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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

B.P.: She was my wife 

Some additional detail about Peret's seeming reluctance to talk about Elsie Houston later in his life. Here's the passage from his biographer, Jean-Louis Bedouin:

Essentially, Peret and Bedouin happen to be at a Paris Museum. A Brazilian folksong is playing, the singer's voice "chaude et belle." As the museum guide begins to say the singer's name, Peret cuts in and says, "She was my wife." This was the first time Peret had ever mentioned this fact to his friend, Bedouin. [Don't be fooled. I don't know French, only the URL to babel fish...]
(Parallel to the episode from Paul Bowles's book, where E.H. hears Bowles play a song based on a Peret poem, and says "That's me.")

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The beginning and the end are missing, but here's a direct translation of what's visible:

[...] is still marked for him by his marriage to Elsie Houston, a Brazilian singer whose recording I recall having heard one day in Péret's company at the Musée de la Parole in Paris, without knowing who she was. It was folkloric songs; the voice was warm and beautiful. As the museum employee began to talk to us about the singer, Péret cut him off: "She was my wife." It was the first time that I heard him talk [...]
Thanks, Daniella
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