Alice Ernestine Prin became Kiki, the Queen of Montparnasse, during the height of the Crazy Years when creativity and unbridled passion had reached a fever pitch. Kiki performed in cabarets, made art, posed nude, was incarcerated, starred in avant-garde silent films, modelled for Man Ray, Gargallo, Foujita, Kisling, Sandy Calder and others. Kiki is an homage to an era where freedom, innovation, l'amour fou, creative risk and celebration of life were paramount. Journal entries, silent film play-by-plays, cut ups, boldfaced lies, gossip and whimsy provide readers with playful and provocative fodder for their imaginations in order to recreate the spirit of Montparnasse between the wars. The author urges you to grab a glass of champagne and dance.
Amanda Earl is a poet, publisher and pornographer from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Amanda's most recent chapbooks are the 2012 chapbook Sex First & Then A Sandwich (her third chapbook with above/ground press) and Me, Medusa (Red Ceilings Press, UK, 2012). Her poetry appears in magazines such as Rampike, the White Wall Review, fillingStation, in addition to online and print journals in Australia, Canada, England, France, Ireland and the USA. Over the course of her research for this book, she has become fascinated with Montparnasse between the wars and is an avid appreciator of books, films, art and music from the era. Site: www.amandaearl.com; Twitter: @KikiFolle
“Inventive mash-ups, creative cut-ups, an emotional imaginary memoire: in Kiki, Amanda Earl turns ‘the crazy years’ of 1920s Montparnasse—les années folles—into poems folles, a playful, sensual and vivid world of language where the vital zeitgeist of artistic Paris becomes a sexy, surreal, witty and incisive verbal cabaret, ‘a mechanical contraption, all dancer. A star. '”—Gary Barwin
“In the deliriously surreal poems of her debut collection, Amanda Earl channels Kiki, celebrated Queen of Montparnasse, to take us on an absinthe-infused tour of 1920s Paris. In ‘Alice,’ Earl offers a compelling and sympathetic vision of Kiki, the sexually liberated ‘it girl’ drawn to bohemian life like a moth to flame. A complex portrait emerges of a free spirit earning her bread as muse and model to dozens of avant-garde artists who objectified her (she is Man Ray’s ‘made up doll, his ticket to Montparnasse’), revelling in the power of her sexuality (‘he is Kiki’s man’), and keenly feeling her vulnerability (‘I am a window made of paper, / a fragile silhouette that goes up in flames / with the merest touch of light’). Among my favourites: a drug-laced dream featuring Kiki and Williams Burroughs verbally sparring in a one-upmanship game of debauchery, and a Montparnasse mash-up in which ‘frizzy femmes damnées / shiver with Schwitters. ’ Les Années Folles never had it so deliciously decadent. Now grab a pack of Gauloises and a bottle of absinthe and slip into Kiki’s time machine. ..”—Camille Martin
“Describing this work calls for mixing as many metaphors as Ms. Earl mixes genres. It is as arresting as it is unique/ And you can set your brow high or low. This is serious, intense and fun. The book is a vision delivered through collage, a canvas populated by giants; a portrait of the unsung and overshadowed. There are clear days, there is fog. Kiki bestrides Montparnasse like a Colossus. Her vision is unclouded and her voice as pure as the rain. Each picture is starkly drawn and each flowers into a beautiful mosaic. Take a breath and it’s a finger painting in the Louvre. It lives behind a velvet rope and it’s stuck to the fridge with magnets. This is a musical composition celebrating a time and place. Celebrating love, sex, death. It is divided into movements; it is a Greatest Hits compilation. You can hum it, sing it, dance it with a friend. There is no single category to contain it. File it under Lucid Delirium. ”—Tom Walmsley
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