Poetry Just Got Hot in Barcelona

Bar-hop to a lyrical beat in Barca, where words are served up alongside cocktails

Featured October 10 Words by Regina Winkle-Bryan
Illustration Alex Green
Poetry Just Got Hot in Barcelona


Madame Eva Leon (aka Kiely Sweatt) has been selling seductive sonnets for almost two years in Barcelona. Each month, you'll find Eva and her "poetry prostitutes" trading hot words for tips in sensuous bars in the centre of the city. As visitors arrive at the low-lit venue (which changes each month), Madame Eva greets them and shows them a photo album describing the guys and girls who will be reading poetry that night. Dressed in a black silk bodice, cheeks rouged and a sleek peacock feather poking from her cleavage, Eva plays the part of the madame very well.

After perusing the album, poetry fans must choose one of the 10 men or women who make up Barcelona's Poetry Brothel to read a poem to them. Notebooks in hand, each performer is dressed for the part. Sequined cocktail dresses, slick suits and sharp hats give these sonnet slingers an air of sultry mystery. It is key that poets are in character for the entire night. "I think we all have alter egos," says Eva. "This is a way to really get inside oneself or be someone completely different and let go."

Once you've chosen your performer, you'll be taken to a quiet corner of the bar and then read a selection of poems. When asked if the poems are all on the risqué side, Madame Eva says: "We have a range of themes and writing styles. We focus on erotica, death... pretty much any of the human emotions we can relate to at one time or another."

Madame Eva's night is fast becoming an essential Barcelona experience. It is multi-cultural and multi-lingual: there are Catalan, Spanish, American, French and Filipino poets all sharing sentiments in their own languages. The original Poetry Brothel was started in New York in 2006 by a group of students, and Kiely Sweatt was among the founders. When she arrived in Barcelona in 2008, she decided that this vibrant and edgy city was the perfect setting for the racy concept, so introduced it with great results. The next event will be held on 28 October at Bar Rouge (21 Calle Poeta Cabanyes). Entry costs €5; poetrybrothelbarcelona.blogspot.com

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