poetry and valuable educational and social engagement work in schools and the local community.

Poet in the City is leading efforts to secure the future of the house as a cultural centre. It has joined forces with Gerry Harrison, the former Camden councillor, Aidan Andrew Dun, the poet of King's Cross, and the many artists, poets and supporters who have campaigned over a number of years to save the house and secure its recognition as an important Anglo-French literary landmark.

The charity has established a group known as the Friends of No 8 and is actively seeking a corporate sponsor or other entity willing to take a 10 year lease in the property with a view to its development as an important exhibition space, home for poetry, and community resource.

If you would like to know more about the Rimbaud and Verlaine house, receive details of sponsorship (in French or in English), or become a Friend of No 8, please contact Poet in the City, c/o Dechert LLP, 160 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4QQ, telephone 07908 367488 or info@poetinthecity.co.uk or visit the Poet in the City website at www.poetinthecity.co.uk

In the meantime, you may like to participate in a guided walk about Rimbaud being led by the distinguished poet Niall McDevitt :

Niall McDevitt leads a poetic walk following in the footsteps of the legendary Frenchman's 14 months in London with - and without - his fellow poet and sometime lover Paul Verlaine.

Sun 22 February meeting at 2pm by the Eleanor Cross in the forecourt of Charing Cross station. £5/£3(unwaged)

(Please note: this walk will take a few hours and cover a few miles on its course to the Rimbaud/Verlaine House in Royal College Street. No lightweights! Please bring ideal overcoats, ideal footwear, ideal sandwiches, ideal beverages etc. Treat it as pilgimage.)

"HERE IS THE HOLY CITY, SEATED IN THE WEST!"

In association with FRIENDS OF NO.8, a collective whose aim is to run the Rimbaud/Verlaine House as a cultural centre in honour of the poets.