July 19, 2010

Where there's mist for hire if it's just too clear

Walter Robinson, Run On, 2008

* Esoteric mystery solved. excerpt:

There's a Julian Cope song called 'Metranil Vavin.' It is a great song. In his book Head-On, Mr. Cope says that the song (which was first recorded by The Teardrop Explodes and appears on their posthumous record Everybody Wants To Shag The Teardrop Explodes) was inspired by his love for Russian dwarf poet Metranil Vavin. The only problem with this is that no one has ever been able to find any poems by Metranil Vavin.
I did a bit of research... Googling was no help whatsoever, of course, so I turned to the subscription biographical and author databases. Nothing on Metranil, but I did find a reference to a 'Metro Vavin' (ungoogleable because the Paris subway station takes over). So this morning I followed up on that at the library and discovered the truth!

Metranil Vavin is not the invention of Julian Cope. He is the invention of American poet Clayton Eshleman, who in 1975 published a book called The Gull Wall, which contained 'The 9 Poems of Metro Vavin.' In a page-long intro to these nine poems, Eshleman claims that a hastily-written note from a friend led to his confusing the name of a Paris Metro stop — Metro Vavin — with a person he was supposed to look up. In so doing, he stumbled across a 64-year-old Russian dwarf named Metranil Vavin, who had only been called 'Metro' as a small child, by his parents. Upon meeting, though, Eshleman tells the dwarf that he is a poet, and Vavin then reveals these nine poems — the only poems he has ever written! — which he has translated from their original Russian into crude French. Eshleman then claims that he has translated these naive works into English.

Looking at books about Clayton Eshleman was no help in ascertaining that this was a hoax, until I consulted an annotated bibliography, which noted: Notes: "The 9 Poems of Metro Vavin" were written by Clayton Eshleman. The persona of Metro Vavin was conceived by Eshleman, (see appendix A).
The question now is whether or not Julian Cope knew about the hoax.

-- you can read the poems here.

* Random beer fact: "Pabst Brewery produced the first six-pack of beer in the 1940s. The brewery conducted numerous studies, which found six cans were the ideal weight for the average housewife to carry home from the store."

* "Nobody running at full speed has either a head or a heart." -- W.B. Yeats


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