From Riverside Rooms At 6.30pm I cycle across the sparkling Thames to Pall Mall and The London Library in St James Square SW1. It’s The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, an international philanthropic programme devised by Rolex and run by a team at the company’s headquarters in Geneva. It seeks out highly talented young artists from around the world and brings them together with great masters for a year of creative collaboration in a one-to-one mentoring relationship.
It’s an inspirational venue and an inspirational reading by Hans Marcus Enzensberger and Tracy K Smith, mentor and protégé: respectively. She is a talented youthful black American poet and he a wise quick witted elder, white and Germanic poet and author. They could not look so different if they tried but they could not be so united if they tried either. Rather than pontificate about process they alternately read poems. It was beautiful.
I sensed them walking through night fields of each others words, brushing hands over each others sentences, staring into each others dark and moonlit clouds. And laughing. When pushed Enzensbergers meditation on the relationship of mentor and protégé was outstanding as was the reading. In the two I felt amongst the presence of wisdom as gift and respect as receipt. The event was introduced by Sir Tom Stoppard to a select audience, in an old room filled with old books. He spoke with affection of The London Library a jewel in the crown of Literary London. I looked at Tracy, the protege and heard her work and had a sneak preview of the future.