Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Aging and it's consequences

Some days my body or mind aren't really in top shape. Medical visits to stay as fit as possible, long walks with DoggyDog is part of what I do for staying active physically and mentally. I still translate and write and read. And also I have a strong opinion of the President. I did not vote for him! And I don't really get why other people did. Maybe they think that in voting for him his wealth will trickle down to them. But I wouldn't expect that kind of generosity. I am however blessed with a great, very smart daughter. She also seems to have quite a dose of energy. She recently organised a three day conference: DDT: Design, Develop, Transform. The opening of the exhibition at the m hka was grandiose. A bunch of super smart and highly creative people participated: almost all of them working in the field of futures. Jim Dator from Hawaii was there, also several of his former students.

I didn't like the few bits about corporate culture in which the speaker demonstrated how to have one's heart beat in synchronicity with the other participants. That made me feel very uneasy, almost nauseous... I felt I didn't want to share my heart within such a setting. Although in more "normal", "human" situations I don't really mind to share and help. So being curious, taking care of myself, without being selfish is a good start. Yet I am more careful: when I feel somebody is trying to take too much advantage of me, then I don't let it slide.

More  tomorrow!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

10.000 people marching for peace and inclusion

Hakata, Uncya in her wheelchair, myself and a young man called Wim. I wore my Bernie for President T-shirt. A lot of people took pictures of it. Usually without my head.
It was a long day, but fruitful: with ten thousand people and no incidents it was a gift. I listened to people at the Dakota pipeline and how the drinking water is polluted by the work done. There was also a lot of music, dancing and many pink woolen hats... Also climate change is an issue and we need to keep an eye on the American President... who is just now saying on TV that they wouldn't do anything about climate change: Mr President: Climate change is real!!! More talking on the train home and when I got out of the train station a taxi arrived and brought me home. The strange thing is that I recognized the driver, he is a real philosopher. I told him that I had been in his cab before and remembered how he talked...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Aging is a bitch

I am beginning to feel my age. My energy is dwindling which could be just a sign of depression. Loneliness, I never felt before, but there aren't too many friends around anymore with whom to talk, to exchange. I am trying to mend my ways by going back to do some work for PEN-Flanders, just to be useful. I don't know what is going on with my daughter, besides working too hard. She often has people around, staying for a while. So I don't drop in to see whether she has time. I am afraid she is really sick with her ear hurting so much. I do feel excluded at times. I translated poetry for Bruges from Dutch into English, so I was useful, yet being alone with a small dog all the time and just communicating by e-mail isn't really a fulfilling life. Ah, when the book is out, I will be proud of all the work I did by giving the Tourists in Bruges a possibility to read about it in their own language.

I guess it is all about change. Tonight there is a presentation in "Den Hopsack".  Frank and Guy will be there, so should I. But maybe picking up Maya at the Berchem train station is what I need to do. I do admit that I feel insecure.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The old gasstation

The old gasstation was Tony Mafia's pride and joy. Of course it was also his studio where he painted and our home. I still have my writing desk there. Every year I went back after Tony passed away and repainted the windows and the doors, all wood that could suffer from a harsh winter. I have been there every year since Tony Mafia passed away. Tourists walk by and come in. Friends stop by for a chat. People ask me how I survive in Chloride. Sometimes I wonder too. With Tony it was fun, he would paint, I wrote and walked the Mohave desert. We would drive to Kingman for shopping and to the Hualapai mountains on the dirt road to the Colorado river. Life seemed easy then.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Opening of the m hka exhibition by my daughter.

Maya even had a article in the  newspaper "De Morgen". You cannot imagine how I admire Maya and Bram in what they have realized. The atmosphere was warm, people looked, played with the objects meant to play with and there generally was just great interaction among people. Also friends came and I am sure it pleased Maya and Bram... I was smitten with the historic timeline, I found it beautiful, and walked it at least three times. Yet also the walls, the large materials hanging, it was all impressive and there was a energetic buzz among people, old friends meeting again, like Flor Bex for whom I did translations into English for his art magazine and he remembered that. Strangely some people I would have expected weren't there: but the close friends and the family did show up and it was nice to have Maximus there, Maya's godson. I intent to go back, maybe take a few pictures or ask Bram. I wonder what they will surprise me with next.

m hka reopening by Maya Van Leemput one of the currators

Well, I am a overwhelmed proud mother: Maya and Bram did a remarkable job, all about the future. I loved the timeline on the floor with names in steel tubes. I loved listening to the chosen speakers about the future. Kee Watchman (Navajo) was one of them and I recognized the faces of some of the other experts... The atmosphere was amazing. people talked, had discussions, enjoyed the atmosphere. One could lay out one's vision of the future with cards pertaining to a subject. I was also glad to see that some kids came, Maximus was one of them. It was also good to meet old friends again. I don't know whether Maya will have a bit of rest, which I hope for her... I'll ask Bram for one of his pictures to ad to the blog so that  people also have a visual impression...
Maya even had a article in the  newspaper "De Morgen". You cannot imagine how I admire Maya and Bram in what they have realized. The atmosphere was warm, people looked, played with the objects meant to play with and there generally was just great interaction among people. Also friends came and I am sure it pleased Maya and Bram... I was smitten with the historic timeline, I found it beautiful, and walked it at least three times. Yet also the walls, the large materials hanging, it was all impressive and there was a energetic buzz among people, old friends meeting again, like Flor Bex for whom I did translations into English for his art magazine and he remembered that. Strangely some people I would have expected weren't there: but the close friends and the family did show up and it was nice to have Maximus there, Maya's godson. I intent to go back, maybe take a few pictures or ask Bram. I wonder what they will surprise me with next.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Gasstation in Chloride

So sad that after all these years of coming and going to Chloride, some people took it upon themselves to ransack the kitchen, leave it filthy and with a panel from the ceiling having fallen down, food rests and just unrespectful behavior.

Thanks to my dear friends Cooper and Irene, Lisa agreed to clean up the place and we'll obviously pay her for her work. I must admit like it is a sign, a confirmation of our intention to ship all Tony's paintings to Antwerp, Belgium. And hopefully the lady who has an interest in Tony's work (knew of him, independently from me) she can organize a large permanent or traveling connection of Tony's work so that it can be seen and admired by many...

Thank you Coop!

I owe you,


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Preparations for a grand exhibition...

My daughter Maya is curator for an exhibition in the Mu ka. That is very exciting and quite a lot of work. Some people show moving parts, others simultaneous screens. One of the people participating has been my guest for the last couple of days: Darius from Lithuania. A quiet smart guy, smart like all the participants of this really special event. Her house is filled with beautiful people with interesting minds. One can feel the energy of these young scientist, researchers. They still have a few days: the opening is the 27th... I was glad to be able to help by running errands, buying some materials she needs. Her home became a gathering point for beautiful, interesting people. Like a pod of creative scientists doing what needs to be done to inform, to stun, to make people think. At least they make me think about the many options we have in life. They are using their options well.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Claire mc caskil

Antifascism women

Aan de Heer Bart De Wever, burgemeester van de stad Antwerpen
Aan de Dames en Heren van het schepencollege van Antwerpen

Antwerpen, 20 april 2017

Geachte heer Burgemeester,  Dames en Heren van het schepencollege van Antwerpen

Wij Anti-fa vrouwen van Antwerpen zijn uitermate bezorgd over wat er op 1 mei allemaal staat te gebeuren.
Wij, grootmoeders, moeders, en geëngageerde vrouwen vragen dat U, als Burgemeester,niet toestaat dat extreem rechts die dag betoogt in Antwerpen.
Al jaren liepen de meesten onder ons in de 1 mei optocht mee. We willen er ook nu weer bij zijn. Wij zijn steeds verheugd over de optredens en de gezelligheid op de Grote Markt.
Maar dit jaar dreigt er onheil omdat NATION en N-SA hun aanhangers oproepen tot een bijeenkomst op de groenplaats om 15 uur voor een betoging door de Antwerpse binnenstad. Wij vragen U geen toestemming te geven voor deze extreem rechtse, fascistoïde betoging.

Geen fascisten in onze stad!
Anti-fa vrouwen zijn tegen geweld en de 1-mei viering komt in het gedrang indien men de neo-nazi’s een platform biedt.

Geachte heer burgemeester, het is uiteindelijk uw beslissing de gebruikelijke één mei stoet veilig te laten verlopen en te vermijden dat er een hele namiddag van onrust en oproer zou ontstaan.

Wij hopen op de wijsheid van uw besluit,


Alice Holemans, voorzitter
Ann Van Eynde-Neutens
Carmen Van Herbruggen
Renier van Mensel
Annmarie Sauer
Wim Goiris

Onafhankelijke Actiecomitee Vrouwen Tegen Fascisme/Racisme
NAIS- activistennieuws

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

2. traditioneel Navajo, a sing - Traditional Navajo, a sing

Traditioneel Navajo: dit gaat over een sing, een ceremonie dus…  de zanger is de medicijn man.  Wij vergeten immers dat woorden magisch en genezend zijn.

De zanger  streelde het lichaam van de patiënt
en drukte zijn lichaam tegen het lichaam van de patiënt

heb je geleerd? Vroeg men hem
en hij antwoordde, ja.

Ze zongen de hele nacht, en de patiënt leerde
en voelde zich goed.

Toen vertelde men hem zeker alles te onthouden
wat hem was geleerd, wat al het vergetene
zou terug gaan naar de goden –


Traditional Navajo: this is about a sing, thus about a ceremony... The singer is the medicine man. We do forget that words are magical and have healing power.

The singer caressed the body of the patient 
and held his body against the body of the patient

have you learned? They asked him
and he answered , yes.

They sang the whole night, and the patient learned and felt good.

Then they told him to surely remember everything
he was thought, because all that was forgotten
would go back to the gods -

With Red Ink - Met Rode inkt

een stem ga ik sturen
hoor mij
in het hele heelal
een stem ga ik sturen.
Hoor mij,
Ik zal leven.
Ik heb gezegd.

-- Red Bird, Lakota Sun Dance Prayer

I will send a voice.
Hear me
In the whole universe
I will send a voice
Hear me,
I will live.
I have spoken.

-- Red Bird, Lakota Sun Dance Prayer

Saturday, April 1, 2017

From Pucini's opera La Boheme

Mimi: It is deadly to be alone in winter, in spring the sun keeps us company... Mimi wasted away from turberculosis and her Bohemian friends brought her to the hospital where she dies.

My mother had tuberculosis and was brought to the Stuyvenberg Hospital in Antwerp. Yet she had already infected me. thus in Februari, while being in first grade, just learning to read and write and I, always a bit clumsy then, couldn't get the letters quiet straight. Without any explanation I was put on a small van with children. I was brought to a room where the windows were always open. There were seven beds and the whether permitting we would go for a walk in the clean air. I didn't like the food. i usually would spill it. And while in the sanatorium I read books in German, English and what they had in Dutch... Of course my handwriting never good clear and beautiful because I never practiced it...

The Brussels Party

Hakata, the big sister of Petra picked me up for our ride to Brussels. I was very impressed by all Petra had been preparing. She had chosen to have everything in the slightly salted version, even the delicious black forest treat. Being former colleagues I asked how work at the EP was these days. I was astonished at what I heard: work is seemingly less interesting, less fun also. The rules seem more mathematic and the hours are counted everyone is sitting it his/her booth for the day. Just a few people dare to speak out. Petra is smart and strong willed, but it was obvious that work was no longer fun. I did love my job, but left a few years early because I saw the sands shifting and work getting less interesting. Petra weathers the storms, does what needs to be done. I recognized also a few younger colleagues. It was a gathering of young professionals and once I was part of that crowd. Yet with what I heard I know my decision was right when I took early retirement. Now when  one doesn't have to interpret in a meeting, one still has to sit in the booth. It seems one has to spend a certain amount of hours in the booth even when not working. I also realize that for some of my younger colleagues life has become hard, maybe boring. I must say I enjoyed my job and when there were foreign missions, I always volunteered. Now there is only the monthly session in Strasbourg. It made me feel sad that my younger, smart colleagues won't have the same for me fulfilling experience in their job. Of course the younger colleagues take it all in their stride. It was good to hear the babble in different languages. I tried to find people for my daughters conference,  but sadly her conference coincides with the plenary session in Strasbourg. I am seriously wondering whether I can still cope with pressure of simultaneous interpreting working from and into two languages that I know well but my English is more solid than my French... The problem for the young interpreters that would be working at DDT conference is that they would be working into two languages which might not be their strongest languages. Well, it was an interesting group of people and actually a nice day.
Thank you Petra, thank you Hakata.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Erbarme dich

A new book by Marleen Decree was presented last night February 24th in Gallery The Black Panter.
The whole chapel was packed. I was a bit late and only had a seat on the first row...
The sequence of such presentations is always the same: There is the person who does the introduction: Johan van Cauwennberghe introduced the book Erbarme Dich, as always a smart analysis of the poetry at hand. Also we got some insights about what had inspired Marleen: This time Marleen had fallen in love with the photographs by Mirjam Devriendt of the sculptures by Hilde De Bruyckere. So she wrote a series of poems inspired by these photographs. As always there was wonderful music on a huge but sensitive Theorbe... performed by Floris De Rycker. The people showed up... the room was filled by her admirors and friends. Marleen read a few of her poems. I was a bit sick, so I skipped the fun early. Also not to pass on my bad cough. Her publisher Leo Peeraer gave the first copies to Marleen and Floris and Adriaan.

I gave her my texts of Blaise Cendrars and am curious as to what she will be doing with it... since they are leaving for their stay in France...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

neighbors in a big building

My neighbor is 83. She is also forgetful and lonely. So since I am closest to her, she drops in, comes by and walks in the city, probably finding some friends. She also eats out a lot. She enjoys being among people and dislikes having to eat on her own. So tonight I'll share my sturdy lentil soup with her. Some people you get to know, you learn how they tick, what their issues are. For Lucy, it is mainly loneliness, a daughter in cape town, a son in Los Angeles. For her age she is well groomed and good looking. Another neighbor is heavily invested in the local church. Another one, a man has the weirdest collections: angels, teddy bears, printing letters... He keeps the spot immaculate. And then there are the noisy neighbors...

Poem in Dutch:

De kraaien

Ik woon onder een kraaienfamilie
rumoerige buren
nee, dit is geen metafoor
het zijn echte kraaien
zwart glimmend in regen, hagel
zon en wind

Ik zie hoe ze even die extra vleugelslag geven
om op het dak te landen

Maar weet niet of het altijd dezelfde kraai is
met altijd een ander takje

Soms hoor ik hen rommelen op het dak
keitjes herschikken
en vraag me af of ze een versterkt
kraaienkasteel bouwen of een burcht
of ze steentjes dragen in hun snavel
en ze laten vallen als hagel

zomaar om te rumoeren en te spelen

Het hele dak is van hen
ik ben onderdak met hen
dit gezelschap van kraaien
boven mij
en woon in de wereld onder ‘t

voel me oude zeerover
of misschien verander ik zelf
en wordt een oude kraai

maar geen witte raaf
met wit haar


The crows

I live under a family of crows
noisy neighbours
no, this is not a metaphor
it are real crows
black shining in the rain, hail
sun and wind

I see how they briefly give an extra flap of the wing
to land on the roof

yet I do not know whether it is always the same crow
with always a different branch

Sometimes I hear the rummaging on the roof
rearrange the pebbles
en wonder whether they are building a strong
crow castle or a stronghold
or carry stones in their beak
and drop them with a sond of hail

just to make noise and to play

The whole roof is theirs
I am with them under their roof
this company of crows
above me
and live in the world under the
crows nest

feel like an old sailor
or maybe I do change
and become an old crow


Friday, February 24, 2017

Derroll Adams

Widows do have a task, that is to keep the memory of the one they lost alive. In this case Danny Adams visited me today and brought a new CD that is just out : Feelin' fine. For those who forgot: Derroll Adams was born in Portland Town, as the song states in Oregon, in 1925, and passed away in Antwerp in 2000. Derroll's instrument is the banjo and he is special in how he handled the banjo. Like many artists and musicians they kept going back and forth between Europe and the USA. Tony was a good guitar player (he also played flamenco, Paco di Lucia style). Yet for Tony his main way of expression was painting. Derroll also painted but for him the music came first. Danny now has the CD out and will find other ways of seeing to it that Derroll will not be forgotten.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


I live in a big building with 76 apartments. We have people with different languages, with different colors. With english or french we usually manage. The population is aging. My neighbor is getting "forgetful". Sometimes she rings my doorbell more than 12 times a day. Yet if she could help me she would do so. She is physically really fit, with less aches and pains than I have. He has a really set schedule: having a coffee across the street. Just to have seen other people and so she doesn't feel alone. She is kind and helpful. Still dies her hair blond. She likes to be entertained and to be surrounded by people. Both her children however live a continent away. One in South Africa and the other one in the USA. She still is adventurous taking the tram to go to a nice lively square where she can have a, or more than a drink and where is surrounded my people. It is sad that her mind her memory is going. I am training myself to be patient, to try give her some time over a coffee or tea. There are other kind folks in the building like Sofia, younger than Lucy. She is very religious, takes communion regularly. So she must be one certain to go to heaven. There is also a University professor Mia, well read and thus interesting to me. She is a voracious reader and she likes a drink like Elixir d'Anvers. She has a cleaning lady, Julia, who is there most days: she cleans,  helps with the care for Mia's son and ranges, makes the bed and does shopping, cleans the bathtub. She rides a light motorbike. Only in winter when there is ice on the streets and snow then she doesn't like it. There are Jewish people and people I can't classify on the basis of their name. Of course there are two architects members of the council of the building. There is also a variety of dogs, Tootsie the Yorkshire terrier, a big one, a small barking a lot white one and of course my very own DoggyDog. I like this variety and the view from my 12th floor over the old city. I also enjoy the morning sun.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Multi cultural aspects of life.

I live in Antwerp in an old high rise. This implies there are a lot of different nationalities, that several languages are spoken in the building, yet from high blond to black we greet each other as neighbors and some times take the time for a chat, or to admire a new baby or pet a dog. A friend of mine asked me a while ago whether I could talk for an hour explaining about multiculturalism to a a handful of girls. I am also bringing some books by Native American authors I really like.

My favorites: Sherman Alexie, Scott Momaday, MariJo Moore, Luci Tapahonso, Ramson Lomatewama, Simon J. Ortiz, James Kale McNelly.

I also need to buy some multicultural cookies. I have "baldheads" (Kletskopjes) and "mini bagels" and Rochers "rocks" made of coconut....

Now when the kids finally arrived we were two hours late and the task description was totally different. When I had finally figured out that they wanted some very different I could do it: they wanted a person's life story, that is to say mine, because they happened on my doorstep (actually my daughter's doorstep). Then I concentrated on a light introduction, encouraged them to ask questions and they seemed to enjoy themselves. So one person will be writing a portrait of the person they think I am. They were happy when they left.

Then I ran out to find a stack of books that I thought I would need and couldn't find: all my Native American  Poetry... Those books are hard to replace when you are a continent away... I retraced my steps where I had been and with a sigh of relief found them huddled together. I read a lot of poetry, find it intriguing, refreshing and beautiful.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Politics in Trump times

Having worked at the European Parliament has given me a bit of insight of how 27 states can work together... Yet what CNN, BCC and other TV-channels show me these days is beyond my comprehension. The turmoil, the confusion and the arrogance is mind boggling. It all seems haphazard, not thought through. There seems to be no trust, just in some people the blatant arrogance of power. If T. doesn't know anymore what to do he starts an other press conference. The meeting with his Israeli colleague Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu was to say the least weird. Trump suddenly didn't care whether a one state or two state solution. He only suggested to cool it a bit with the settlements. Palestinians have once again gotten the short stick.
Living in Antwerp, near a larger Jewish section makes me wonder how the people there feel. I see the different 'factions' in how they dress. I see how the young Jewish girls are little happy princesses and then when they grow up they seem not happy anymore. They have a bunch of children in tow, seem often sullen and down. Maybe they long to go back to Israel where the weather is better.
Yet what I really don't understand is how suddenly a person becomes Trumps best friend and how they get fired, or they make the decision to leave the ongoing madness and try and salvage their dignity...
Elizabeth Warren is my favorite together with Claire McCaskill
I root for them.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Domestic trouble in the morning leading to empowerment

In the evening I always let down the blind in the kitchen to keep the cold out. Yet when I tried to make it go up again, there seemed to be a bit of confusion in the workings. Then I noticed a tiny message on the device that the batteries were empty. I thought I just knew the shop where to get the small batteries I needed. I was pointed in the right direction by the kind old lady of the shop, because they didn't carry that. At the shop, basically DoggyDog couldn't come in. But soon enough the shopkeeper gave me the correct size batteries and for 4.99€ I was on my way home again in the very brisk frosty morning. I put the batteries in, reconnected the device to its support and for 20 seconds, or half a minute the blind was confused, made a few weird movements, but then success: the blind went up and seems to be functioning well. I could have asked for help, but didn't and in not doing that and figuring it out by myself I felt strangely empowered. Yesterday, I managed to fix my printer and was also proud and now feel empowered... May it last a long time ;-)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Courage against Racism

Coretta Scott King, the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., urged Congress in a letter to block the 1986 nomination of Jeff Sessions for federal judge, saying that allowing him to join the federal bench would “irreparably damage the work of my husband.” The letter, previously unavailable publicly, was obtained on Tuesday by The Washington Post.
(Read the full letter below)
The letter was read by courageous Elizabeth Warren. She was silenced and brought outside the Congress, where in the hall she went on reading the full letter which follows here:
“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” King wrote in the cover page of her nine-page letter opposing Sessions’s nomination, which failed. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”
Thirty years later, Sessions, now a senator, is again undergoing confirmation hearings as President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, and he is facing fierce opposition from civil rights groups.
In the letter, King writes that Sessions ascension to the federal bench “simply cannot be allowed to happen,” arguing that as a U.S. attorney, the Alabama lawmaker pursued “politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions” and that he “lacks the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge.” She said Sessions’s conduct in prosecuting civil rights leaders in a voting-fraud case “raises serious questions about his commitment to the protection of the voting rights of all American citizens.”
“The irony of Mr. Sessions’ nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given a life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods,” she wrote, later adding, “I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made toward fulfilling my husband’s dream.”

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Politics in America

I am beyond astonished or flabbergasted by the political events in my country, the USA. I am an American abroad and that is not easy right now. I have incredulously been watching what Trump causes, his blustering approach and his narcissistic personality. His not thought through actions do not give me a safe feeling. Mr Trump: greatness is earned, not bought by money nor by power. He has been rude with other leaders, even in a case where he needs the help of that country in order to find a place for the many refugees. October, November last year I was in Chloride, Arizona and was astonished by the strange change that came over the country like a dark and foreboding cloud! Now my worst fears have been confirmed. My country, our country dear fellow Americans, is being ruled by a narcissistic bully. Also by someone who changes his mind in a flash. Someone who insults, by his actions and his words. Someone who thinks briefly about a short term solution for a serious problem at hand.

I watched him sign the presidential decrees, always showing his signature. It are interesting times when terminology changes, when a new person comes to office. Miss Kelly-anne Conway is rather good at inventing a "massacre" that never happened: "Bowling Green Massacre". The travel ban is causing a lot grief and confusion. The president has already caused a lot of grief and confusion. He has quarreled with the Australian premier, an ally he needs. By his blustering approach, his not thinking through of issues, or getting real advice makes me shudder. His choice in people who surround him also hurts my sensibilities.

Dear congress members, members of she senate I admire the people who stand up against him because they have moral fiber and integrity and take the high road. Also, please do realize climate change is a reality, whatever deniers may say. Don't forget, we only have one earth!

I congratulate and support the Federal Judge who dared to block Trump's executive order('s).

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Where Water Comes Together with Other Water / Raymond Carver

Joris Iven, composed, translated and introduced this new and fascinating book about Raymond Carver, born on July 2nd in 1938 in Clatskanie, a small town in the northwestern state of Oregon. His father kept the saws sharp for the sawmill. So he is a kid from an American working class family. The books opens with the line "I have had two lives. My first life ended in June 1977, when I stopped drinking." He wrote this in a autobiographical note. His first life, was the longest and without a doubt the least fortunate. His writing feels dark and threatening, probably because money and health were extremely precarious. He met Maryann, then 15 and they got married two years later. They had two children. It was usually Maryann who brought in the money. They were always studying, but is was Raymond's goal to become a writer. He followed a lot of writing workshops, creative writing courses and such. They were extremely poor, and it wasn't easy to get his work published.
The moved around a lot, he was a notorious drunk, the bottle of Vodka always under the front seat of his car. In 1977 he met Tess Gallagher whom he married not long before his death. In 1987 he was diagnosed with lung cancer, too late for a surgical intervention and soon afterwards a brain tumor was found. Radiation didn't work, the cancer kept coming back. He passed away on august 2nd, 1988. After his death A new path to the waterfall (1989) came out.
I like Joris Iven's translation into Dutch, keeping the dark feeling of thread.
Joris's introduction was also very helpful.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Poetry and friends

Yesterday Inge, a dear friend, and I met up, talking, visiting a gallery where her teacher has an exhibition and listening to her explanation that is was all about the translucency of the background which is a very difficult thing to get right. She has been studying with him for a really long time and she really wants to get it right having developed quite a sharp eye.

Sitting in front of a text is a quite a different activity. And I am not sure I do get it right. It is a good thing in dark times to seek the light in poetry, in friends one hasn't seen for a long time. So I look
forward to this afternoon's event when Joris Iven presents his new book. And then there is also another consolation: José Meyvis playing in the teachers performance tonight. The Music school is right across from me and in summer I would just have to open the windows to hear the lovely sounds above the heavy city traffic. So today will be a day of friendship and culture. It might even be a day of healing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The passing away of fathers

How honest can I be in a public piece of writing? My stepfather and I did not have a good relationship. That is the kindest I can be about it. And then say no more. The void is good for me. It becomes a place I can use for healing. So next Sunday I'll walk with a friend while talking. She has had similar bad experiences but then found other means to deal with it all. I am sure a long walk/talk will be good for myself and hopefully also for her.
I have recently seen in a friend what the sorrow for the loss of a real father really is. I knew the man and I liked him a lot. I have also seen how strong the mother tries to be. A long marriage, a close friendship, a real pair with enough space for both of them. Quite a way to be.