Monday, February 27, 2012

a yawn on stone

 A yawn on stone is a project fFank De Vos has initiated. Faded publicity is photographed and a poet is asked to write something inspired by the picture. Some of the poets who participated in he project: From left to right: Luciene Stassaert, Hilde Van Cauteren, Peter Holvoet-Hanssen, Annmarie Sauer (half), Ann Van Dessel, Rose Vandewalle (half), Yerna Van den Driessche, Frank De Vos en Pierre Magis. Vooraan van links naar rechts Albert Hagenaars, Bert Bevers, Marleen De Crée, Hans Mellendijk en Richard Foqué.
 The district of Hoboken had together with Frank com up with an interesting formula. The event started with a light breakfast for poets and audience alike.

Then baroque music opened the readings.  Two poets enjoying the moment.

Rose on her eserved seat an Lucienne chilling out before reading.

I had often wondered  why this instrument was called viola da gamba. Well now I saw it: The instrument doesn't rest on the floor like a cello. It is clenched between the legs and kind of rests on the lower leg. I love the sound of this instrument.

Yet I love the sound of a human voice even better, I like to listen to poets reading: excellently like Lucienne or Peter. Yet even poets reading badly tell me some thing extra about their texts. But of our bunch all who read did well.
Of course poets are part of our troubled society: thus we had the empty chair for Lui Xiaobo, being a prisoner of conscience. And I, i once again could help mysel and uttered as my final words: and more over i m of the opinion that Nato should be abolished. The audience was silent, then laughed and applauded. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Superintendent of Big upper Branch of Massey indited

 In June last year while in Beckley, West Viginia, I met Delbert, one of the people from the shift of which 29 miners died on April 5th, 2010.
He was kind enough to take the time to show the memorials and talk about the substandard safety and working conditions ( at least in European eyes). On his helmet the record longwall 100 feet retreat in 24 hours... Without roof support, without trade unions. Now one Gary May has been indited for falsifying safety records and for sing code words tiping of the miners underground  if a surprise inspection came.. It is obvious that the way the mine worked was to get as much coal out as possible and not cutting only coal but also cutting corners  and having to work in unsafe circumstances. Maybe this brings closure for the families, maybe safety in all mines will be improved because of this gruesome disaster.
Thank you again Delbert for sharing your story.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

There must be something wrong...

There must be something wrong, boys! ( and girls, of course!)
 Translation of an Appeal for a more democratic  and creative Antwerp...
Venting your opinion in a public space in the city of Antwerp becomes a difficult exercise. Occupy participants get ‘Administrative Communal Fines’ (GAS-fines) because they use city squares for their gatherings. Women who called out loud ‘shame’ twice because the old Linden trees were chopped off on the de Keizerlei are immediately arrested. The doctors from ‘Health for the People’ (Geneeskunde voor het Volk) are presented with a GAS-fine because of an action about the flu vaccine. Critical Mass on their cycle tours get super controls and are handed super fines by the police. And then we don’t even mention 2060 around De Coninck square, about what happens there when you loiter a bit long or if you, what a shame, drink a beer in public.

Is this the city of free speech? Is this the city where public space can be used to proclaim one’s opinion and what has happened to free movement? Is this the city were citizens may be critical in their remarks? What is the intention?

Were are artists and thus very sensitive if critical thought is shackled, if free thought is threatened. Out of freedom come our artistic possibilities. When citizens are silenced, then space is taken away from the artist to think and to act. These things go hand in hand. Repressive governance endangers every creative soul and undermines democracy.

This concern leads to our urgent request to the city council and administration to change its policy and to give back the public space to thinking and creative inhabitants. Antwerp, with the harbor as a gate to the world, cannot afford to have a narrow-minded attitude towards the ‘other voice’. This gate has to remain open, thoughts must be able to confront and encounter one another. Let the squares and streets of this city remain a meeting place for variation in thinking, which is the basis of each healthy democracy. We should not be worried and fear that the city government will take away our democratic rights, do we?
The GAS-fines? Make them disappear in the shredder.
Critical Mass. Let them cycle.
Occupy people? Grant them free speech.
Healing doctors? Let them give free vaccinations.
Ladies and Gentlemen? Let them shout.
Visitors of squares? Let them go about their business and meet each other.
Artists? Let them dream.
This city should not suffocate in a long AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Carneval and Ezra Pound's Come My Cantilations

 It is once again the Carneval season which is upon us: good times, political satire, using up in reckless abundance what the winter has left and then fasting, to renew for the next warmer seasons. It is a mentality of joy and excess and to some a season of melancholy to be chased. 

Come My Cantilations
by Ezra Pound

Come my cantilations,
Let us dump our hatreds into one bunch and be done with them,
Hot sun, clear water, fresh wind,
Let me be free of pavements,
Let me be free of the printers.
Let come beautiful people
Wearing raw silk of good colour,
Let come the graceful speakers,
Let come the ready of wit,
Let come the gay of manner, the insolent and the exulting.
We speak of burnished lakes,
And of dry air, as clear as metal.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Friendship from eleven to now

This lady, I have know since she was eleven and I twelve. I guess her parents thought she was clever and let her have an early start going to school. And yes she is smart. We hadn't seen each other for a while, so she had been disappointed in my constancy. She spoke her mind and I know I didn't fulfill her expectancy of me.

Yet in the cute place she had chosen we talked. We were very serious and laughed and found, I think, our way back to each other. She isn't too fond of changes when things are good and I am a restless soul, a drifter. In Dutch (I read the word  in a poem by Herman Gorter) there is this word zwerversrecht, the right of a drifter to expect s/he will still be loved, appreciated, accepted when s/he shows up.
And with some people it works; the conversation after years might be like I was saying the other day.... knowing, feeling, where the other is at. It could be construed as a selfish way of living, but the other person can also expect to be welcomed, loved and appreciated after years of not seeing or speaking to each other. This lady is part of my life, remembers things and stuff I have forgotten or erased. What I should remember is the sign over the door saying 'Nothing is really difficult' not even in her words 'incompatible friends'.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

V.R.'s 65 bash

 Veerle is a great graphic artist and wonderful enabler of projects involving word and image. For her 65th birthday she invited friends, family, people she had worked with. The afternoon started with Patricia Beyssens, great attitude and voice, wonderful choice of songs.
 Tony had organized a program in which different artists or authors would speak about the different projects. He was a smooth operator introducing the people he knows well.
 Philosopher Frans Boenders entertained us with his take on South Africa ( one the projects), although basically traveling more to the orient. He finished with four quatrains, funny and telling.
 City Peter, the just released city poet Laureate of Antwerp gave a fine performance, warm and with even a song on a melodica. He spoke about the working together with Veerle for the cover of one of his book. Down on the right a picture of the wonderful place Zaal 7, pure art nouveau and holding about 150 pople that day.
 The left guy Jack van Peer is the president of the Foundation which wants to work to preserve and support contemporary graphics.
On the right is Jan Dockx President of the Circle of Friends which will be treated to museum visits and learning about contemporary graphic art.

 Tony in a pensive, quiet moment before the
second set of German Lieder  from about the 1920/1930's... Click on the picture and admire the shoes.
The picture below shows Johan van Cauwenbergen in a rousing speech.
 Veerle's partner Willem Persoon spoke about the 10 years the have been together: the busy, rich fulfilled life  with Veerle.
I which both of them many more years, many projects and good times.

Marleen de Crée also spoke about the first project in the Masereel Fonds in Kasterlee and the often mentioned trip to South Africa. The microphone kept hiding her face so the picture didn't work. Ivo Va, Damme, who takes the pictures at these events is the man on the left.
 And the birthday girl is seen here unwrapping  the gift of all the artists: a piece of original graphic work plus a poem by every poet. Happy Birthday Veerle8

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The gathering for Leonard Peltier

 It was one of those miserably cold days when five layers of clothes can't  keep you warm. It was a winter day like I imagine winters to be in South Dakota. Yet a motley crew of supporters toughed it out for three hours, thinking about Leonard Peltier, talking, drumming, playing the flute, handing out information, sharing hot chocolate with nearby beggars.
Hakata and Uncyia organized this vigil and demonstration across from the US Embassy. In front of the embassy is impossible since that is American territory. I was impressed by the courteous and discrete manner of the Brussels police.

 There were banners and flags, tracks were handed out to shoppers in the center of Brussels and with some we had lengthy conversations. A tip for the Ambassador: so one knows what people really think. The sympathy clearly was for the liberation of Leonard Peltier. 36 years of imprisonment is deemed illegal in Belgium, said one of the people we talked to.
 Rousing speaches were delivered by Uncyia and poetry was read from Leonard Peltier, Denis Banks, John Trudell, Sherman Alexie, Marijo Moore, a Lakota elder

The last ones standing, quietly after everything was cleaned up and the the last drummer was tucking away his drums.

Yes 36 years since his arrest, followed by a trial with dubious practices, considered by many a miscarriage of justice.
So enough is enough: Free Leonard Peltier.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

International Leonard Peltier day

Leonard Peltier wrote for this occasion:

Greetings to my relations, my friends, and to my many supporters the world over.

It is that time again. Another year has passed, and on February 6th I will be marking 36 years since my arrest. During all this time, my family and allies have discovered just how far the government will go to wrongfully convict and imprison someone they know is innocent. They do this as a message— first to Indians, and further to anyone who might stand up to injustice—as if to say, “We will do as we please”.

From the day of my arrest until now, through you my supporters, I have been honored with many activist and humanitarian awards. I thank you for keeping awareness of me and my case alive. Your commitment has really been a special experience for me.

In addition many celebrities, political figures, and organizations have called for my release, including 55 members of Congress. This last November, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) passed a permanent resolution calling for my release. Well let’s hope its not that permanent. The NCAI has committed to being directly involved with my case so that the message from Washington to Indian people does not remain, “We will do as we please”.

Still, despite all this attention and with all the leaders and people of conscience calling for my release, I have been kept in this iron cage. They have even kept me longer than their own laws say they can. With evidence corroborating that I did not receive a fair trial, with proof of government misconduct, with admissions by government officials that they do not know who killed those two agents that day at the Jumping Bull property, here I sit. “We will do as we please.”

Recently, as many of you know, an act was passed and signed into law that allows for indefinite detention of American citizens without charge or trial. This is perhaps the final straw, the final nail in the coffin of American freedom, the end of habeas corpus and due process. “We will do as we please.”

We Indians said it for generations: If they can kill us indiscriminately, they will do it to anyone. If they can take our land, they will do it to anyone. If they can kidnap our children and take them to prison schools, they will do it to anyone. If they can starve us and lie to us, they will do it to anyone. If they can wrongfully imprison us, they will do it to anyone. Now, sadly, this is another Indian prophecy fulfilled. “We will do as we please.”

Our ancestors and tribal people all over the world prophesized a time of upheaval and great change. I believe that time is fast approaching. I believe a part of this is the government’s ongoing overreach of its authority—until the people rise up and tell Washington, “You will NOT do as you please! We are NOT your slaves! We will NOT be subjugated! We will NOT be ruled by an iron fist! We will NOT allow you to steal our liberty or our justice!"

My friends, my relatives, my supporters—Be a part of this latest, perhaps the last "Indian uprising". Make your voice heard! Be a part of the brave Movement to come, the Movement that will change the course of human history. Make change and hope and peace and justice a part of your personal legacy. Be the change that you envision and know in your heart must take place.

Do this, and on the day you take your last breath and prepare to meet Creator, you will know your life on this Earth was well spent. Close your eyes knowing you used your breath and energy to Creator’s good purpose. Smile as you cross over knowing you changed the world so that the next seven generations can know a good life. Do these things and know that I am with you.  I will embrace you as my relations—in this life or the next.

Mitakuye Oyasin.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier

Friday, February 3, 2012

Job Degenaar II - Ich bin- I am

Ich bin is the poem that gave the title to the Job's new book in Dutch, German and English. Job is the president of the Dutch writers in prison committee of PEN-The Netherlands. Just as is the case for PEN-Flanders, there is often cooperation with Amnesty.

Ich bin

Zwaar van bloesem buigt vanavond

de oude appelboom


en zij daar, satijnen engel

althans vanuit m'n auto


detonerend in de leegte

haalt haar wasgoed van de lijn


Ook op de radio komt ze door

'von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt'


Even scheurt de grond -

Berlin dreißiger Jahre


und überall

Wege zum Gluck -


Het huis herzien, de boom geveld

de polder bijna ingevuld


de weg is recht, m'n leven krom

ik kijk nog altijd even om



Ich bin


Blossom heavy bows tonight
the old apple tree
and she there, satin angel
at least from my car
incongruent in the emptiness
takes the laundry off the line
Also on the radio she comes through
von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt, from head to toe attuned to love
Briefly earth tears –
Berlin Dreißiger Jahre, Berlin in the thirties    
und überall, and everywhere
Wege zum Glück - roads to happiness
Revisited the house, the tree felled
the polder almost filled
the road is straight, my life off track
so far, I still glance back






Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bookpresentations I

During the week around Unesco's World Poetry Day, March 21 world internet books will be presenting several books and turn a day into more than a week. The first author to be presented is Job Degenaar, Dutch poet with a trilingual book Ich bin-I am on March 17, at salon12b. Producer of the book is Fred Schywek, also responsible or the German translation and Annmarie Sauer translated the Dutch original in English and kept Translation notes by Ich bin - I am

The first Korrekturlesen/proofreading  of some poems by Job Degenaar in their German version and some in English was on February 25, 2011. The concept was to publish a trilingual book by Job Degenaar: Ich bin. It is interesting to reflect upon the different 'poetry cultures' in the three language areas involved. The reading of the Dutch poetry is usually sober, straightforward- unless the poet considers himself a performance artist. In that case all is possible. In Germany, a poetry lover expects to understand what is read. Readers and listeners differentiate between silent (stille Gedichte) and loud poetry, (laute Gedichte). The silent poetry gains by being read, the loud poetry by being heard. This is an element to consider in the translation of poetry into German. A repetition, an extra word might be needed to turn the translation into a good poem in the target language. In my feeling about the English version, it might be actually the other way around. The English translation might well be a touch shorter, compacter... I enjoyed this first tri-lingual reading. 
Achtung Hochspannung is the title of a poem in Dutch with German quotes in the text. This constitutes no problem in Dutch since both languages are rather close relatives. Translating such a poem into English is however not as straightforward as it may seem. American and British readers would probably not understand the German quote Abfall ist unser Fall or even the title of the poem. The Dutch poet however choose to introduce this foreign element in his poetry, albeit in a gentle way. In English I would not want to loose the exotic element, yet it would be far harsher if I just kept the German without mediating this for the reader. In  another poem Ich bin I have opted to place the English translation as kind of an echo of the German quotes, just next to each other. This kind of option disturbs slightly the visual of a poem when printed side by side and the choice to try to be loyalty to the verse. I am looking for an interesting, playful ways in problem solving, ways readers can enjoy. 

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