Saturday, May 19, 2007

Royal Blue

Last night a tribute to a neo-realist poet was held in the prettiest theater in town. It was a strange hybrid affair. I have read the work of most of the participating poets and a few were new to me: thus an interesting mix. The young poetess known for three words ‘fucking white rabbits’ had a few other interesting images. So let’s not be too harsh on her. The guy introduced as the slam poetry champion of Holland, a performer, and a tiger on stage, to me seemed a droning bore. The clever word games he had on offer I have heard in the sixties and better. The widow of 10 years never has been a favorite writer of mine. So I let compassion reign since I try to practice ahimsa, which is not to hurt any living thing. I have a problem with this tribute: a mausoleum was being build in which also the living were entombed. It would have been a bleak affair in comparison to Goddamn! the sparkling, creative tribute to Nina Simone, if it weren’t for Alfred Schaffer and Gert Vlok Nel. Schaffer is an Antillean poet describing in the gentlest, coolest, borderline perturbing way the anti-terrorist measures in Holland through his colored eyes. ‘More than I can say’ is a cleverly placed repeat phrase. And then the real cathartic discovery Gert Vlok Nel, South African, speaking and singing about loss and love, friendship and the road, the sea. He writes about pain and though coming from a singular place he can touch and move us all and his pain becomes a universal pain shared by all. His South-African/English mix of lyrics - he performed a.o. track 4 which got under my skin - is projected in translation on the screen. Beautiful. Tender. Dynamite. A true tribute to a poet who wanted to dynamitize language. As a bonus there was an old friend with whom I share a love for language and art and thus talking late over coffee and tonic.

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