Monday, December 13, 2010

Double rainbow

Yesterday this what what I saw from the window early in the morning. Two rainbows, well that is a sign of luck in my book...

I wish all of you good luck.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Colmar and Christmas atmosphere

 Colmar in Weinachtsmarkt festive mood and unseasonably cold. The pretty and quiet town sports the typical Alsatian Fachwerk Houses and with the Christmas lights on in town it is quaint and sweet.  Good food and even a bookfair.
The first snow prettified  and made it all look even more romantic.
The book fair showed useless mechanical objects. Quiet pretty. A whole section was dedicated to children, where they could actually do something. And at some stands the authors sat next to one another waiting for recognition.

A lot of cook books and the chefs were there all dressed up...
France will be France.

And yes, we had  e few nice meals with the local fare.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Albert was a friend. He taught me to look at things and see, analyze and then feel it it too. My daughter said: 'Thank you for choosing your friends well. It gave me a happy childhood also because of them.' Here you see one of his paintings... Always fascinating. An other friend and gentle soul gone, too soon. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Friends and family and those who are for freedom of expression.

Some friends and family try to keep 'posted' on my whereabouts and what I am up to. For the time being I am in the low countries where it has been raining old wives, cats and dogs and all the other expressions you can come up with. Parts of Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany are flooded. Meadows, forests,gardens are waterlogged. Saturated. Canals and streams overflow or break dams. And still at least one more day of rain has been predicted for Western Europe.
For the rest I have been following my passion:poetry and the translation thereof. Being a member of PEN's Writers in Prison committee,  we keep an empty chair for the colleagues who are in jail at all activities we organize. I must say that we live in interesting times. A writer we have defended Chinese Liu Xiaobo has received the Nobel prize for peace. The other great news is that Aung San Suu Kyi from Myanmar after 15 years of house arrest and imprisonment has been freed. Her first speech dealt with the most important right a person has and which according to her is Freedom of Speech. Both facts are good news, now another writer in prison should be freed. Monday evening from 7 to 8 PM, November 15, Bart Stouten will - on the classical radio Klara in Belgium - also deal with the subject of freedom of expression and speak about an story written by Uighur author Nurmuhemmet Yasin, Wild Pigeon. This short story was published in a literary magazine and let to the imprisonment of the author in 2004. May he and others opposing dictatorial regimes be free at last.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Saint Martin in Orsoy: Rabimmel rabammel rabumbumbum

When dark and stormy November shows the darkness of the days to come what better to do than have a parade with children carrying lighted lampoons and lanterns. Happy music and Saint Marin(a) in red coat on a horse will give you happy feelings even in pouring rain and a cold dark evening along the Rhine in Orsoy.  Of course you will be held warm also by a nice grog or Glühwein spiced up with some Cointreau. After the parade sweets are passed out to the local children or those young at heart. The Weckmann is it, some fruit and a selection of sweets and chocolate. Of Course kids make their own lanterns and the town is decorated. It is all about being together and sharing. A nice feeling.

At the end there is a fire to warm all the marchers and onlookers up and of course it is professionally doused by the local fire brigade.
So we warmed our hands and heart at the fire, thought about the good days children can still experience, we all smile notwithstanding rain and wind.

Tradition can be stifling but in this case tradition makes sense, brings joy and brings a community and families together.  And the next 11.11 at 11 minutes past 11 The fifth season begins.

All pictures by:
© sms:foto duisburg/rhein 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010


Yesterday the team of 'De Ambassadeurs', (The Ambassadors), program on the classical Flemish radio station, had invited me for a conversation and classical music. This was a special kind of feedback that was a fallout of the three day Small Festival of European Art of Poetry in Antwerp September 16-18. You can read more about is here.

The team goes out of its way to make the guest feel comfortable. their goal is to make an interesting program with lots of good music which has been chosen to please the guest. The atmosphere is intimate, kind and professional. One of the questions was you seem to write seldom about music. Well once in a while I do.

Alle solisten heten Kim

(Tsjaikovsky Pianoconcerto 1- zesde laureaat Koningin Elizabeth wedstrijd 2010)

He taaie trekken
van slepende strijkers
en kaarsrechte
kracht voor 't klavier
de blik op oneindig
te vroeg gedaan
en dan de razernij
getemperd geoefend
en dan de stilte
als het haar neerkomt
na de donderdag

horen de vingers op de toetsen
de blazers & bazuinen
de pauken & geroffel
en de slag

This as a thank you.

Friends who who missed the program can listen at the De Ambassadeurs

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Liu Xiaobo - WIPC - Flanders

 Liu Xiaobo Chinese defender of human rights, condemned to 11 years of imprisonment for exercising his right to free speech has received the Peace Nobel Prize. Here a picture of one of last years actions in support of imprisoned writers. See the empty chair of Liu Xiaobo and then Pen Flanders President Geert Van Istendaal.
sms:foto duisburg/rhein 2009

In The Small Festival of European Art of Poetry five members of a Writers in Prison Committee were involved (16-18 of September in Antwerp). There was an empty chair on stage for Chinese author Zheng Yichun and all writers in prison because of writing what they felt they must. Link to Pen.
Here you see Job Degenaar President if WIPC Netherlands preparing for the finale of the Festival with the chair and poster in the backgroud.

©: Bram Goots

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nuclear energy, no thanks

In several countries in Europe, among others Germany and Belgium they are breaking the promise that nuclear plants would be closed. In Germany 'Bibis' 30 years old and the oldest plant in the country will be open for another 8 years. A new report surfaced that there are 80 issues with the plant and About them about seventy are security issues. The protest in Germany is strong. The current government is a right wing disrespecting the poor in their own country and uncaring towards their young citizens. This nuclear plant and its fumes I can see from my apartment.
My contribution is a poem:
The long now

the long now
10.000 years
who can then
read this
the symbol

who knows then
for the cause
of double timing halftime
short selling
of what how log
then still
has to come
years from now
the late burden
of moot mushrooms
and fantasies of fission

we all live
in the halftime
of the long
now -

Nuclear energy no thanks

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book burning and censorship

Appalled at what is happening in my country, I want to reiterate that freedom of expression is absolute especially when we don't agree with what is being said

Here follows the letter of PEN President John Ralston Saul:
In response to the threatened burning of copies of the Koran in the United States on September 11, 2010, the president of International PEN, John Ralston Saul, has issued the following statement:

There is only one religion of book burning. Whatever the book—a text from any religion, a novel, a philosophical treatise, a poem—those who cast it into the flames stand arm-in-arm with Goebbels on a square in Berlin worshipping at the altar of hatred. Such hatred can always invoke as justification some earlier offence, real or imagined. The specific acts of individuals are then distended into a revengeful condemnation of whole cultures or religions or peoples.

PEN stands for unlimited freedom of expression. But we also believe in restraint, not as self-censorship but as the expression of that true complexity of human relationships which great literature invokes. We pledge to do our utmost to "dispel race, class and national hatreds." And the burning of books is a profoundly contemptuous display of hatred.

We believe that the destiny of literature is to bring people together. The broad condemnation by Americans and people around the world of the threat to burn religious books is a reminder that the role of freedom of expression is not to divide, but to unite people.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

November 20 - Women against Nato

> Dear friends,
You know that Muddy roads cares about peace and non violence. hence this message from the Women in Black, Women against Nato and writers for peace:
> We would like to tell you about a women's anti-NATO action some of us
> are planning in Central London on November 20, to mark the NATO
> Summit which takes place in Lisbon that weekend.
> Four of our women's networks are involved - Women in Black, Women's
> International League for Peace and Freedom, Aldermaston Women's Peace
> Camp and women of Trident Ploughshares.
> We are gathering an affinity group of 25 women for this activity.
> We shall be wearing specially prepared T-shirts. Eleven women, each
> with a large letter stencilled on the fabric, will, side by side,
> together display the message SAY NO TO NATO. Women in plain T-shirts
> will fill the space between the three words. Thus, fourteen women in
> total will constitute this 'living message'.
> The T-shirts will be pale mauve (traditional women's colour) and the
> letters stencilled very boldly in black. Letters will also be printed
> on the reverse, but different ones, so that, whether seen from front
> or back, the message will read from left to right. The 'O' in NO will
> be a women's sign.
> We shall progress around London from site to site, stripping off our
> overcoats here and there, linking arms and displaying our message for
> some minutes, wherever we can achieve the most dramatic visual
> effect...on steps, on bridges, across roads on pedestrian crossings,
> lying on the ground etc. etc.
> Some women of the affinity group will distribute to the public
> informative leaflets about NATO developments and the feminist case
> against NATO. The leaflet will carry the names of our four
> organizations, and will make demands on the British government.
> Other women of the group will look after coats and bags. We shall
> have a steward, and a legal observer, and women concerned with
> photography, video and media contacts.
> These supporting women will wear T-shirts in the same colour, but
> stencilled with a women's anti-NATO logo. (I can send this when it
> is designed, if you are interested.)
> We would very much like to know whether you are planning women's
> actions in your cities and localities to mark the NATO summit - and
> if so, what you plan to do.
> If any of you would think of doing a similar T-Shirt Action, it would
> be a great joy to us to know we are joined with you in a simultaneous
> and co-ordinated event!
> We have prepared a 'Background Note' about developments in NATO and
> women's case against it, as a resource in planning our Nov 20 action.
> It can be seen on the website of Women and Life on Earth. You will
> find a link on the home page at . The paper is titled
> "Making NATO visible to women; making women's opposition visible to NATO".
> Let's share ideas!
> Best wishes, Cynthia
> Women in Black London.
> _____________________________________

Friday, August 20, 2010

Creativity and politics

The Minneapolis-based retailer Target just gave over $150,000 to buy ads supporting state Rep. Tom Emmer, a far-right and anti gay Republican candidate for governor. This makes Target one of the very first companies to take advantage of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision allowing unlimited corporate cash in elections.

Target must think customers won't care. They're wrong: We do care, and we need to let them know that we want Target -- and all corporations -- out of our elections. Can you join me in sending a message to Target's CEO at the link below?

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Today in the Ruhr-area Cultural Capital of Europe 2010 there is a gigantic sing along in the Stadium of Schalke. This poem can be read with comments about the event. It was an uplifting,fee good evening.

Die Seele geht
der Leib der bleibt
Entrückung kommt
sing sing, du King
von Blut von
äth’risch’ Glut
du King du sing
der Wind der weht
der Schnee der geht
du sing du King
auf Horizonten
mit neuem Winter
Mantel bau dein
Schiff die Jungs
vom Leib der bleibt
die Seele baut
ein Schiff für
dich und deine Frau
und dein Fahr Rad
frag mal die Jungs
ob du den Sattel
brauchst zum tauchen
gerade jetzt wo
die Post Karte
singt du King
Fred Schywek


The soul goes
the body that stays
detachment comes
sing sing, you King
of blood of
ethereal glow
you King you sing
the wind blows
away the snows
you sing you King
on horizons
with new winter
coat build your
boat the guys
of the body that stays
the soul builds
a boat for
you and your wife
and your bicycle
do ask the boys
whether you need the
saddle to dive
just now when
the post card
sings you King

translated into English for the pleasure of your eyes.

Farewel party

To do things right I need a ritual. So the friendship among colleagues had to celebrated now that I stopped working. There were the sweet and personal words by the chef, and my reply. My friends liked it, yet I can't remember what I said. People laughed, talked, had a good time, with none of the awkwardness of official do's.
I always considered myself an outsider, or at least looking in from the sideline, yet that evening I was carried by the warmth of those I shared my work life with and travels in the service of making communication easier. These friends shared some of my life-load. I now shared some of my joys with them. The house is full of flowers, books sought out after careful consideration, things they wanted me to know, thought I might like. Pleasant silly surprises and empty books to write in. I may have been looking in, but I was watched by those I worked with and they got my number. I was touched be the sincerity of their warmth.
By the way, someone counted: 17 languages were present, several of them spoken: German, English, French, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Russian, Finnish, Polish, Turkish, Estonian, Hungarian, Maltese and Scottish.
Thank you all for closure and the good start into other realms into which I might just lure you to follow...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Corporate identity

I was asked to document my last two weeks in which I still have a corporate identity. Well, they started out under unblemished skys and total disaster on the road to the temporary capital of Europe. Late arrivals, no arrivals, changing work scedules and for most, and early departure for some was the flavor of the week. Already last month, I had taken leave of most features along the road. I consciously had done all the usual things more mindful, as a goodbye. This week however turned hectic and that was just fine since because of this, it turned out to feel like just any other week. It was good to do the normal work and to end in beauty with a high-powered meeting. Yet there was melancholy. The changes, knowing that in a weeks time, the corporate identity will have been stripped off, the strange irregular structure of life will fade away and absences from home will become presences which may weigh on those used to have me out of their hair. New life plans will develop in living them day by day. The skies are streaked again. Normalty of meetings, packing unpacking still lingers. I wonder will there be cabin fever, or will literary activities take hold more firmly and fully. Will I be less hasty? Learn not to interrupt people, will I... Will we... Questions and doubts, how to work out the balance of distance and nearness. Had I been able to write every day, I might have commented on the joy of doing a good job till the last day, knowing one stops working when still going strong. I might have written on being critical and working hard at not becoming cynical in working in a highly political environment. I feel vulnerable and glad, even liberated for a few moments. Skipper ahoy, in a week I am sailing out with red tears and new fire... for shared futures and shared shores.