Sunday, January 24, 2016

Op droeve velden - On saddened fields -

The evening about world war I was part poetry and piano recital and part peace action, organized by Frank De Vos in cooperation with the district of Hoboken. In 2016, 2 million German troops stood against 3 million of the allied forces. My great-uncle Edo as a young boy in Flanders fields. Poison gas as first used on April 22, 1915. From 1915 to 1918 not only one and a half million Armenians were killed by the Turkish regime but also thousands of ethnic Greeks and Assyrian Christians.
At the piano was the amazing Billy Pletinck playing the piano, hammering it when needed, caressing when suited. The organization was flawless and during the music pictures from that time were shown in a slide shows. about the Hoboken war experience. After each piece of music a poet read his or her poem. I honor the poets of that evening and the master of ceremony Roger Nupie. Basically this was a multi-disciplinary activity: Music, photography by Hartmut De Martelaere and Goddie Caubergh and ten poets: Peter Holvoet-Hanssen presented an evocation of "The occupied city", the beautiful book by Paul Van Ostayen about the occupation of Antwerp in the forties of last century.
The poets: Cecile Van Houten, Eric Vandenwyngaerden, Annmarie Sauer, Erwin Steyaert, Erick Kila, Ann Van Dessel, Bert Bevers. Only at the end I saw how the hall was filled and that several friends were in the audience. It was a classy and wonderful night. And yes war is wrong: Make Love Not War!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Norris Bennet

Leaving Arizona always brings melancholy since I leave behind dear friends for about a year. So I have learned to cherish my friends while I can. Yes, John and Nadine (and Otis of course who is loved and adored by my Doggy Dog.) Also Cooper and Irene, Tucker and Annie Bones.
Norris Bennet has been a friend since forever. I probably met him when I was 19 or maybe 20. He was part part of a group of buskers and artists in Antwerp. He later moved to the Netherlands, but whenever he came to Belgium he would stay at my place. Derroll Adams, Tony Mafia, Robin an Irish busker who stayed a while with Tony and me ad of course there was singer songwriter Dave Betts. Anyway, this blog is about friendship. Norris always had bad eyesight, but when I met him in November it turned out that he was totally blind. He is one the musicians of The Ebony Hillbilly's, a large all black group playing folk songs. Norris's voice always had a special quality going high and strong. Deep and warm. When I asked him how he cooped, his reply was: you have to know a lot of phone numbers by hart. So I wondered how many he knew. His reply was a few hundred. But enough of that. It was on my way back from Arizona that I decided to have a three day stop over in New York. I wanted to see Norris, feel how he is and then also Carla came with Tara. We had a nice Italian dinner all together. It was wonderful and enlightening to see how he copes. He is a great example. By the way, it was Tony who gave him the Turqoise ring he always wears.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review of "Over ruggen van zalmen" by André Oyen - Over the Backs of Salmon

Translation of a review of "Over ruggen van zalmen, by Annmarie Sauer" Published by Publisher P, Leuven, Belgium. Review by André Oyen.

 Quote: "Everyone I have lost/ in the closing of a door/ the click of the lock/ is not forgotten, they/ do not die but remain/ within the soft edges/ of the earth, the ash "INDIAN BOY LOVE SONG #1)

Language: Dutch
Original language: English
P, 2015 128 pages
Selection from 4 books of poetry: The business of fancydancing (1991), The first Indian on the Moon (1993), The summer of black widows (1996) One stick song (1999)
-->ISBN 9789491455742

Sherman Alexie Joseph, Jr. (Wellpinit (Washington), October 7, 1966 is an American poet, writer and film maker who writes about race and politics in a sharp style without taboo's. Many of his texts are based on his experiences as Native American; as Spokane-Coeur d'Alene Indian in the USA. He is more famous and more influential than other Native American writers, writing in different genres and publishing on a grand scale. He produced and writes film scenarios and can often be seen as a TV commentator. Some of his most famous works are The Lone Ranger, Tonto and the Fistfight in Heaven. His books of poetry often contain long pieces of prose as is the case in The Business of Fancydancing (1992), First Indian on the Moon (1993) and One Stick Song (2000). His first novel Reservation Blues, received in 1996 one of the 15 American Book Awards. His first novel for young adults, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is a semi-autobiographical novel for which in 2007 he received the American National Book Award for Young People's Literature, also the Odyssey Award of 2008 for the best audio book for young people, read by Alexie himself. Yet The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was censored in several American States because of it's positive view on masturbation. His collection of short stories and poems with the title War Dances, won in 2010 the PEN / Faulkner Award for Fiction. In 2013 he received the John Dos Passos Prize. Over de ruggen van zalmen (Over the backs of salmon) is a choice out of the four books of poetry of Alexie all published by Hanging Loose Press by Robert Hershon : The Business of Fancydancing (1992), First Indian on the Moon (1993), The Summer of Black Widows (1996),  One Stick Song (1999)). It is the word artist Annmarie Sauer who saw to a magnificent first translation of this really complex poetry which took pertinent poetry publisher a few years to get used before he was convinced of this translation in which he suddenly saw that element of surprise, the scope and depth of Alexie's work. Annmarie Sauer followed translation and interpretation courses of the Higher Institute for Translators and Interpreters in Antwerp and she also got a special degree as moral councilor. She taught interpreting at the Catholic High School in Antwerp. Sauer was interpreter at the European Parliament. She herself writes poetry, reviews and essays, translates from English, French, German. Her poetry debut in 1985 was "Jardin Public". She also put together a serious anthology of contemporary female authors in Flanders: Eigen wegen.
The beauty of this particular translation is that the original text of Sherman Alexie is also included in the book. So one can follow how beautiful the translator did the job. Just as in his prose, he also gives in his poetry, a personal, sometimes seemingly bizarre view on his being of mixed blood Caucasian and Native American. He digs in the past, comes more or less to terms with the present and does also envision the future. Sentence after sentence of each poem is a thorough search for identity, which is a constant mix of two cultures. As, among others, in the poem 'War All the Time' in which Crazy Horse is a Native American coming back from the Vietnam war and sees that is is called a hero. Only he doesn't know whether he is a red or a white hero. Over the Backs of salmon is a special book of poetry in which one can stay for a long time to roam, to learn, to understand and to enjoy.
 André Oyen. 

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.