Monday, December 21, 2009

Salon 12b

Yes it happened Salon 12b: grand and in style: Enjoy the pictures and peruse the program:

Programm / Programma / Program / Programme
Pforten der Abendsonne / Poorten van de Avondzon / Doors of the Evening Sun / Portes du soleil couchant
A cooperation of Salon 12b with DOCKS Dichtkunst zur Zeit (contemporary poetry)
19.00 Peter Holvoet Hanssen
The new poet laureate of Antwerp 2010-11 presents selected poems
19.20 Job Degenaar presents his new book:
Handkussen van de tijd ( Handkisses of Time )
He also reads from the trilogie Flußschiffahrt/ Inland Shipping
Antiwar poetry and Chamber thoughts (Grenzland 3) .
Love in Holland and Flanders
20.00 Catharina Boer
20.20 Rose Vandewalle
Roger Nupie
20.40 Marleen De Smet
Lief Vleugels

Fred Schywek
Ode to Brel: When one has nothing
Tribute to Pete Seeger: Where have all the flowers gone/
Wo sind all die Blumen hin
Embrace of a little cloud
Annmarie Sauer
Roger Nupie
Job Degenaar
Lucienne Stassaert
Patricia Van Nunen sings Jacques Brel Les VIEUX
Lucienne Stassaert, Poems from: In een adem/ In einem Atemzug (WIB 2010)
Patricia Van Nunen song
Hilde Pinnoo, Poems from Avondland/ Abendland (WIB 2010)
Patricia Van Nunen song
Lief Vleugels, two cycles of poetry

Master of Ceremony: Roger Nupie

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


If they ask, I am against war. It is a sad night when the amount of troops will be announced to go and finish a job that cannot be finished by violence. If you are called to go and kill don't go. If a command is given, don't obey. Think for yourself. Sometimes poetry helps you do that: Heal by Fred Schywek in English translation:

what did religion give me
thou shalt not kill
what philosophy
man is measure
what do I give
all freedom

what did the bird take from me
do they finally sleep in winters
on dreams
of moon
and stars
on light
and in the circle
of your senses
the birds
in the winter
do the birds
sing by you on the branch

Monday, November 30, 2009


It has been obvious to some of you there were no new blog posts. Not for lack of subjects or inspiration. On the contrary, so many actions, subjects, writers in prison came up it stopped the flow. The fight against drones, spearheaded by one of my friends, is just one of them and the war in Afghanistan is the biggest mistake yet by the new team in the White House. Yet since I believe art can change the world and since literature is a strong instrument and since translations bridge the differences in culture and can bring understanding the content of the future blogs my change a bit. The concept isn't definite yet but crystallizing slowly. The gentle wind wins says a German proverb. Art against killing (wars and the death penalty, domestic violence...)

A poem by Fred Schywek in English translation:

Jeez us

Thou shalt not kill

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

East and west

Two sunsets one sunrise...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Life & Times of Michael K

Life & Times of Michael K by JM Coetzee is all about the voyage, the road, the process, never about the result. The quest is more important than the finding. And finally it is all about the stories…The point if view of the teller is the story is first the all knowing author and then the care taker of Michael K. trying to know his stories, treeing to save him and in the process being a changed human being. The book ’The Life & Times of Michael K.’ is a fundamental anti-war book. The other protagonists are Time the flow of it and Freedom. A must read.


* Now surely I have come as far as a man can come; surely no one will be mad enough to cross these plains, climb those mountains search these rocks to find me; surely now that in all the world only I know where I am, I can think of myself as lost. p66

* But most of all, as summer slanted to an end, he was learning to love idleness, idleness no longer as stretches of freedom reclaimed by stealth here and there from involuntary labour, surreptitious thefts to be enjoyed sitting on his heels before a flowerbed with the fork dangling from his fingers, but as yielding up of himself to time, to a time flowing slowly like oil from horizon to horizon over he face of the world, washing over his body, circulating in his armpits and his groin, stirring his eyelids.

* He is like a stone, a pebble that, having lain around quietly minding its own business since the dawn of time, is now suddenly picked up and tossed randomly from hand to hand.

* At last he spoke: I am not in the war.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Last Post in Doel

Doel is a small village in the harbor of Antwerp that has to be flattened so that some of the 100 largest Maersk ships can dock here. How many towns have to disappear for these ships? How many people's lives are uprooted and in turmoil. The same happened in Ruigoord, near Amsterdam. At least the town is still standing and it has been turned into an art enclave, where artists work, people visit but where it is forbidden to live. The Ruigoorders have opened an embassy in Doel as a token of support. As far as I am concerned lets close the nuclear plant in Doel and let the people live in Doel. The last post at the last action.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I have learned and felt today that hailstones on your head hurt. Raindrops on your nose however are gentle greetings from a faraway brook where poets are born... or so it seems after the ice.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jazz Middelheim II

Saturday night was great. Chet Mood with Philip Catherine. Nice sweet atmosphere on a languid summer's night. And then came Toots Tielemans with his Dutch Trio. Toots is a Jazz aficionado since 70 years. He and his harmonica and the three great musicians on the base, the drums and the piano giving joy and beauty. The gentle working together, the amicable atmosphere was just contagious. T.T. played several songs for his wife, it was mothers day after all, and as an encore he gave us a heartbreaking rendering of 'Ne me quite pas'... I chocked up, tears streaming... The lyrics by Jacques Brel floated into my head through this exquisite painful piece: I'll be the shadow of your dog, I'll bring a drop of rain from a country where it doesn't rain.... Fragile breaking sound and feeling. Melancholy and Romance on a summer's night in the park in Antwerp.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Jazz Middelheim

With a friend from work I go to concerts. We both have a longing for live music. So Jazz Middelheim it was yesterday and will be next Sunday. The Flat Earth Society was wonderful: melodious, innovative, funky, a big band with space for all personalities. Feel good music with oodles of quality and good unconventional music. Then as the apotheosis of the evening was to come Zorn, Lauri Anderson and her husband Lou Reed. They had performed this work once for a benefit in The Stones in New York. It was difficult. If it had been a cd I would have switched it off. Zorn was aggressive and arrogant overplayed the other two. Or so it seemed to me. In the few 'quieter moments' there were brief glimpses of possible beauty and understanding. Of the people who stayed one quarter really got it and were applauding enthusiastically. I need a teacher for the post experimental free music post avant garde sound of uncoordinated self-expression ...

Thursday, August 13, 2009


This shop, the church, the general layout of the village, the ground plan of the cemetery and the local inflection and pronunciation of German is about all that is left in the material world of my mother's youth. Of course the new village will never replace the memories of a happy childhood during years of holidays spend here. That place will magically always exist, maybe just as a myth. So I felt lost and forlorn. The ravages of WW II are still visible, legible in these German towns. Their hearts have been ripped out by allied bombs and the cheap modernity that came instead is sad testimony to it all. In most cities it was a chance lost, in Duisburg the fountains and the water in the city and the walk made it all alright. Just as did a meeting with a poet and a pick nick in the park. Thus new memories are made.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The adieu for Marcel van Maele

Marcel's ashes today were put in the honor park at Schoonselhof Cemetery. His voice is silent, except for the readings that have been taped.


While silence vexingly begs for attention

time stumbles over the clock

and folds its wings. A wobbly table

with tinkling glass.

No time to listen, no time.

Consider and prevail

how averse of experience

imagination drowns in empty glasses.

Words have left the heart,

rarely leaving their shade.

Shadows sneak into the void,

from silence to silence, still.

Marcel Van Maele

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

William Boyd

This novel Any Human Heart gives us in the form of the diary of Logan Mountstuart an idea of the last century, better than any history book could. Ideas about war, love, sex, booze, countries, fascism, duty, aging and the modern art scene are found in a fast moving story. Of course we find also the life of a writer and comments on historical figures from that time spicing up the biography with personal insights. Grand.

William Boyd uses, as authors do, the experiences of his life to imagine an other person’s life, projecting hope and fear. His attention to detail is masterly and the dark night of the soul is rendered with caring detachment. (I know it’s an oxymoron, but not really). He provides a good, fast paced, enjoyable read and valuable food for thought about the past century and thus also for our life now and tomorrow which hopefully will remain a riotous mess.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Marcel Van Maele II

Another translation for Carine, his dear companion and Lucienne his good friend and all who miss Marcel and his irreverence and rowdiness:



Strolling through the past I remember

remembering. So this image stands

even when years have gone. What time it is

I don’t know, something between coming and going,

between day and night

midnight for instance.

Space has no plural and time

no number and yes it is good

to know the more the better

to forget.

Summoned to gather

those coming and those going

now too early, then too late,

here all trains stand at the gate.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Death of a poet: Marcel Van Maele

A great Flemish poet passed away July 24th. He was a non conformist, baroque and exuberant in his word-choice, a splendid drunk, a friend of my late husband. To honor Marcel Van Maele a poem translated into English and ok'd by him. His words and artwork will be remembered.

And when he spoke

And when he spoke
it was time and he thought
I'll celebrate the years with water and fire
stalk heaven and earth.

A handful of sounds,
muffled cries, mumbles
of Tartarians and barbarians,
comments of prophets.
Moldered gestures and ten fingers
to see.

Rumble of clouded tongues of fire and we
hardly awaiting our survival
hopefully sit on a dry limb while
the omnipotent magic man dances for rain.

With the crack of thunder all is stilled
a petrified salute
a frozen spring breeze.
The poplars standing there, stare
at the full moo, a green longing
covered with a sheen of seemingness.

Respect Marcel.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The pandemic

The flu is getting public attention in Belgium. This weekend one of the leading newspapers had a rather dismissive article about the flu: the measures taken by the communal authorities were ridiculed as over the top, the tone was ironic and the advise was not to make such a fuss about a little flu. They don't seem to be aware that it might be a mild strain now, but in Sweden the first case of the novel flu has been diagnosed and it does not react to Tamiflu. Also at the birthday party of a poet ( the one listing to the reading of his friends) the flu was a subject. Our host had made a poem titled 'The kiss', for those who dind't want to kiss or hug or shake hands, so that they would have a kiss anyway. Monday, in the same newspaper an oped was published stating that the stack of Tamiflu wouldn't help because it would be kept at the wrong temperature by most people and thus become inefficient. Last year the flu claimed 2000 lives in Belgium. Even at the 7 casualties per day with a period of lets say three month it means 600 people would die and then the regular seasonal flu still has to come. Moreover the virus can get 'evil' any day. Check facts at Coralcross and do join and play the game set up by a group of futurists. Be prepared!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quatorze Juillet

The 14th of July is the national holiday in France. Military parades, parachutists over Paris, landing just in front of the president and fireworks it is all part and parcel of the festivities. In the European "capital" Strasbourg the fireworks were quiet nice and drew a large international crowd, while people are sleeping rough to the beat of military bands... Heavy rainstorms and hail are expected tonight. The contrasts of life and how to reconcile and solve them.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

She went walking

The old lady just upped and left. In a blink of an eye. She went home, or so she thought when she got away. Through the brush and brambles, her legs bleeding from the sticks and stubs she went looking for what she left: her home of 35 plus years. Her man, barely younger than she, always kept her in his sight and still she wandered off out of an enclosed elegiac garden. He looked in the thickets, checked the bushes and brush. Phoned the police. Got in his car, went looking for her. Nowhere is the lady in her dress and and slippers to be seen. Then the call came: She was found wandering towards the busy main road. They took her to the hospital, cleaned her wounds, found out his name. Her's, she had forgotten. She was glad to see him, has no memory of her escapade. He was glad to see her: love reigns supreme.

Monday, July 6, 2009


From my window , while I sit and work, I can see attractions of the fair: the Ferris wheel, the wildest shakes, shoots, catapults, glides and rides, all lit up and flickering pleasure, happy times. Yet, seeing it from here without the deafening dystopian din is happiness enough for me. Although a Belgian Waffle with whipped creme could be a tantalizing temptation to brazenly brave the crazy crowd.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Broken in

The blue Safire in white gold, the only memento from my grandmother
The white gold Omega Tony bought in a sale, his last present to me
A golden pound my grandparents gave me at my communion.

A Mexican golden chain with the Madonna de Guadeloupe, Tony and I wore both,
Taken off for a bath and waiting to be put on again
My wedding ring from my first marriage

Two Tony rings one gold with a diamond: he called it a Rosicrucian ring
A gold artist made ring with jade and chips of emerald, which Tony added

A little golden ring with a triangle with diamond chip that is mine thanks to you Jim

My privacy, walking through my bathroom, bedroom, taking little gold rings, in Black Hills gold a tiny heart
and the small golden M, I was going to give to my daughter
my privacy
you invaded, desecrated

I find little empty box upon empty box, also in the other room
You took

You left
my memories, my good pen, my turquoise…

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Multilayered justice

A petit café with a view of the sumptuous, awe-inspiring and overpowering Palais de Justice. In the Appelate Court, there was a case involving two young men. First, the judge laid out the facts as they appear from the file, seemingly neutral. He also questioned the two youngsters. Then the lawyer for the victim (3 policemen) spoke, then the Public Prosecutor. Both painted a harsh picture of the facts. Then it was the turn of the two lawyers defending the handbagsnatcher and the cardriver. The layers of meaning, the nuance in facts, the illusive truth. It could be a judgement error, a one-off situation, an initiation, a mistake, an intentional act aiming to drive into the policemen, a non-violent theft and a botched get-away. The street it happened on is one of the grand Boulevards with greenery and with policemen guarding some embassies. I have been walking it twice a day for almost two weeks. I try to immagine it at night, alone, my bag being taken, would I peruse the thief like the lady did? The court retired. We'll never know wetther the non-violent handbag thief will have to go to jail for 24 month or will be liberated. We'll never know whether the driver was blinded by the roadblock and didn't see the policemen or wether he tried to flee and accidently hit one of them. What is the truth? How do we establish it? How then do we behave humanely towards all involved?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Death, God and Fun

Le Cimetière Père-Lachaise is a city for the death.

Two million people have been buried here for generations. What I learn and relearn is history matters. Roots seem to induce different thinking than the more nomadic among us do.

In this cemetery the lanes are as leafy as the boulevards in Paris proper. I saw some writers graves: Apollinaire, Proust. Missed Wilde, Piaff and Jim Morrisson...

I found however the Sacré Coeur on the Butte Montmartre. Seen it was the day of music averywhere in town small bands were performing and a good time was had by all.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Beauty and strength

Emile-Antone Bourdelle , architect and sculptor, was student of Rodin and teacher of Giacometti. His Atelier is to be found in the stables of Montparnasse when Montmartre got too expensive. He designed and decorated the 'Theatre des Champs Elysee", Place de l'Alma.

His pre-modern expressionist huge volumes made my hart tremble. The World War horror is well expressed in the screaming heads before Munch. Pain, strength and beauty overwhelming and uplifting.

Through a rainy Paris I ended up at the Trocadero where Anais Nin had an apartment. There international solidarity was
shown the indigenous peoples of Peru defending their land, the Amazon forest against greedy developers of palm groves destroying the forests and livelihood of the Indians. I added my voice: Un peuble unido jamas sara vencido.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Le Fouquet

Sipping a petit café in Le Fouquet in Paris watching the spenders, scam artists and beggars on the Champs Elysee I wonder what makes this country tick. Partly still the French Revolution, I guess. It started right there, from the chair of the President of the Assemblee Nationale, (AN).
Its goals are well know: freedom, egality and fraternity. This means no group has more say or rights, no previledges. It also means that all are free of arbitrary rule and that citizens are formed in public schools to be thinking free agents. The brotherhood is the solidarity needed to keep a society falling appart.
Good values, but you need to be elected in order to help govern the country, for that TV is essentials and French like beauty, so the A.N. has a place to beautify its representatives of the peopple. They also like pomp and circumstance. The President of the AN walks through the Garde while drums roar loudly. The symbolic meaning is that the army protects the representatives of the people. So I watch the high heeled and well heeled, sit and dream of these lofty ideals.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Writing in a world in crises

The empty chair is for the comedian Zargana convicted to 35 years in prison.

Writing in a world in crises is problematic. The freedom of expression is shackled by taboos about certain subjects. In Turkey those are: Kemal Atta Turk, Armenia, the Kurdish issue, political Islam and military in politics. If as a writer you even slightly approach one of these subjects in a way that is perceived to be critical of the official views you can end up up killed like Hrant Dink or in jail like Leyla Zalan.
The other part of the evening was dedicated to Palestinian writers. We know Mourid Barghouti, but who else. Can writers escape politics, I am afraid they cannot: they still need paper and pen, light at night and the safety to live and think in, food for their families and medical care.
There are 700 checkpoints and people cannot go to their fields or visit their family, there is hardly any water. The task of the Palestinian writers is Herculean: to create a new world while being powerless in an occupied country. Peace now, so that children, men and women and poetry can flourish.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Quiche and crumble at the WIPC

It is the time of year that the members of the Writers in Prison Committee are invited in summers garden of one of the members.
First the general meeting in Oslo of the Pen was discussed. That entails showing what WIPCs in other regions have done. A Scottish initiative is a board game about the freedom of expression. There are tendencies to exclude religious defamation from the Freedom of expression. One of the new projects is to go to secondary schools (high school) and speak after ample preparation of the students about the subject. Working interactively is smaller classes is an option and talking about one specific author and why what happened to him where could be another approach. After a while two guests of WIPC of the board of Pen joined us: Zeki Ergas, secretary general of Pen of 'Suisse Romande', (the French speaking Swiss) and active for the Writers for Peace Committee and the International Secretary Eugene Schoulgin, who witnessed many trials of accused writers. The food was delicious, the discussion nourishing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Social networks

For a long time a hesitated getting into social networks. I am still hesitant and a novice but have found a useful tool in it. You can share websites and links and help create a momentum for the better. Peace Action West with their citizens diplomats who went to Iraq to talk about peace with the Iraqi people made me realize I could share their works in a slightly wider circle, maybe reaching, informing some people who otherwise wouldn't know. So Tweet for revolution, be in peoples Facebook for peace, Plaxo for love and justice... Non-violence rules, the laptop is mightier than the Uzi!

Monday, June 8, 2009

From behind the scene

There have been European elections in the 27 member states of the European Union. In some countries that fact got snowed under by the results of the simultaneous local elections. Not here.
It is a joy to see election observers from the ACP countries' Pan African Parliament.

Cameras in place, interview spaces organized to tune into Europe, on
offer for the citizens and the networks were the results in pie charts, in bars or as rolling figures.

There was also a roving reporter who would grab anybody who was willing to speak to him... Thus camera men running, lugging their equipment around.

The hemicycle transformed to press room at one moment held almost 600 journalists to get these images to you. There were 36.000.000 first time voters between 18 and 23. 200.000.000 voters decided to vote with there feet and didn't show up. The global turnout was 43,49 %.
There is still a pro-European majority yet except for the Greens the progressive forces in Europe received a harsh beating. The stronghold of the right fringe (not in figures alas) is composed of populist, xenophobe and anti-Islam and anti-European forces. There some joy at the victory of the conservative European People's Party and a lot of sadness and pain among those who lost and kind of lost hope. Europe wakes up a less friendly place.
These are some the images you might have seen...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Views from the gardens

The Garden of Boboli (Giardino di Boboli) is the more formal of the two, maybe the work is grander: Orchards, Versailles like plantations, huge differences in elevation, buildings housing museums and water.

Of course the police keeps an eye on the place and horses are the only option here. So power to is turned into beauty: a dangerous combination!

The views of the city from the Giardino Bardini however are more stunning.

The garden in the foreground also is more intimate. It is a nice climb to get up there, but the reward is beauty. The prize is vision.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Street art

The streets of Firenze offer many fine views the first seems a spitting image of a dear friend.

Maybe these ice cream boys did the drawing near the home of Galileo

Maybe the boar who by the way is drooling with just drops of water dripping out of his mouth is here because of an old meet market or because the hunters gathered here.

Friday, May 29, 2009


The structures and statues in the park are a sign of respect. The half round building is dedicated to Galileo. It is a small observatory. 5Did you know that already in 600 BC people knew the earth was round and was circling around the sun?)

Here is Dante, with the Divina Comedia open on his lap on a page against the then rulers of Firenze who banished him forever from his beloved city.

Of course I read the Bell on top of the Pantheon as the bell of freedom.

Here you see a prime example of trompe oeil in the Pantheon. and the declaration of intent: no immages of tyrants.... only of those who brought hope for futere lives.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Romantic Parks

The park, part of the romantic park of the composer Puccini, is well kept. You'll find the large meadows, closed in or off by sweeps of trees. There are over 200 kinds of trees here and in a grouping there will usually be a red one to create more drama. The picture is of the lesser lake.

Wide spaces, water, statues and buildings are typical ingredients of this type of garden. The upright lion had been stolen and was replaced by a sleeping lion. This might represent the loss of influence of feudal patrilinear families.
The Fortezza is a Gothic building. The buxus is a later addition.

This small temple was dedicated to Tomaso Puccini. You recognize the temple as dedicated to Venus because of the pineapple on the top of the cupola. The beauty is stunning, the quiet of high quality. Every breath is nature, nurture and culture. History lives in these parks. And for those who can still read their environment it is a great teaching aid.