Wednesday 31 May 2023

From Becca Liu and Ethan Plaue

30 April - 31 May 2023

Our time in the Poetry Garrett and in Paris was nothing short of phenomenal. We arrived at the end of the pension protests at the end of April 2023 and were immediately astonished by the energy of a contemporary workers’ movement that engulfed the metropolis, a massive worker-led movement that would be hard to find in the United States these days. 

That set the tone for the rest of our time in Paris, as we discovered time and again that Parisians daily fight an encroaching “spiritual death,” as one friend back home in the States called it, that comes with exhortations to endless work, to austerity, to self-abnegation, to the “good enough” life. This, at least, was our impression of Paris, coming from a difficult year in New York. All this inevitably made it into our poetry, as Ethan edited his first collection of poems into a book and Becca wrote new poems inspired by watching the low sky rumble across the Poetry Garret’s window, the easefulness in the quiet corners of the Luxembourg Gardens, the daily pleasures that Parisians take to keep a feeling of equilibrium, to slow down, even to stay put at a cafe for hours into the night, the sense that one knows how to live well rather than merely live — these were the things we gravitated toward and tried to express in our poetry. 

We took turns writing at the kitchen table and on the couch — Elizabeth was kind enough to allow both of us to stay in the Garret at the same time! When we took breaks from writing, it was to eat dinners by the Seine, to walk the hills of Montmartre, to immerse ourselves in what we were reading at the time (Hegel and Henry James), to wander through architecturally and visually-stunning streets that were already steeped in an atmosphere of poetry, and to enjoy the quiet din of a sunny Paris afternoon in May. To have had the time and space and spirit to return to poetry for both us was an amazing gift. Thank you, Elizabeth Hansen and Rebecca Molloy, for making this residency possible!

Friday 18 November 2022

From George Titheridge

17 Oct - 18 Nov 2022

When I first arrived, I met Phoebe Eccles. She had a great style and was so welcoming. She suggested we go for a beer to help settle me in. Over a drink at a bistro nearby, she told me about her time at the apartment. I was sad she was not around to hang out longer with me because we got along well, and I am excited to read her poems. 

In the apartment, I unpacked and then walked around the neighbourhood to orient myself. I panicked a little at my lack of French and spent the night making the apartment my own, and I pinched myself at the reality of being in Paris for five weeks to write full-time.

Overcoming my language anxiety, I soon got into a rhythm of a morning coffee and croissant, then a walk around the neighbourhood—the Luxembourg Garden was such a nice, relaxing place to go, no matter the weather. Then I would go back to the apartment and write, read, watch a film, and make dinner. 

Sitting at the little window and looking out at the city's skyline gave me a lot of peace and enjoyment. The apartment is filled with the energy of people who have written here before me, and the city is always humming. 

I made sure to go to lots of theatre, art shows, and different areas of Paris. I was really impressed by the standard of everything I saw, which was incredibly inspiring. I expected to get lonely, but with so much to do, I felt busy and inspired the whole time. 

Five weeks seemed to go by so fast, and I was very sad to leave. On my last day, the next resident, Evie Ward, arrived, and we spent the day together having food and, later, some drinks. It felt so nice to pass the keys onto her, and I am excited to have met another really talented poet. 

I loved my time at the Trelex residency in Paris. I want to send a heartfelt thank you to Elizabeth Hansen and Rebecca Molloy for helping organise my stay. I hope to return one day soon as I miss my full-time Paris writer life! 

Monday 17 October 2022

From Phoebe Eccles

28 Aug - 17 Oct 2022

Not having been to Paris prior to the residency (I used to feel like I was the only person in the world who hadn’t been to Paris), I was unprepared for its maximalist beauty. I spent my first few days holed up inside the garret, hiding from the spectacle so that I could finish my master’s thesis, a long poem which will be published this September.

Usually I am a morning person, but at the residency I got into the habit of staying up late at night writing and then sleeping in until 10 or 11am. I would emerge from the garret, slow and bleary, and purchase a pain au chocolat, usually at café madame, and an espresso, and I would take both to Jardin du luxembourg, and I would put my feet up on a green chair and read.

I read poetry by Diane Seuss, Louise Gluck, Lyn Heijinian, Denise Riley, J. H. Prynne, John James, Anna Mendelssohn, and Ilya Kaminsky. I read Runaway by Alice Munro, One thing I know by Pati Hill, Murphy by Samuel Beckett, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein, Either/Or by Elif Batuman, and, after finding a copy at my favourite English language bookshop, San Francisco Book Co, I reread Who Will Run The Frog Hospital by Lorrie Moore.

I even read some of The Space of Literature by Maurice Blanchot. This text helped me think about what it means to be writing, or what it means to (try to) be a writer. I wrote a series of poems about Franz Kafka’s loneliness as a way of thinking through why one might choose to be alone, romantically and/or geographically.

My friend Teddy, an artist living in the north of Paris, saved me from too much introspection by taking me to galleries. I loved the Pinault Collection at the Bourse de Commerce, but my favourite place was the magical Gustave Moreau museum.

Paris taught me to how to see. I learnt that paintings, buildings and films could be all read like how poems are read.

Most days I walked down Rue de Fleurs and gave a respectful nod to Stein’s house. Stein is an important writer to me. She taught me to find aesthetic pleasure in linguistic confusion. Often I walked around the Montparnasse cemetery, locating the resting places of Simone de Beauvoir, Charles Baudelaire, and Beckett. Once I travelled to Père Lachaise, to lay a rose on the grave of my favourite writer, Marcel Proust.

I feel most at home in busy cities, probably because I grew up in London. Like Frank O’Hara, I am moved and inspired by urbanism. The juxtaposition of the peaceful solitude of the garret with the surging life-force of the chattering terraces summoned a useful tension. Not being a French speaker, I could not fully integrate into the happenings of Paris. Positioned at a distance, I admired the city as if it was the greatest, the most dazzling epic poem.

One evening I cycled to the American library to see a Q and A with the poet Eileen Myles. In response to one question, Myles said that women and queer people come of age through two events: the first act of sexual violence committed against them, and the first time they decide to write. I turned 30 during my time at the residency, and I was considering my personal history, and how it came to be that I believed that writing was important. I was writing a lot of diary entries, the kind of writing that isn’t meant to be seen, the purpose of which is a kind of self-knowledge.

I am so grateful to Elizabeth for giving me the opportunity to roam around Paris for seven weeks, amongst the homes and graves of writers who have made me who and what I am. I value not just the time I had for writing, but the space I had for thinking, for considering the act of writing, in conjunction with exploring the city, with that feeling of solitude, with that feeling of loss that is actually very giving, the giving-ness I suppose that comes with deliberately not being at home.

Monday 18 July 2022

From Claire Watt

18 July - 29 August 2022

My time in the poetry garret was one of inspiration and connection. From the start, I decided I wanted to take this opportunity to throw myself into the Parisian literary scene, and the garret, located in the heart of the city, was the perfect place to do this.

As soon as I put down my bags, opening the window to the sight of the beautiful Haussmann architecture around me, I made a beeline for the little plastic folder on the bookshelf of the garret, containing tips from previous residents. My mind reeled–there was an entire page with suggested contacts and events to help you feel more at home. Everything from regular poetry readings to the email addresses of local writers–it was the best welcome I could have asked for. I was privileged enough to go for a walk with the poet Cole Swensen and grab a drink with the visual artist Sabine Macher, both of whom inspired my writing. Whilst Cole showed me around the tranquil Jardin du Luxembourg, Sabine took me to the bustling neighbourhoods around Riquet. We talked poetry and Paris and both helped me explore new directions in my writing. I also met several times with Alice Notley in relation to my PhD research on the New York School, which again fed into my creative practice.

I equally explored the Paris writing scene in a group setting, going along to the open mic nights at Culture Rapide and the Sunday workshops at Au Chat Noir. I found a community of writers at Au Chat Noir who made me feel incredibly welcome, and a tributary group of us began meeting up in a particularly friendly member’s Parisian apartment for extra writing sessions over beer and wine. Meeting people from such different writing backgrounds, including many expats and French speakers, was formative for my writing process. In particular, one of the writers with whom I connected is also a visual artist, and the way in which she mixes images of art and light into her written work precipitated a shift in my own writing–what if I could go beyond the influences of the page alone? I pushed myself to try ekphrastic poetry, comic poetry and to seize the city streets as a flâneur. I am now shaping these eclectic poems into a chapbook, and two of my poems are forthcoming in the August issue of Tears in the Fence.

My poetry was fed by the buzz of Paris. Looking out of the window of the garret, you feel as though you’re in the centre of it all, and it’s true–the city is quite literally on your doorstep. Locally, I enjoyed grabbing coffee from Loutsa (the lady there is extremely smiley) and a pain au chocolat from Le Café Pierre Hermé. I spent most of my days walking–down Canal St Martin, around République, through La Marais, or sitting in the oasis of quiet which is tucked away behind Pont Neuf. My poetry was fueled by the streets and by tiny galleries like 59 Rue du Rivoli, a set of artist studios which are ever-changing and open to the public. By night, I immersed myself in the jazz scene, exploring Duc du Lombards and La Gare, amongst others, and often grabbed drinks or a crêpe on Rue Mouffetard. I enjoyed walking at night, catching a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower between the trees or across the Seine, whenever I could. 

I have always found Paris inspiring, but living in the centre for a snatch of time and just being able to write added a new colour to it–a hue of artistic energy I still carry with me now. There is perhaps no greater pleasure than to sit in Jardin du Luxembourg with a pen and a piece of paper in the summer (especially if you can find one of the reclining chairs), watching the tiny model boats circle round and round on the central pond. I am so grateful to Elizabeth for this residency and the space and time to write which it offers; it truly is a unique experience and I look forward to returning in the future. 

Sunday 12 June 2022

From Donna Glee Williams

14 March - 12 June 2022

It’s been a year since my blessed, blissed-out stay at the Trelex Poetry Garret.  I’ve had time to let the water still, the bubbles rise, and the sand settle out, and here’s what I think:

I came to Paris when my latest novel (The Night Field, Quercus, 2023 was in the hands of editors, sensitivity readers, proofreaders.  Tears had been shed, therapist consulted, as my British publication team did their level best to “Anglicize” my oh-so-American voice.  A bit battered, a bit starved, I hungered to settle into my poet-brain again. That’s what Trelex did for me.

I wrote beside Baudelaire’s grave. (I left him a little note.) Beside de Beauvoir’s.  Beside the tomb of Heloise and Abelard.  Along the banks of the Seine. In too many cathedrals to name. In a corner niche of Shakespeare and Company.  And, good God almighty, in Les Deux Magots.

Something else I did—maybe not as important as the actual writing, but still—was taking the time to submit. It turned out that, when I got down to it, I’d been writing a fair amount of raw poetry through the whole process of bringing my beloved The Night Field to life.  But I hadn’t done the work of revisiting, mining, polishing, and submitting my raw scrawls.  Paris gave me time to do carry some of those efforts over the goal line, raking in a good bundle of rejections, but some acceptances, too—include one I’m particularly proud of, to come out in the summer of 2023 in SageWoman to a much larger general audience than most of my poetry has reached.

Here’s why I urge my creative friends to sign up for Trelex:

1. Paris. ‘Nuff said

2. Novelty. We are the offspring of a zillion generations of creatures who hoarded their energy by relaxing in familiar surroundings and rousing to high-level alertness in novel situations that might pose new survival challenges. We are evolutionarily programmed to have our minds and senses be more awake in new environments. Mind and senses awake—that’s what you need to write poetry

3. Escape from responsibilities and routines.  When we are not sliding along the deep grooves of our daily habits and jobs, anything can happen. And, in Paris, it does!

4. Escape from the people who know us and know how we will react.  When you walk with strangers, you can be anyone you want, try on new identities, new personalities. No one will know.  No one will tell on you. You can take a new name, dress differently, write differently.  

When my residency began, Paris was in the middle of a covid surge as steep as the Eiffel Tower. I’m an old woman, one of the people that really shouldn’t get covid if they can possibly dodge it. So I didn’t do everything I would have done if I’d gone before our world changed in 2020, and I grieved for that.  Restaurants, shows, talking with strangers—not so much.  But I decided that if this was the Paris I was offered, this was the Paris I would take.  And, when the world goes dark, I will be able to say that I was a poet in Paris. 

I hope you will be, too.

Saturday 30 April 2022

From Mari Amman

 28 Feb - 30 April 2023

Two months in Paris was just enough time for me to complete 4 books of poetry and enjoy a few of the abundant, cultural attractions. Of course, one could live an entire life in Paris and not see all it has to offer. The location of the residency made it easy for me to get everywhere I like on my favourite mode of transportation: foot. I prefer to take in my surroundings step-by-step in its entirety. There are metros nearby for anyone who is braver to those systems than I. 

I really cannot say enough good about the residency. The sense of liberty is underscored by the shared ethos in my life along with everyone involved the Trélex Residencies. Rebecca always goes out of her way to make sure everything is covered. I was able to have a small envelope delivered to me while in Paris. I used my Norwegian Artist membership to gain access to some of the art museums I had wanted to see. Vérité is my icon in life, and so I was delighted to get to see that at Musée d’Orsay. 

The groceries were more affordable than I am used to in Norway, and I found myself feeling quite literally elevated up in the heavens writing poems with the sound of birdsongs. Even though I had endured a monumental time for Parisians, Rebecca and Nina remained accommodating if I felt in danger during the riots. I simply stayed inside and got my work done. I not once felt unsafe. I also had the great fortune to meet Elizabeth for brunch at Café Judy which I also recommend from the list of things suggested to residents to explore. 

The neighbourhood is beautiful and very nice. Because I live a quite sheltered life in the nature, the city was busy but no busier than any other city I lived in before, so I found peace in the churches and accepted an invite to join a ceremony at St. Sulpice which offered communion and beautiful singing. Going for walks always helps me concentrate but in Paris I was inspired at every corner. The light and sights and sounds are unlike any place I’ve been. 

My biggest regret was not going to The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore first week I was there. Penelope was a delight and the bookshop is a real treasure alongside the wondrous Jardin du Luxembourg.

I plan to use the rest of the 2 months offered as soon as possible, because I felt inspired to write even more when I was there…even as I threatened to never write again, the life in Paris is happening everywhere. I had brought my camera along, and even though I felt totally uninspired due to tremendous life stresses before this residency; I felt inundated with inspiration while in Paris. I have so much to work with now.

Overall, The Trélex Residencies, both in Paris and Switzerland, have been profoundly productive for both my internal processes as a poet, artist, researcher and performer, and I am deeply grateful for the great support offered through the residencies to realise the deepening of my work for projects and exhibitions to come. 

The 4 books of poetry with analogue photography, Poetry, Prose &Suche, can be purchased as PDFs via email: 

The poems are also posted with audio recordings done in Paris, for the paid subscribers of

Tuesday 15 March 2022

From Maryam Monalisa Gharavi

 13 Jan - 15 March 2022

Published work from Maryam's residency period at The Poetry Garret can be seen here.