So many things go well with booze: pizza, Will Ferrell movies, bowling, frat parties and… poetry?

Yes. Poetry.

Our new LitMash partnership with Haymarket Brewery was quite the success, primarily because a Portland Allagash goes so well with a SlamWorks Allegory. Thanks, I’ll be here all week.

But seriously folks, on Oct. 26th we had the Slam League de France champions in town to present The French Connection 2, a unique presentation with poets working in tandem to present full-scale, stylized performance poems in two languages at once. It went over splendidly thanks in part to the Riff Nightclub’s great beer selection – and the magnifique talent des poètes Français.

Charles Baudelaire, one of France’s most popular poets of the 19th century, spent much of his life writing about the ephemeral experience of living in the intense urban environment of Paris. Many of his essays and poetry were heavily influenced by his love of beer and wine, which were part of a lifestyle that inspired his image as a carefree dandy. His famous poem “Get Drunk” is an ode to the marriage of liquor and poetry, although to be honest, he’s talking more about getting drunk off life.


“Get Drunk” – Charles Baudelaire

Il faut être toujours ivre.
Tout est là:
c’est l’unique question.
Pour ne pas sentir
l’horrible fardeau du Temps
qui brise vos épaules
et vous penche vers la terre
il faut vous enivrer sans trêve.
Mais de quoi?
De vin, de poésie, ou de vertu, à votre guise.
Mais enivrez-vous.
Et si quelquefois
sur les marches d’un palais
sur l’herbe verte d’un fossé
dans la solitude morne de votre chambre
vous vous réveillez
l’ivresse déjà diminuée ou disparue
demandez au vent
à la vague
à l’étoile
à l’oiseau
à l’horloge
à tout ce qui fuit
à tout ce qui gémit
à tout ce qui roule
à tout ce qui chante
à tout ce qui parle
demandez quelle heure il est;
et le vent
la vague
vous répondront:
“Il est l’heure de s’enivrer!
Pour n’être pas les esclaves martyrisés du Temps,
enivrez-vous sans cesse!
De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise.”


An English translation by Louis Simpson

You have to be always drunk.
That’s all there is to it—it’s the only way.
So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.
But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.
And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch
in the mournful solitude of your room
you wake again
drunkenness already diminishing or gone,
ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock
everything that is flying
everything that is groaning
everything that is rolling
everything that is singing
everything that is speaking. . .
ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you:

“It is time to be drunk!

So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk!
On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”

We’d like to think that Baudelaire would have been a Chicago Slam Works regular, taking in the beauty of the spoken word at Haymarket Brewery, the Uptown Slam at The Green Mill or any other of our performance poetry events where one seeks to be drunk…

“…on wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”