Thursday, December 24, 2015

After a request from the European Parliament to Maria de Peverelli

Dear Maria de Peverelli,

Thank you for contacting me.

I can send you by mail two catalogues of his work.  In it you’ll find some text in Dutch and in English. The catalogue in Blue was made after Tony Passed away on May 10th in 1999. The Exhibition of his paintings at that time was at the occasion of the renovation of the splendid town hall of Hoboken. He pained a scene concerning “The Dog of Flanders” a story by Louise de la Ramée set in Hoboken, a painting he donated to the district of Hoboken.

In making the catalogues I am afraid not all texts were translated into English.

After this exhibition there has been one last exhibition in Lenz Fine Arts Gallery in Antwerp. There are still a lot of paintings in stock at the owner of the gallery. One painting was sold, I seem to remember for 5000 €.

I still maintain the blog Tony Mafia the Painter which you probably know:

The Mohave Museum of History in Kingman, Arizona has two drawings that can be viewed.

In Chloride, Arizona some of the rooms of the Yesterday’s Restaurant have murals by Tony Mafia.

In Spain in a castle (I never knew the people) there is a magnificent Jesus at the cross, with a teakettle as a head.

When in Arizona he would paint many drawings and canvasses with a Native American theme, seen his father was Cherokee. I still have two maps with drawings and beautiful work on my walls at home in Antwerp and in Chloride.

Also I have a storage space for the largest paintings (the size of  “The tearful eye of God” which I cannot all hang)

If you would care to see the work, I would gladly take you to the temperature-controlled storage.

I would also be interested if you could share with me the information you have already found. I have been working on a few drafts for a book about Tony. Yet I am not the one who has to write his biography. I have written articles about his work. If you would care to read those, I’ll look for them and see to it that you get them.

I would not mind donating a second painting to the European Parliament. There has already been an exhibition at the European Parliament, if I remember correctly downstairs in the round space in the Van Maerland building.

Drawings and reproductions of oil paintings have been used on two poetry books “Met Rode Inkt” (2006) and a book about Navajo and Hopi “Wevers tussen twee werelden” 2004.
Also on two CD’s, one by Glenn Yarborough “LIVE at Harrah’s Reno” in 2000 and one by PRIVATE JONES “Pigs and Pyramids” in 2002.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Solidarity with Ashraf Fayad

At two O'clock Sunday the 20th of December in Antwerp, Pen-Flanders together with "Heart over Hard" organized a meeting "Free Ashraf Fayad". Sven chose the location which was highly symbolic, just next to the land where the Saudi family wants to build a new dock. Some people say: great, work and jobs and lots of money they are spending on the building. Others say: Why don't we build it ourselves and not be beholden to them.
When writers organize an action, one can expect creative approach: 14 poets each read part of a poem by Ashraf Fayad: The mustache of Frida Kahlo. Fatena Al-Gorrha and Sven Cooremans worked together and the result was a great translation in Dutch. Sven, by the way was the main organizer of the event. About 75 people participated in the brisk wind. Musicians warmed up the atmosphere on accordion and on sax... Joke Van Leeuwen, president of PEN-Flanders, held a strong speech about freedom of expression. Didi De Paris had send a Rock and Roll text which Sven read and we all repeated with a loud voice. Reading Ashraf poem was very moving. For these words he has been thrown in jail and sentenced to thousand beatings with a stick. Another solemn moment was the telephone call to Ashraf's sister. It is good to feel a world wide solidarity and to be part of it. By the way Ashraf didn't write political poems. Guess what he wrote and is being punished for... love poems. I don't understand that.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Trekkies and the Force

I think it was 1977 when my daughter, her father and myself saw the first Star wars. It was in Leicester square in London. I have at least seen one or two more of the early period. Last night I was invited by the the young folks for The force awakens. Still the struggle between the dark side and the light side is going on. Some of the protagonists have aged and matured, but Han Solo's, the outsider with a gift of talking himself out of all situations, is the ultimate outsider and a fallible hero, yet his Millennium Falcon still in good shape. The dark side and the light, is a never ending sage with John Boyega turning into Finn after having been a storm trooper. I realized during certain heavy bombardment scenes that the first movies came out in more innocent times. Nowadays we see the bombardments and the fighting daily on our newscasts. Some scenes so vivid that one bombardment looked the bombing of Aleppo or Gaza...
So enjoying action was one thing, and being reminded of the sad state of affairs in the world was another. Yet I'll be there for the next installment, the sounds of the light swords, and the music score and the aging characters, as I age just as them and children growing up with all that...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The incident

This just happened in Antwerp, around 9, 30. I had brought my car to the garage to put on the winter tires and do a check up of the car. So I walked back to the first tram stop. It was a tram 6, number 7209 and the conductor was a younger lady. Briefly after I sat down a young man gets on the tram and asks for two 3 € tickets, but he only has a 50 € bill. I couldn't change the bill for him. I hear the lady say: that bill is probably a fake anyway. Did I mention that the young man was well behaved, polite and on his way to his job at the nuclear power plant in Doel, near Antwerp. Oh, I forgot to mention that this nice young man, never was out of line. Although the driver lady thought that a black young man with a 50 € could not be right. To me the whole incident was blatant racism and did disturb me enough to note the number of the tram. Being inclusive seems very hard for some people, sadly I am afraid it is an almost daily occurrence for some. We are all born equal!
I did lodge a complaint to the tram company: file number: 82015038790.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

De Groene Waterman

Dear Friends,
today is the day that Sven Peeters interviews me in "The green Waterman", the nicest bookshop of Antwerp. He will ask questions about my translation of Sherman Alexie's works from his four first books of poetry. Up to now the book has been well received and people who have seen it like it. So After the interview I will tell you how it went. We will start at 4 o'clock.

Poëzie = Woede x Verbeelding
Sherman Alexie

 Now I am off to the preparation of the interview... More tonight!

Sven is a great interviewer and he was truly well prepared. He asked  questions  about the terminology like what is the correct term for 'Indian'? Is an Indian Nation always called a reservation?
Of course it was the poetry who won the people over. Several people bought the book and I  was practicing finding the right words for each inscription for the enthusiastic buyers. I think the bookshop also was happy. A friend 'Kris' came in late, the train had two long stops on the way to Antwerp. The terror threat not quite over, we are at level three in Brussels now. In Antwerp, nothing bad is happening. In order to make more publicity for the book Kris will approach "The Limmerick" in Ghent and then he will be the interviewer. I am a neophyte at this, so I am learning as I go.

In the discussion after the reading some commented that his poetry is very different, sometimes close to prose. So I decided to read them the following poem:

Een Onvolledige Lijst Mensen waarvan ik Wens dat ze Indiaan Waren

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Muhammad Ali
Susan B. Anthony
Jimmy Carter
Patsy Cline
D.B. Cooper
Robert DeNiro
Emily Dickinson
Isadora Duncan
Amelia Earhart
Diane Fossey
Jesus Christ
Robert Johnson
Helen Keller
Billie Jean King
Martin Luther King, Jr.
John Lennon
Maria Magdalena
Pablo Neruda
Flannery O’Connor
Rosa Parks
Wilma Rudolph
William Shakespeare
Bruce Springsteen
Meryl Streep
John Steinbeck
Harriet Tubman
Walt Whitman

And it worked. People were moved by the names, they understood that in the work of a great poet everything can be poetry.

I thank Sherman Alexie for his work, Robert Hershon his publisher for making this publication possible and Leo Peeraer the publisher of poetry in Flanders with the best series of translations.

Sven contacted a friend in the States and was told Sherman Alexie is really big in the States. I hope he will be as well know in Belgium and Holland now.

In gratitude to all,


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Letter from and to Cooper

Dear Annmarie. I've thought of you so much in the days since you left Chloride. Hoping your short stay in NYC was exciting and you were able to have some good visits with old friends. This morning I'm waking up to the news that Brussels is on 'lock-down'? This is all so terrible. I hope you were able to land safely and then get transportation to Antwerp with no problems. I imagine you and Doggy Dog have been exhausted.

I also read your blog and read your words of weariness about Chloride. I understand completely. I feel that way myself this morning. Don't worry. We of course hope to see you next year but no promises by any of us.

I didn't mean this to be so somber. I wanted to write and welcome you home. Tell you how much your visit meant to us and wishing you all the love and joyousness you deserve. For you are indeed one of the 'good people.' One of those whose spirit and sense of outrage at wrong-doing and your energy to try to make this world a better place, never seems to flag.

Lots of love to you. Get in touch when you can. Now, settle in, rest up and give Doggy Dog a big treat! O:-) Coop

Dear Coop. The travel was all right and I did actually get a lift to Maya.
But what is really worse is the militarized language many so called reasonable people are using. I shared on Facebook a letter by David Van Reybrouck, whom I respect, a letter against the warmongering rhetoric of President Hollande of France. Using such language pushes people away, creates distance, mistrust and makes it hard to find cohesion within our society. We need to stay on the path of non-violence, of being there for other people, being helpful. Many will deem me naive, but that is not the fact. I feel, we women and yes also men, can try to find a way to work and think and live together with respect for each other without prejudice or fear. Tolerance is a virtue in a world of many shades and nuances and ways of living a good life. I wonder how long a person can look the other way in the face of racism, homophobia and right-wing politics. The science day (an all day event Maya was involved in) has been canceled because of the lock down of Brussels. Maya and Bram have lost a friend in the Paris attack: a young woman eating out on the fatal night.
Doggy Dog is doing fine. She is already used to the new schedule of her days. What to say more? Take care my friends and be safe.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The end of my stay in Chloride is near

In between  the repairs and the few side trips I made, I felt I just needed to be home. Clean up the place do the repairs needed. Yet one of the buildings is in bad shape... The water heater is broke and the shower is broke. The roof had a leak, the porch was sagging and wobbly. Dan has been working on the porch and that at least seems more stable now. Of course, Chloride and the old gas station is also about memories, of Tony who painted here, of friends who used to come by, about friends I visit. Nadine and John, Cooper and Irene are the people who can lure me back here. The people I care about. Yet in the desert so much is frail: the plants, the weather inclement at times. This time November really cold. And traveling with a small dog has its own challenges. Her weight cannot be more than six kilo the carrier bag included. So I am skimping on her food so that I don't get in trouble with her. New York awaits us. Yet there too finding one's way around in a city one doesn't know. An expensive cab from the airport to the hotel in Brooklyn... after a late arrival. I wonder whether my energy is waning. I do look forward to see my friends: Norris, Carla and Tara. And of course Robert Hershon Sherman Alexie's publisher. So with all the apprehension, there is a lot to look forward to.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Desert Poetry in the Silver Belles Playhouse in Chloride.

Poems - Stories - Music

Although being cold outside, inside with the poets and listeners who came it was cozy. The evening was nice and had e few surprises.  Cooper spoke the welcome words  for the evening and then it was my turn to introduce Karel Sergen, Belgian poet and friend. He read in his own personal way, with big movements when reciting his poem about giants and dwarfs... People looked maybe a bit bewildered when they saw him do this, but when I read the English translation, all was clear. H also read the poem he wrote at my late husbands grave in Dutch followed by my English version of it. There was a whole bunch of poets from Dolan Springs. Jandolin Sparks obviously being the funny, rebellious star she is. I liked what the Dolan Springs poets read: Lynn Rosati, nice and personal, Ian Greenberg,  from whom I would like to hear more too and Sue Bowman.
Lucette read a poem in French about a trusted friend. She translated it into English and made everybody smile when it turned out to be about a dog. Ron Hall who had made sure the microphones worked read a short but poignant poem. Also Robin read a personal poem which meant a lot to her, and thus to us. With Cooper on the flute, I closed  the reading with a short desert poem. Then Debbie on the guitar did a fine job. She has been generous with her time. She sang first "Where have all the flowers gone" and then a  beautiful cowboy ballad. Then it was time for refreshments (warm tea and Coffee, necessary in the winter cold) and coockies by Nadine and Reen...
The after party was at the gas-station with champaign and white wine and some the delicious cookies. I thank Cooper and Irene and Karel for the work they did to make this a beautiful evening.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The wonders of Arizona

After many phone calls trying to set up a meeting with the Hopi Cultural speaker or the tribal chairman, we set off to Hopi, in the hopes of realizing this meeting. in order to talk  about the auctions in France of Hopi religious artifacts. I once attended such an auction to bear witness afterwards to the Hopi.  Anyway, after Kikotsmovi we drove on through Oak Creek canyon to Sedona and then I really got my drivers license driving up to Jerome and then down the mountain to go to Prescot, where the ice cream is still very good, however in way too big scoops. It is a livable town also for Europeans. Bookshops and a town square, nice buildings, a bit of culture. And then the long drive back. Today started with torrential rain, so no painting windows or doors and, Dan called to say that there is snow on the mountains. And indeed, there is a general dusting on the tops and some higher peaks might even show up white when the rain has stopped and the clouds have lifted. I have a small gas stove, so there is some heat in the house. Also this kind of weather is conducive to cooking. it is a reading day, not a go play outside and see the sights day. And that is good too. In Flagstaff there is real heavy snow, the first of the year, upon leaving Flagstaff the San Francisco Peaks where white.

Monday, November 2, 2015

On the road again...

Sometimes beauty just has to be shared with a friend. So we took off with DoggyDog and saw the most spectacular views. The first night was after we had thoroughly visited the south rim of the Grand Canyon. And yes it dutifully impressed my friend. The stupid bad thing is that something is not working with my pictures... Thus you have to imagine the deep canyons for miles and miles, changing color in the changing light. From one spot one can actually see how big the Colorado river is and then imagine the slow work it did since prehistoric times... We slept in Kikotsmovi after a long drive through the darkest night. The bed was excellent and the next morning the blue corn pancakes were just delicious and gave sustenance for quite a long time. From the Hopi we drove to Flagstaff, saw pretty views again: red rock country and we saw snow on the St Francisco Peaks. So I expected it to be cold on the night of Halloween. But first things first: the Starlight Bookshop in Flagstaff is one of my favorite bookshops. And yes, I again a found some great stuff: Jack Karouac with Mexico City Blues with 242 Choruses. I expect to be surprised by rhythms and spontaneous writing. Allen Ginsberg says about the book: a spontaneous bop prosody and original classic literature.
The second book is by Gary Snyder: Mountains and Rivers Without End. That book was actually presented in the Starlight bookshop. The owner seems to know most of the poets and writers personally and I would not be astonished if he were a poet in his own right.
And then there was also In the Palm of Your Hand: The poet's Portable Workshop by Steve Kowit. I am intrigued by it. I could have bought more books but I travel light and there is hardly space in my small carry on suitcase.

And of course we took a bath in the Halloween festivities on the market square... Admired costumes and tried to figure out what Halloween is all about when autumn fades and winter announces itself on the Peaks and the parked cars all frosted over...
Now I am back home, a cozy bed, for DoggyDog and me. And notwithstanding all the unfinished stuff in my old gas station, a really comfortable place for me, if it ever comes all together.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Mohave Desert

I do love the desert. I love the gnarled trees, seemingly dead, but sprouting one green branch. I admire the decay after a cholla cactus just left it's ribs on the desert floor. I see how the washes run after a rainstorm and flooded small creeks or the dip in the road filled with mud and rocks...
And yes a heavy rain can lead to a leak in one's roof and then one needs friends to help with the repairs. Always repairs, most of my time  here is spend on repairs, organizing for it, supervising it.
The gas station itself seems solid, the leak was in the back house, where my guest(s) sleep and have their domain.
The night sky over Chloride with just two street lamps is gorgeous, wonderful, magic filled. Orion shows his every star, the Swan and Cassiopeia  can be seen. It is all clear and bright. One can read by the full moon. The air is crisp at the end of October, will be crisper in November still...

I want to do one more trip by Flagstaf to Hopi... I better make the phone calls to get the appointment with the people I need to see.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Peach Springs - Hualapai

It had been a year or so since I last saw Frank. He has been a friend since a long time and has always been generous with his time. He introduced me to the Hualapai sweat lodge. The first time we were three people plus Frank who sang the sweat lodge songs pouring the water over the hot stones. Of course he sang in Hualapai, thus I didn't understand a word. Yet at the third round I kind of got it what I had to do inside: being open, cleansing my self in all ways, being attentive, quiet, mindful and quietly be part of the ceremony. At this visit Frank junior was there as well, now living with his father and learning the culture, the language and maybe even the songs and herbs and such. It was fun cooking a meal together and to make the salsa sauce from scratch:
Cooking together is fun:
The recipe: Boil 6 to 7 tomatoes. Well it depends also on the amount of salsa you want to make, when the tomatoes are done, throw them in a mixer, add garlic. While the tomatoes are cooking roast the green jalapeño peppers on an open flame. Then add them to the tomatoes and mix again.
Fry the Mission Tortilla's in a greased skilled. Clean the lettuce, heat the brown beans (or alternatively the garbanzo beans) and mash them up when soft.
Put the mashed beans on the fried tortilla, add lettuce and cheddar cheese and the fresh salsa. Enjoy!
Thanks for a wonderful afternoon, Frank and Frank. And I drove off into the sunset in Chloride.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The attack of the flying Cars

My daughter Maya is a long term futures researcher and, since yesterday was the day that Mac Fly would arrive in his future she was interviewed on Canvas, the cultural channel of the Flemish speaking TV. So as a proud mother I give you all who understand Dutch the link to the interview on Canvas: She did great since she did explain about changes in how to interpret the reality around us. She is a realist and stated in answer to a question that world peace would be nice, but that it would already a big feat if we all learn to live together without bashing in  each others head.

Well done. She spoke to message, without superfluous stuff or superficially and she once again made me think about the concepts we hold dear and how the evolve or have to evolve to go on  in a good way for all.

Thank you Maya!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Desert rain and a birthday

For two days we have been gifted with spectacular cloud bursts. Not big drops, not buckets of rain but sheets, the water almost feeling solid. The desert drinks it, forms runs, puddles, mud. of course the water flows to the lowest point, which luckily didn't flood. Otherwise the town could not be accessed anymore except on a dirt road. We are grateful for the rain, as are animals too. And then there was Nadine's birthday, a large group of friends gathered around a table in the Yesterday's ate together, talked, had fun. I had brought a small present which she liked. She must be the most respected and loved woman in town. Nadine is kind, generous, brave, realistic, warm, an excellent baker: if ever you have a chance try her lemon pie.
The main repairs to my place haven been done thanks to Banker Dave or if you want Giant Dave and Dan who has been a friend for years and who knows kind of everything about the civil war. They repaired and saved  the roof of the small bathroom at the back-house and repaired the garage. The tin had flopped over, had come loose in the welcome home storm just a few days after arriving home. Now everything seems to be consolidated and will be standing for an other few years... Or so I hope. The old gas station seems solid and dry. Yet the old pumps are slowly rusting yet still they are photogenic. Sorry my pictures aren't uploading to my computer...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Chloride - Old miners day...

After flying for 19 hours, we finally touched down in Las Vegas. We rented the car and rove off to find my old gas station in Chloride, my home, my refuge, my other place, my other life, the small town away from high culture and endless traffic jams. Doggy Dog seemed to recognize the place and felt right at home. Of course, the place had been gathering dust for about ten month so there was some work to be done, to make the house livable again. And then came the storm: the tin plates from the garage were flapping and making a lot of noise. So I have been looking for someone, to put all the loose stuff back together again... In the hopes that it doesn't fall apart in the next storm. The back house, after two downpours developed two minor leaks, but it is obvious we shouldn't wait till the next heavy rain, which might then complicate matters. Coming back here the first days when a lot of of stuff  must be repaired lends a distopian feeling to the place. But that smooths away after a short while when I look at the gorgeous mountains. Yet I keep worrying about the leaks in the Old Library. But today was not really a workday. On the contrary it was Old Miners Day, with stands and a parade and gunfights at Cyanide Springs. People dress up for these occasions: there are two groups of people doing skids and short exchanges, always with loud bangs from the black powder guns.
The parade itself is fun: Topnotch old cars driving through, horses and goats, old fire trucks, even the democrats were there in this mainly republican town. Yet also the republican ladies know how to bake, so we don't discriminate in buying some sweets at the bake sale. I usually buy Nadine's  work: she is more refined in her backing than some of the other ladies.
Of course on a day like this one meets the whole town, so Lisa who will do my laundry and let me use her vacuum cleaner, Dan, who walks around on such occasion as a civil war survivor in his grey uniform. People traipse through my yard. Some know better than I when something went missing in my absence. This year it was a spoked wheel, rather nifty...
I look at the clouds coming from the north: ranging from white areas to the darkest thunderstorm gray. I can see just one spot of blue sky.
This time not pictures, since I cannot download my pictures on my laptop. Something is wrong somewhere. You'll have to make do without the visual information. I would have loved to show you the beautiful appaloosa  on her first parade. It was a fun day and seeing old friends again is a good thing.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Travels with Doggy Dog

Traveling with a small dog entails quite a lot of things. There are specific times that need to be respected for when vaccinations must be given. There are also things that must be done in the last three days before the trip like filling out the health certificate for the pooch. The weight of Doggy must be right otherwise she cannot be with us in the cabin.
This time a a colleague from PEN-Flanders will be traveling with me. Of course it is always possible that life has some surprises in store. For instance our friend Nigerian poet friend Tade Ipadeola won't be able to come and visit us. Sad, we wanted to discuss his poetry, talk through some of the problems with the translation and also how to proceed after the proofreading we will be doing when at our destination. Of course we also will meet up with friends, make long walks in the desert, look at the murals and petroglyph's beauty and try once again to decipher their meaning. The particular once near the village are Hualapai and some old Hualapai still kind of know how to interpret them. The weather will still be nice, so longer trips are being planned. A lot of Nature and added to the mix also some Culture. I particularly look forward to my friends I have had to miss so long.
All of you: Sunday night late I should be home with my guest. Brace yourself for Monday morning: I need a lot of hugs.
When returning to Europe we'll stop in New York to bring the books "Over the backs of Salmon" in the Dutch translation "Over Ruggen van Zalmen" to Sherman Alexie's publisher and friend Robert Hershon. Exiting times await us.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A double act at De Zwarte Panter: Andree Chédid & Sherman Alexie

Quite a while ago Lucienne Stassaert proposed  to her publisher of over twenty years to bring out two translations on one evening. The publisher Leo Peeraer said yes and thus last night it happened. We decided to introduce each other, no stuffy professors but just two people who like each other and each other's work.
It came to be that I opened the festivities in Adriaan's and Frieda's "The Black Panter" Gallery, home to such events, introducing Lucienne's translation in Dutch: Bestaan is een zegen voor mij: "Existing is a blessing for me" a book by Lebanese author Andrée Chedid. In reading the texts I understood and felt why she  had to translate this specific author. Chedid has a personal spirituality which leads her but which also is not conform with the laws regulating the way of living together in our society. Luxcienne also abhors our amoral society and she has an outspoken humanitarian world view. Both poets always question their thought experiments in life and work. This leads to  changes in the work she does: translating, writing her own poetry, her souvenirs and she does graphic work as well. Luciennes work and Chédid works stem from the same root: a problematic past, being the endless war in Libanon on Chédid's case.

I love lines like:

I don't dare to speak of mankind I know so
little of my self

The poetry in "Bestaan is een zegen voor mij" is not sweet nor easy. Lucienne would never make such a choice. She is more of 'notwithstanding everything we feast and question in uncertainty.

And then Lucienne introduced Sherman Alexies work: "Over the Backs of Salmon". She referred to "The true diary of an halftime Indian" and pointed to the critical aspect of the book and the fact that it was censored in certain states of the USA for being too positive about masturbation...  She commented on his sharp wit and humor and tragicomic situations on the reservation. The publisher Leo Peeraer himself said that at first he didn't know what to do with the book, since Alexie's poetry is full of surprises, poetry and prose at once. Yes, it took a few years before he was won over to publishing the book till suddenly he saw the element of surprise, the greatness and depth of Alexies work.
Yes Poetry is the result of Anger X Imagination
And yes Beauty begins somewhere.

I must admit I was swamped by the people, I signed books, I probably gave some books to the wrong people. What a whirlwind of emotions.

The poems I read in Dutch are:
Last Will and Testament
The Powwow at the End of the World
Things to do (for an Indian) in New York City) : nr. 10

To Robert Hershon, Sherman Alexie's publisher and a great poet in his own right, I would like to say thanks, also to Leo Peeraer THE publisher for great translations and wonderful poetry in Flanders, Belgium.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Academia and fun

On Wednesday the 16th of September a new Knowledge Center for long term Futures was launched. Maya Van Leemput had invited two colleagues from abroad both involved in applied futures research. The name of the project is Open Time. The Open Time team consists of Maya Van Leemput, Chris De Smedt and Annie Verhaeghen. After the presentation we got more than an inkling of what Open Time Futures research can bring to you.

The program was interesting with a warm and to the point welcome by Maya Van Leemput, coordinator of the knowledge center. After that Cornelia Daheim from Duisburg Germany spoke about using creative methods for foresight in practice. There were practical workshops and I must admit I had a lot of fun of role playing and trying to think out of the box, not always simple, since the items of the day, like the many refugees who need a welcome and a place, a legal status and such in foremost on peoples minds. The other workshops were: The thing from the future, a gaming technique to think up possibilities of futures, there was Futures Wheel, an exploratory workshop technique entailing to alway look at the consequences of a change, and what that changes causes 'down the time-line'. There also was a workshop called: The four quadrants scenario, a rather popular method.
Luc De Boever, the departmental director held a warm and funny speech which touched upon the normal layman's questions on how one can do research about what doesn't exist yet. As Maya had already stipulated that there are no future facts. Thus new ways of research have to be thought off and we got a bit of glance of the possibilities. It is great that Applied Futures Research has found a home at the Erasmus Highschool, in Brussels.
It was an enlightening and fun experience with a lot of food for though. Thanks to all who made this possible.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


As part of mopdo2014, that is a mooc course taught by Al Filreis and the talented group of TA's (teachers assistants). So I was offered Bernadette Meyers who had made lists about what to write. I got intrigued what would happen when I would just start writing. This was the result.

Bernadette Meyers experiments

don’t dream
hardly sleep
do eat
       Do you have a recipe for Eiershekken
       Spending too much?
       Wind in November   -  Sun in October
Frost before leaving after mending house
Every day subjects – reading – beauty
        Found art
        Hiraeth: the longing to return to a home that never was
        Travel tomorrow Thuesday arrive on Thursday
        Las Vegas – Antwerp
        do this-do that
        Sunsets every night
Write every day
Make every word 
        Dog days
        Change the course
Write while it happens:
Make every word 
The sun caresses
the tops of the Cerbats
stretching into shadows
in the valleys the light  can’t linger
darkness there
and silence
of the soul
so it is

The appearance of workers in the desert will happen again and coincidences of meetings will occur at random, a possibility. Yes Emily we all live in possibility, should be aware and use it wisely – always to remembering to gather paradise.
But a paradise without a snake, what would have meant that to humanity? The shadows have stopped in the tree covering the air over asphalt –
This happened – just now –
Did it happen as part of a biography...

The words in a poem most difficult
Most important

The unidentified, open, abstract
This and all that remains is now

I walk this path
Coming going
Endless indivisible
Back and forth
Polder and desert


The process
Of then and now
And the road

I eliminated adjectives and I from the text I wrote, thinking again and again of 'This' and 'it'. The I gone, the text became independent, although flowing around the facts of life of the days I did the work and the essay: traveling with a small dog back to Antwerp, Belgium. My head filled with info about coincidences, chance, freedom... This type of thinking through the experiments was very liberating. Getting out of a comfort zone, feeling challenged and remembering all kinds of lines from poems studied... enjoying the task at hand.

Swansong: The presentation in den Hopsack packed to the rafters

Finally the day came of the presentation of Rose Vandewalle's Zwanenzang/Swansong came. The day before, Jean Demey who was going to lay while Viv who read the Dutch text and I would read. Of course I read the English version since it is my translation. The only thing Jean asked was that I read the 33 poems calm and sober, leave five counts between the different poems. So at the evening Jean brought his black and shiny contrabass guitar and installed himself between the two readers a bid behind them. I loved what he did: a bit Ravi Shankar and a lot of Jean, but intimate, withheld, sober as he  had told me to read. Viv is a different person she taught in the Lemmen's Institute speech and diction. She would accentuate certain words, and thus created a different flow. Being on the stage I have no pictures to show... But the audience was quiet, listened and appreciated the introduction of Bert Jans from Dodo Press and the flow of Rose's work in the music and the different ways of reading. A friend, Bart Stouten was so sweet: he explained me why my translations into English are good. He said he felt I questioned the words at a deeper level in both languages and thus would find a better match between them. I must admit I was a bit flattered... The evening was warm and caring and every one had a good time.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Reading in the Rurhort Gallery.

Reading in three languages is quite a challenge when this is in a small gallery with nice people, and when one tries to give them all something to love. The poetry read was personal, yet in such a way that it could be shared, even without the right language. I have read some poetry by Native American authors and poetry I wrote. The musicians jamming behind me supported my reading. The atmosphere was great. The old ladies were kind and seemed to enjoy themselves. The spirit of cooperation was present and the general sphere generous. Here you find the slideshow Fred Schywek made that night. Enjoy. Thanks for the good time! His reading is outstanding!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Constellation of the Lyra

The VII World Festival of Poetry "The emigrated Lyra-2015" is held in Paris, Brussels and Liège. I was invited to read in Liège. Poems in Russian, Oekranian, French, Dutch, English, Portuguese and Arabic. Al the poems of each participant ( we were 20 poets) were translated into French and Russian and published in a book with all the poets in alphabetical order. Of course there is also a real constellation of the Lyra. It can be found  between Hercules and the Swan. So we were all between heaven and earth. People came from far away: from Australia, from the USA... Each read in his/her mother tongue with the projection of the translation in French and Russian on a screen behind the reader. Two friends of mine, members of PEN-Flanders were there. Actually, it was Alhadi who had to flee from Sudan who had proposed me to the organizers and his buddy Kaptue from Cameroon of course was there too. They both are incredible performers. Alhadi reads in long drawn sounds in Arabic,  moving his right arm and hand to stress  the fact that one is reading a story, a poem, and telling it so all can see and hear it. Kaptue reads differently, rawer, he tells the story of what happened in Cameroon and having to flee he reeds as a protest, and seeing the poem one understands his feelings. Fred Schywek took a lot of pictures of the event. Clicking on this link will give you a good idea of the diversity in languages and nationalities. The event brought poets together and any time people are brought together and work together that is a great thing. I want to make a special mention of the interpreter Valéry Dvoinikov for his ease and and pleasant interpretations of the languages needed.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Sahara Testaments/ Sahara Testamenten by Tade Ipadeola: The proofreading

Proofreading the translation of the Sahara Testaments by Tade Ipadeola is as big an adventure as the translation itself. Frank De Vos was the first to make time for me and to date we have gone through the 17 first poems. Four more hours of hard work will be added this afternoon. Frank questions a lot of things in the text: for instance, in the original are quite a lot scientific terms. In English that is no problem because it stems directly from the Latin root. In Dutch one could keep the Latin word, but since the text of Sahara Testaments has a lot of names of city's, rulers, landscape elements which are typical African, and all the terms derived from Latin would make it hard for a dutch lover of poetry to read the text. So I have been checking on the right Dutch scientific terminology for these words. What do I mean? 'Onomastic totems' is a word or word combination most Dutch speaking readers would have to look up and seen the richness of Tade's language, they probably wouldn't bother to go and look it up, so I looked these kinds of words up for them and then it becomes 'naamkundige totems' and within the context it becomes clear that it is the place where all the names have been brought together so they wouldn't get lost...
An other example is 'constellation'. We have 'constellatie' but also a real dutch word 'gesternte' which would sound more familiar and to boot is a beautiful word. Here you see two different handwritings in and around the text... while proofreading.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hanging Loose Press and Robert Hershon.

I got to know of and know Robert Hershon because I had fallen for a poetry book by Sherman Alexie published by Robert Hershon’s Hanging Loose Press and doing what I do I had started translating some of the poems of  ‘First Indian On the Moon’ while in Chloride, Arizona. A coincidence was that I visited two friends living on Staten Island on my way from Chloride, Arizona back to Antwerp Belgium. They gave me a tour of New York. So I had made an appointment to go to Varickstreet, Manhattan to meet with the publisher of the book. I showed up and we went out for a cup of coffee. The conversation flowed easily, I saw a sharp and funny, intelligent and kind man, taking care of Hanging Loose Press, and a great poet in his own right. They published not only now famous poets like Sherman Alexie, Harvey Shapiro, Paul Violi and more… (It is not always easy to follow the contemporary poetry scene from Europe.) Hanging Loose also produced a magazine with the same title. Robert Hershon, doesn’t do this all by himself, originally there were four editors, none taking a salary for their work. I have six issues of the magazine in Europe. The first thing is the visual impact through the care given to the cover, happy, colorful, strikingly beautiful artwork: some names dropping starting with issue 93: George Green, Dick Lourie, Robert Hershon, Hal Sirowitz (former poet laureate of Queens, N.Y.) Marc Staman, Joan Larkin, Stephen Lewandowski, Anne Waldman, Breyten Breytenbach, Sherman Alexie, Donna Brook, Kimiko Hahn and in each issue also a section with ‘writers of high school age’ a really interesting feature encouraging young authors.

Robert Hershon, with 13 poetry books out now, was kind enough to mail me his two latest books of his own:
The German Lunatic (2000) and
Calls from the outside world (2006)

Both books contain wonderful, often funny musings stemming from a wry profoundness. A few e-mails and once in a while a telephone call have let me stay in touch. So I learned from “The German Lunatic” (2000) of his love for baseball, a love shared by Sherman Alexie. Luckily I have two baseball fanatic friends who come and stay the winters in Chloride. Coop and Irene have done their utmost best to initiate into the rules of baseball. I now understand the terminology and begin to appreciate the belly cramps at the ninth inning. I took it upon me to translate this section from ‘The German Lunatic”…

The presentation date for the Sherman Alexie translation “On the Backs of Salmon’ is October 2nd,, , 2015 in the beautiful “Black Panter Gallery”, in Antwerp. This book isn’t the only one being presented: also a translation by Lucienne Stassaert of a book of poetry by Libanese Andrée Chédid. We will introduce each other. No learned professors, just the work we did. Her book is called (in Dutch) Existing is a blessing for me. Of course there will be a party afterwards.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Translation of poetry and of texts from a different culture

Having worked as an interpreter for the European Parliament I have wondered how a Romanian colleague would deal with a Finnish speaker or how a Portuguese interpreter would get the intention of the Hungarian speaker.
It is not about the words flipping them into the target language so that the words would be understandable. Rather in immersing oneself in a language one can grasp the strangeness of the other's circumstances and maybe understand the different cultural contexts, religious concepts and also every thing pertaining to daily and ceremonial life, to the daily hardships and joys. I have translated quite a lot of poetry by Modern Native Americans: Sherman Alexie's translation will be presented October 2nd in Antwerp. Sherman Alexie is Spokane/Coeur D'Alene Indian. His work is modern and deep, funny and ruthlessly honest. He uses irony and old cultural elements. He is a trickster who will confuse you and make you wonder and fill your heart with joy. He writes about pain in his unique way. He is a poet who challenges the translator, using among other techniques Fibonacci series in his rhymes, in another poem he has always the same end rhyme... Impossible in the target language. His world view, his translation of himself in his unique way is quite a gift. I hope the reader will enjoy his work 'On the backs of salmon' the metaphor I use for this translation. I hope you will be deeply touched by Sherman Alixie's poems I have chosen from his four first poetry books, published by Robert Hershon soul and body of Hanging Loose Press. A click on the image will enlarge it, so you can see the beauty of the books.

Sherman Alexie's books in Chronological order:
The Business of Fancydancing, Hanging Loose Press, 1992
First Indian On the Moon, Hanging Loose Press, 1993
The Summer of Black Widows, Hanging Loose Press, 1996
One Stick Song, Hanging Loose Press, 2000

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sounds of Harbor goes German

On August 27 Zwanenzang/Swansong by Rose Vandewalle with my English translation will be presented in  literary Café Den Hopsack. Jean De Mey will take care of the music in his unique and wonderful way.

On August 28 however there will be a poetry event near the Ruhr estuary in Duisburg where Ruhr and Rhine mix their waters. The reading will start at 8 PM in 'ruhr art gallery' on the 'leinpfad'. I love that area with the boats, the wind over the water and the mix of people like one encounters in any harbor town...

A few people will read, organizer Fred Schywek, myself and hopefully also Annie Reniers will be able to make it. She then would read from 'Buitenholten' (Outer cavities) and Fred Schywek would read his excellent translation of this highly philosophical work by Annie. He will perform a critical reading of a poem by Thomas Kling, a young poet who died 10 years ago.

I'll be reading some of my own poems and poetry by Native American authors, for sure there will be read a few poems written by Sherman Alexie. The presentation of the bilingual book 'Over the backs of salmon/ Over ruggen van zalmen' will be on October 2nd,  2015, 8 PM in the Black Panter Gallery in Antwerp, Lucienne Stassaert will introduce the book and I'll comment on her translation from French by Andrée Chedid. So a lot of fun and beauty awaits us all in the next few months.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Weaving between two worlds...

Years ago I was asked about the Navajo Hopi land dispute. Since I had worked years before (I think in 1979) for free in a conference about returning the indigenous lands to the native people, I had very good documentation about several issues. It was a wonderful experience, and I thought it was high time to finally share the English text with you all. A few days ago fine combed the text, hopefully having left no mistakes or extra empty spaces behind.
Today's work was to get bibliography right. I am quite pleased with myself to have finished the job. Rereading  the long list with wonderful books a joy by itself. 

By the way I added a short list of some of my favorite Native American authors....

Alexie, Sherman, all his novels and poetry (He won the PEN-Faulkner award)
Bird, Gloria, prose and poetry
Boyne, Grace, poetry
Erdrich, Louise, her novels
Harjo, Joy her poetry and other work
Kingsolver, Barbara, her novels and High Tide in Tucson
Least Heat-Moon: Blue Highways and Prairy Erth
Marmon Silko, Leslie, Ceremony, her novels and poetry
Maurice, Kenny, his poetry
Momaday, Scott, everything
Moore, MariJo, her poetry
Rose, Wendy, her poetry: Lost Copper, Academic Squaw, Bone dance
Simon, J. Ortiz his poetry
Tapahonso, Lucy, her poetry
Tohe, Laura her poetry (No Parole today)
Welch, James, his novels
Of course my thoughts go out to Leonard Peltier, poet and political prisoner

Monday, June 15, 2015

David Foster Wallace

He died, no he committed suicide when he was 46. I am now 68 and stumbled upon his writing. I am an avid reader, read all kinds of things and thinner books usually find a place in my purse to read in any forlorn moment. Now I just bough two of his books (the bookshop in Antwerp only had two of his books) on offer and I went home with Infinite Jest, 1000 pages plus and 93 pages of annotations and the Pale King. No way to carry the book in a regular purse. When I started I was wondering about whether I could read it all without getting bored, uninterested or disgruntled... I soon discovered that this was writing like I had never read:rich, long winded, interesting all about the young peoples at a sports college. The language sings, the fumes of pot almost waft off  the page. The words will run away from you, will crowd you, will make you smile... Of course this is a book to be read as a young adult struggling with all that goes on in life. Yet the beauty will floor you at times:

That cockroaches can, up to a certain point, be lived with.
That "acceptance" is usually more a matter of fatigue than anything else.
That different people have radically different ideas of basic personal hygiene.
That it is permissible to want. That everybody is identical in their
secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else. That this isn't necessary perverse.
That there might not, but there are people who might as well be angels.

David Foster Wallace grew up in Illinois. He studied at Amherst, he suffered severe depressions. He wrote a short story about the 1983 episode. The Planet Trillaphon as It Stands in Relation to the Bad Thing." which was published in the Amherst review. Trillaphon is an anti-pychotic medication...

If it looks difficult, think of the education you'll get reading his work: the taste  and smell of a time of growing up as Generation X in the USA.

Monday, June 1, 2015

PEN-International's congres in Amsterdam.

Openingsspeech Job Degenaar WiPC/ICORN-conferentie, De Duif, Amsterdam, 25.05.2015

 In a rich and democratic country as The Netherlands there is still freedom of speech and expression. There are no writers in prison. As a writer at the sunny side of the world you can do two things. Enjoy your luxury free life and write as a free human being about your free life.
Or enjoy this luxury and write, but also try to support your colleagues at the shade side of the world that can't defend themselves: the path less traveled by, as Robert Frost should say.

 Many of you, here gathered, do the same. You try to do something for writers who are in big trouble, writers, not criminals, who are in prison, or under threat, or who have killed with impunity, writers who are unable to help themselves: you can't open a prisoner's door from inside. Most of them live in countries with dictatorial governments as China and Vietnam or with powerless governments, like Mexico and Honduras:

There is no distance between writers, only between the circumstances writers have to live.

In my capacity of the national WiPC Chair, for nearly 10 years now, I became a member of the international PEN-community – and I'm proud to be so. Most of our work is in silence, in the lee, because of diplomatic reasons. It needs carefulness and hidden actions, which is not the same as chicken-heart: when lights are spotted on a writer who is in danger, he could become in more danger. You always have to keep in mind what you want to reach: not your so called bravery, but the life of a colleague who is unable to fight for himself. The Dutch WiPC is at this moment especially focused on actions for East-Asiatic countries where most of the writers in the world are imprisoned.

What we do, is seeking contact with governments and diplomats, and of course with other PEN-centres for consultation about the way how to take action, supporting imprisoned writers by sending cards to them, telling their stories in our own country, translate their work and give them a name and a face. The basic principle for our work is the dialogue, not the confrontation. You can't win anything by offending regimes if  you want to change their minds.

To mention three small, recent successes from our centre: we received from the Vietnamese Nguyn Hũu Caũ, who was freed after 40 years imprisonment, and his family, personal thanks for the work we have done. And together with a French sinologist we nominated two years ago the Chinese Li Bifeng for the American Hellman-Hammett Grant and we translated some texts of him into Dutch. He received the award. Unfortunately he is still in jail. Our work continues.

We also supported the foundation of the North Korean Writers in Exile Centre and the South-Korean president Lee Gil-won did a lot for them. And now some work of them also has been published in important Dutch papers and in a literary magazine.

David van Reybrouck, from PEN Flanders, once said: 'WiPC is the core business of PEN' and Larry Siems, from PEN America, summarized in Kyrgyzstan what should be the main subject in conferences like these: 'The key core issue is dynamic engagement on every case'.

Well, let's be engaged. I wish you a very pleasant and inspiring time here in Amsterdam.