Wednesday, August 25, 2010


If you love contemporary or classical German poetry and happen to be in or pass through Antwerp, we expect you September 16 th in den Hopsack (Grote Pieter Pot street) Doors 8,30 PM.

In Gegenlesung two German poets present their latest volume of poetry, Fred Schywek and Wielfried Bienek. Bienek will read from Blocksatz. The following poem is from Hafenklänge, an new anthology with work of six poets.


Land. Land unter.
Land unter den Füßen.
Der Flug beendet.
Die Fahrt vorbei.

Wir falten die Arme,
vom Schwimmen ermüdet.
Entriegeln die Beine,
vom Fliegen im Krampf.

Heben den Kopf,
Hals Über das Wasser.
Atmen die Luft,
Kopf unter Wolken.

Die Beine bedecken.
Die Hände aufdecken.
Den Körper vergessen.
Ausbreiten am Ufer.

Zum Trocknen im Wind.
Die Luft sei geladen.
Sie sei unser Gast


Land. Land onder.
Land onder de voeten.
De vlucht ten einde.
De vaart voorbij.

Wij kruisen de armen,
van 't zwemmen vermoeid.
Ontsluiten de benen,
van 't vliegen verkrampt.

De kop heffen,
hals boven 't water.
Ademen de lucht,
kop onder wolken.

De benen bedekken.
De handen ontbloten.
Het lichaam vergeten.
Uitspreiden op de oever.

Om te drogen in de wind.
De lucht weze genodigd.
Zij weze onze gast.

Geblazen het zout.
Weids smaakt het water.
Wij proeven de grond.


Land. Land under.
Land under feet.
Ended the flight.
Over the voyage.

We cross our arms,
tired of swimming.
Unlock the legs
cramped by flying.
To lift the head,
neck above water.
To breathe the air,
head under clouds.

Legs under cover
on the cover the hands.
Forget the body.
Spread on the shore.

To dry in the wind.
The air be invited,
to be our guest.

Blown the salt.
Wide was the taste of water.
We tasted the bottom.

Tomorrow a poem by the other German poet, Fred Schywek, who will read from 'Felsenleiter' - Rockstairs - à suivre...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Small Festival of European Art of Poetry


Klein Festival van de Europese Dichtkunst
Kleines Festival der Europäischen Dichtkunst
Small Festival of European Art of Poetry
Petit Festival Européen de l'art de la poésie

takes place in Antwerp.

For the most current program:


reservations needed, possible through the comments on the blog.

Monday, August 16, 2010


A specter haunts Europe, the specter of seventeen syllables (5/7/5) called Haiku. The president of the European Union regularly publishes his writings and reads them, in the accustomed way, that is twice. I guess it is because it so brief, that one has to hear it twice, our attention having been primed by the first reading. It often shares an insight, a common occurrence or a seasonal element, called 'a kigo' in Japanese. Also landscape elements are required. Gust Gils a Flemish poet and a bit of a contrarian wrote some funny haiku which he called 'Flandriu'.

Marleen De Smet wrote the following as a gesture of resistance against violence:

een gebroken steen
huilt met duizend breuklijnen
ik weet het zeker

a shattered stone
cries with a thousand fault lines
I know for sure

You can hear her read (also some love poems) on September 18, in the main Library Permeke in Antwerp, during a performance organized as a satellite project in the framework of Ruhr area 2010, Cultural Capital of Europe.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What is madness

This poem by Theodore Roethke hung on the wall of a friend in Arizona. one sentence leaped out to me: What is madness but nobility of the soul at odds with circumstance...
Sometimes his wring the small and intimate through observation of nature, sometimes there is a familiarity with walt Withman and some times heis a raving giant battling wth the elements and circumstance...IN A DARK TIME

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood-
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks – is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is-
Death of self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

In een donkere tijd

In een donkere tijd, begint het oog te zien,
Ik ontmoet mijn schim in de dieper wordende schaduw;
Ik hoor mijn echo in het echoënd woud-
Een meester der natuur huilt tegen een boom.
Ik leef tussen de reiger en winterkoning,
Beesten van de berg en slangen van het hol.

Wat is waanzin dan adel van de ziel
Haaks op omstandigheden? De dag staat in brand!
Ik ken de puurheid van pure wanhoop,
Mijn schaduw gepend tegen een klamme muur.
Die plek tussen de rotsen – is het een grot,
Of windend pad? Alleen aan de kant kan ik nog staan.

Een gestage stroom van toevalligheden!
Een nacht vloeiend met vogels en rafelige maan,
En op klaarlichte dag steeds weer middernacht!
Een man gaat ver om te ontdekken wat hij is-
Dood van het zelf in een lange, tranenloze nacht,
Alle natuurlijke vormen stralen onnatuurlijk licht.

Donker, donker mijn licht, donkerder mijn verlangen.
Mijn ziel, als een warmte dronken zomervlieg,
Blijft zoemen bij het raam. Welk Ik is Ik?
Een gevallen man, klim ik uit mijn angst.
De geest treedt in zichzelf, en God in de geest,
En een is Eén, vrij in de tranende wind.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Death of an unpopular poet

A dear friend of mine's, great fisherman, hunter, living near Eugene, favorite poets are Jimmy Buffet and Roger Miller.
So for him and for the strugling poets of today and the music of the seventies this post.

The death of an unpopular poet. On the link you can hear the song.

Death Of An Unpopular Poet Lyrics

By: Jimmy Buffett

I once knew a poet
Who lived before his time
He and his dog Spooner
Would listen while he'd rhyme
Words to make ya happy
Words to make you cry
Then one day the poet suddenly did die

But he left behind a closet
Filled with verse and rhyme
And through some strange transaction
One was printed in the Times
And everybody's searchin'
For the king of undergound
Well they found him down in Florida
With a tombstone for a crown

Everybody knows a line
From his book that cost four ninety-nine
I wonder if he knows he's doin'
Quite this fine

'Cause his books are all best sellers
And his poems were turned to song
Had his brother on a talk show
Though they never got along
And now he's called immortal
Yes he's even taught in school
They say he used his talents
A most proficient tool

But he left all of his royalties
To Spooner his ol' hound
Growin' old on steak and bacon
In a doghouse ten feet 'round
And everybody wonders
Did he really lose his mind
No he was just a poet who lived before his time
He was just a poet who lived before his time

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ich bin - I am

This poem by Job Degenaar poss an interesting problem for the translator. In the Dutch poem, the author uses a few German phrases, referring to the classic movie Der Blauwe Engel phrases every one in Holland would probbly understand and recognize. I am not so sure that my American friends would. Yet just translating the original into English would take away the exotic element in the poem. So here is the solution I choose.
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, I am

Blossom heavy bows tonight
the old apple tree

and she there, satin angle
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

Poem from the volume Ich Bin - I am, to be published in Autumn by wib

Monday, August 9, 2010

The color of full moon

Bart Stouten has a blog on which he posts almost dayly his poems:This one was on his old blog.

De kleur van volle maan

We hebben samen, zoals oudjes het zouden doen,
de kleur beslist van onze gedeelde living.
Jij koos voor volle maan. Ik moest een laatste kwartier
slapeloss in het midden van de nacht,
onder het dakraam dat ons inspireerde.

We moeten tijdig leren terugtrekken, 

als water, op gezette tijden,

schelpen achterlatend voor de kinderen 

die nog zullen komen. Elke zondag
de koffie. Ik moet er niet
aan denken.

The color of full moon.

Together, as old people would,
we decided the color of our shared living.
You choose for full moon, I had to think
a last quarter, sleepless in the middle of the night,
under the skylight which inspired us.

We had to learn to pull back in time,
as water, at fixed times,
leaving shells for children
who yet have to come. Each Sunday
for Tea. The very thought of it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Chicken Suit

In the last post I mentioned the New York poet Robert Hershon publisher of
Hanging Loose Press implying I like his poetry. I like it enough to have translated some. A lighthearted yet thoughtful Chicken Suit from Calls from the Outside World.

A man in a chicken suit
stands at the subway exit
handing out flyers and loudly
procmaiming the virtues of
honey-fried wings or money-
back onion rings
It's hard to understand him
through the plastic beak and
what does a man in a chicken suit
really have to say to you anyway
This assumes it's always the same
man inside the chicken suit but
it might be a new guy every day
unless he is dedicated to this form
of career in a chicken suit
And I have been watching him
from the third floor window
for half an hour now
which may indicate the level
of my own ambition this morning
The eagle suit lies on a chair
waiting for a smart breeze


De man in een kippenpak
staat aan de uitgang van de metro
deelt reclame uit en luid
verkondigt hij de deugden van
honinggebakken vleugeltjes of geld
terug uienringen
’t Is lastig hem te verstaan
door de plastic bek en
wat heeft een man in een kippenpak
je überhaupt echt te zeggen
Dit veronderstelt dat het altijd dezelfde
man is in het kippenpak maar
het kon een nieuwe kerel zijn elke dag
tenzij hij zijn zinnen heeft gezet op dit soort
carrière in een kippenpak
En ik heb hem in de gaten gehouden
vanuit het raam van de derde verdieping
al een half uur nu
wat iets zou kunnen zeggen over het niveau
van mijn eigen ambitie deze morgen
Het arendspak ligt op een stoel
en wacht op een vinnige bries

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

War Dances

War Dances is Sherman Alexie's latest volume of short stories, sprinkled with some poems.  His wily approach  always surprises. His short stories make one think, muse and ponder, enjoy the changes of tone and all that jazz. He is master of metaphor and of reality and his writing is moving, heart breaking and contrary. Identity, society, writing are recurrent themes in all his writing  I know. I love his poetry even more with its weird forms and the formal games he plays. His fifth volume, as always published by Robert Hershon of Hanging Loose Press ( a rather decent poet himself) is titled  Face and is a translators nightmare. One day, when I see an ocean of time in front of me I will try new approaches to translating.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

at the edge of mass media

(am Rande des Massenmediums)

Menschen starben, weil Menschen
sich ihrer Verantwortung nicht bewußt
waren und sie nicht ernst nahmen

am tunnel buh

zeitgleich steuern
________ Schaller
gleichzeitig fallen
im Tunnel
die Menschen

(Germany at the side line of mass media)

People died, because people
not conscious of their responsibility
didn't take it seriously

at the tunnel boo

Synchronicity steering.
____________ Schaller
at the same time falling
in the tunnel
are falling to the ground

(aan de zijlijn van de massamedia)

Mensen stierven, omdat mensen
zich van hun verantwoordelijkheid niet bewust
waren en haar niet ernstig opnamen

aan de tunnel van boe

Tijdgelijk sturen.
_______ Schaller
Te gelijker tijd vallen
in de tunnel
de mensen
op elkaar

foto: sms foto duisburg germany,
copyright 2010
Fred Schywek
Duisburg am Rhein
zur Loveparade
Duisburg 2010