Bilbao in my dreams

Yesterday was a day of meeting Bilaoans, including several poets! In the photo below, I’ve just finished a terrific lunch with my Bilbao Greeter, Marivi Puente (great that her last name means “bridge”). The man with the beard and sungasses is the poet Javier Arnaiz; the middle two are the restaurant owners, and Marivi is on the far left. Later in the day I met another poet named Santiago Liveral and we exchanged books.

What an amazing idea/experience this Bilbao Greeters is. Www.bilbaogreeters.com. I found it by chance on the internet.

But I must get this word down: Tzakoli, which sounds like “chokoli.” that’s the white wine I’m drinking in the cafe Iruna down the block from my hotel, a place with photos of Hemingway on the walls.

The main thing I want to say is why I’m an hispanophile and an italophile (and it remains to be seen if I’ll become a francophile): relationships with other people count more than anything. Bilbao has an ongoing cafe/bar life that is as true for twenty-somethings as it is for eighty-somethings.

What has happened to NYC? Where I’m lucky if I see a friend every 3 months. And I hear my experience is not dissimilar from many others.

It’s difficult to post from a place where I’m too busy living, though it was interesting to see how quickly the conversation turned to money and the fact that no one in Spain buys poetry books. Sound familiar?

But there is a group called Noches Poeticas that puts on performance evenings in various spaces, including bars: an evening that intermingles poetry with music and theater. As supposedly, everyone is rapt during the poetry recitations. Perhaps Bob Holman’s Bowery Poetry Club comes the closest to achieving that idea. They’ve finished their programs for the summer, but I’d love to return some day to jam with the locals.

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