Interview with Agnès Poirier
Programs manager Grant Rosenberg interviews journalist Agnès Poirier about her earliest memories using a library, how she got into writing about the Left Bank, and what recent book she recommends.
What are some of your early library memories?
As a child, I used to go every week with my mother Nicole to the public library on rue de Picpus, just a few metres away from the Picpus cemetery where Lafayette is buried. I loved the routine of going there and having so many books to choose from. As a student, I loved studying in Paris’ libraries, from Sainte Geneviève on Place du Panthéon, to the Pompidou Centre library, open every day of the week and closing late!
How did you come to be interested in the idea of writing about the Left Bank and that time period specifically?
It’s a conversation I was having with my previous publisher at Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Alan Samson, who is a great francophile and Paris lover. And I wondered whether there was any connection between all the people who populated Paris after the war. We know them individually of course through dozens of monographs but I soon found out that nothing had been written about their interconnection and exchanges. So I joined the dots.
What have you been reading lately that you recommend?
I have been reading Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin. I love the way she blends personal memories, the literary work of women artists and writers, and places. We share a common passion for walking in cities and appropriating them for ourselves.