I Found the Hipsters!


I knew they were here.

Sure enough.

Le Chat Noir, open mic night drew them out in all their white skinny arm tousled hair black eye-glass framed glory.



You are so cute.

I could put you in my pocket and snuggle with you at night and we could talk about that book of poetry nestled next to your bike lock in the back pocket of your skinny jeans.

I was sitting on a padded stool texting the friend I was supposed to meet at the cafe.

The friend who never showed.

Thank you very much.

When I saw him pull up, rucksack on his back, long hair flowing, hipster beard just this side of scruffy, worn sweater riding up showing off the belt that held the lock on the right and soft covered book in the other pocket.

It was love at first sight.

I was home.

I heard poets from San Jose, CA.  Portland, New York, Brooklyn, England–London–and another town I did not catch, a stand up comedian, who is an American in Berlin performing comedy while studying German, really awkward and annihilating, great comedy, a French chanteuse, all of 8 years old (her dad was there playing guitar) who opened the show with a duet of songs, a really horrible reading from a girl who read, and slaughtered a Charlie Chaplin speech, and I heard a new poet who I was quite taken with–James Jules.

No idea who he is, however he was the “headliner” of sorts, or better, the feature.

The sets run seven people deep and each person gets five minutes and is gently, depending upon the level of intoxication of the host, which increased as the night went forward, or abruptly pulled off stage.

There are three sets the first starts at 9pm and is the set most attended.

I suspect the performers are there early to get those slots.

I arrived a little late as I got, wait for it, lost.

But not too lost.

I am still getting lost, but not nearly as bad.  I generally have an idea of the direction now and get my bearings a lot quicker.

I walked into the cafe and did not see my friend and it was tight and narrow and crammed with people scribbling in notebooks, a gargle of languages being tossed about in the maw of the bar and spat into my ears.

I could not understand a bit of what was happening, where the stage was, how to sign up, whom to talk to.

However, I had at least done a small bit of research before heading out. Click here to check it out. I saw a man standing in the corner of the cafe talking with a rather tall man with a beret, yes, and glasses, and yes, leather patches on elbows.

The man in the corner was wearing a top hat.

He’s the ring master I thought.

I approached.

“Do you know where I can sign up for the open mic?” I asked.

He looked rather startled, “that’s me,” he said and pulled out a black soft covered moleskin.

I wanted to say that I recognized his hat from the photo on the website, but the moment passed.

He flipped it open, “Yup, I have a few spots left, third set, you’re number six, what’s your name?”


“Carmen, ok, excellent.”  He placed the moleskin back in his pocket and continued with the conversation he was having with beret man, turning away from me to drink from his glass of beer.

I made my way outside, where I spotted hipster poet man pulling up on his bike, texted my friend letting her know I wasn’t going onto until the third set.

Plenty of time to get nervous.

I ordered a Perrier avec citron at the bar and made my way downstairs.

Gratefully I got a seat on the last bench in the very back of the room, it ended up being the spot to be in, as I also got asked on a date from the man who ended up sitting next to me the rest of the evening.

A man who stayed to hear me perform after his brother, mother, friend, sister and sister’s date left to catch the Metro.  They were all there for the brother who was performing.

I hit it off with the mum, Joyce, who is from London and had the most interesting story.  I lent her an elastic band.  It was hot in the room the press of bodies, the weather finally warming, the nerves of the performers providing extra sizzle in the small space.

She pulled her blonde hair up into a high pony and we chatted in between the first and second set.  She was married to a man from South Africa and moved from London to Paris with her then three-year old daughter and they adopted two boys.

One of whom ended up after the re-shuffling of seats that generally occurs in a pub space between sets–the trips to the loo, the bar, the outdoors to smoke a cigarette–sitting next to me.

We hit it off after stifling laughter at a poet who was performing and was so bad he was funny.  Which we both figured was the point, the schtick of it, he was rather like the comedian Stephen Wright.  Juan’s mum, that’s his name, I know as I gave him my phone number when he asked to take me out for a drink, thought the poet was actually being a poet and hushed the two of us as we sat helplessly shaking with suppressed laughter when the poet spoke of the Gerber daisy in the champagne glass dying in the window.

God I hope it was a schtick.

If not, we were horribly rude, but it had to have been a joke, it was just so bad.

Not as bad as the girl from San Jose who read a personal narrative, ie journal entry, that was so full of cliché and superlatives and adverbs and excessive “you knows” that it was hard to sit still.

Of course she made a point of coming up and engaging with me after it was over.

I was nice, mom, don’t worry.

I did not perform as well as I would have liked.  Took too long to get me up on stage and I was not hydrated enough, plus I had a big attack of nerves.  Juan was sweet telling me to breathe and offering to get me a glass of water, but it was too late and I was up.

Under the bright lights, in Paris, open mic.

My voice was not as full as I would like, I could feel the need for hydration to ease the words out, but I mustered through.  I also was going too fast, which I realized after the first stanza, I forced myself to breath and step into the poem.

And I nailed it.

I had them.

I could feel it.

They were with me and they leaned in and I delivered.

I did two pieces and I got great feedback.

I will go back.

I also found out that they have started a magazine and I will submit to it.  I will also be checking out a possible volunteer position with a writers group that needs some organizational help putting on readings by known authors and poets.

I will be getting my networking on.

And my voice out there.

Out here, in Paris.

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