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I just walked in the door from the closing dinner of the Paris Writers’ Workshop which was held at the fabulously Parisian restaurant Le Bouillon des Colonies. Tonight marked my introduction to this restaurant. The decor was utterly Parisian in that 1920s, slightly tacky and overdone, height-of-American-passion-for-France kind of way. I’ll have to go back and sample their regular menu (I’ll use an excuse!), for as a group of 50 we had a preset dinner of chilled mint and potato soup (surprisingly delicious), confit de canard and an apricot/spicy bread combo for dessert, classic French cuisine.

Besides our closing dinner, this week has been a pretty intoxicating experience. Not only was I blessed to have Mimi Schwartz’ as a writing coach for last five days and to have a wonderfully talented and supportive group, but I also took part in a number of panel discussions highlighting some pretty remarkable people.

In my last post, I spoke of Alex Lobrano, Stephen Clarke and Chris Tilghman. But it doesn’t end with them. I had the great pleasure of meeting fellow Parisian blogger and writer Sion Dayson of paris (im)perfect, an eloquently written, insightful and fun blog I greatly enjoy.

I also had the enormous pleasure of hearing spoken word poet Aja Monet recite one of her poems. I cannot tell you how blown away I was by her talent, and then when I spoke with her later in the afternoon I was equally impressed by her humility and genuine nature. She preformed at President Obama’s pre-inauguration event and I truly haven’t been as touched by someone’s spoken words in a very long time. Check out a clip from Aja’s Youtube site. Here’s another video of her poetry, although I can’t find the exact poem online that she recited while with us in Paris this week.

I was also very happy to meet up with fellow blogger corey m. p. who has been blogging daily about her experiences in the fiction workshop with Chris Tilghman. Corey gave a wonderful reading of the first chapter of her current manuscript today, which did indeed sound quite promising!

Thirza Vallois is yet another distinguished author I met up with during this workshop/conference. Author of a dozen books on Paris, including the Around and About Paris guides, Thirza is the renown anglo-expert on all things Parisian. Her books are based on incredible amounts of research, dabbing in back story and historical fact whenever possible to paint a complete, otherwise unseen and fascinating picture of the ancient city. In person, Thirza is sweet as she could possible be. I read a number of her books before I moved to Paris and I’d recommend them to all Francophiles and anyone interested in the Paris.

Paul Schmidtberger, author of Design Flaws of the Human Condition, is another fabulous Paris-based author I had the pleasure of running into at the PWW. He moderated one of the panel discussions and afterwards we got to talking about living in Paris as American expats. I have yet to read his book, but I’m heading out tomorrow morning to pick up a copy! I’ve heard wonderful things! Here’s a quick teaser I pulled from his site: “Set in Manhattan – the conniption capital of the world – a riotously funny and fresh debut novel about anger, infidelity, and friendship. Design Flaws of the Human Condition explores these universal themes with wisdom, compassion, and a wickedly irreverent sense of humor.”

And, before I forget, I met a couple of other Parisian experts whose sites might be of interest to those of you living in Paris or coming over for a visit:

  • Paris through expat eyes written by Terrance Gelenter, a delightfully informative site about all things Parisian: food, accommodation, travel services, tours.
  • Parler Paris managed by Adrian Leeds, two very useful resources for tourists wishing to come over to Paris and rent an apartment rather than staying in a hotel or for those who would like to purchase property in the French capital.

I’ll write more about the specifics of the creative non-fiction workshop for my fellow writers after a good night’s sleep. This week as worn me slap out!

A plus tard et bonne nuit de Paris.