Friday, December 28, 2012


Gierik is a Flemish publication. It started in 1983 and in the second issue I had four poems: two in English and two in Dutch. I had forgotten all about that until I was invited to read in Antwerp with seven other Gierik poets on poetry day next  January 31st. I knew the people involved in it were in the process of digitalizing the complete poetry archive and felt obliged to look at it and to choose a few poems I would then read. My poems have been published 19 times; however I also wrote articles for them, did interviews with authors I wouldn't have dared to approach, translated Native American poetry, wrote about 'Guilt and Grace' as in a cowboy's philosophy... Those other writings have not been digitalized yet. It is strange to encounter my twenty years younger self, to realize that even then I wrote in Dutch and in English, although not having been raised in the USA. I had this fascination for whom I would have become, had my mother stayed in Ohio... Thus I read American authors, followed American politics and became a flower power child in my own right. I learned to belong wherever I was... The distance to my origins have been sometimes a bitter blessing, yet for which I am thoroughly grateful. I too am grateful for the 'home' poetry in all its guises has offered me over all these years.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The unacceptable

Racism, war, molesting little girls or boys, exploitation of another person, poverty, ruining the planet, Leonard Peltier still in jail, capital punishment... all unacceptable. Our feelings wake up. And I realize that all of this has to do with our values and the judgments based on these values. Yet there is also the unacceptable within myself: traits I don’t like, anger I don’t  want to feel, the dark shadow shrouding my soul, my very private hurts, shortcomings, my darker hidden self which stems from hurt... In the Western world these values are more or less shared  yet abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriage is not accepted in all layers of western population or even illegal in some countries. The more issues are seen as unacceptable, the greater intolerance will become within any given society or political system and thus opposing groups will form. Often the questioning of these shared values will not be tolerated because these values lend an illusionary sense of security. Thus authoritarian attitudes and routine dictate the course of life, suffocating creativity, change, innovation and even our freedom of expression. And still, with all the rules that should be followed, it are always the girls and women who should be decent, less ambitious, not too loud, not too much make up... Actually they are often not allowed to dream or follow their dreams. When young children are killed, we, as a world community know, we feel that this is unacceptable, we grieve with the parents and have to think about how our society functions. Assault weapons are to me unacceptable in the hands of any civilian. Thou shall not kill! Now I have a lot of friends with revolvers, guns, rifles, even uzi’s... I don’t understand the need, nor the fascination of it. I also think of Gaza, of Syria, of  my sister in law’s sun wounded severely in Iraq training paramedics... How many lives lost, maimed. To me violence is unacceptable in whatever guise. Peace on earth always means no war! The light returns... A happy, peaceful New Year to all.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Reel Molenbeek Futures

'Reel' stands for being filmed and is not a spelling mistake, filmed by Bram Goots, professional camera man and the interviews are by Maya Van Leemput. Of course a professional sound and a real editing process. It is in the editing process that the story is told. Maya and Bram conducted this type of gathering images of the future already in 25 counties, listening, enticing, conducting workshops, what ever it took to make people think about a longer term future. The end result of this documentary is an interesting mix of the ideas of three men and two women, plus a few people interviewed on the canal in a boat. They tried to imagine where they would be at in their commune 'Molenbeek', one of the 19 districts of Brussels, in their private life, how it would be to age 18 years... The film was moving through the words and actions of the five interviewees: One young girl claimed the right to decide whom and if she would marry: I am not obliged to get married, I am not obliged to have children. I will decide. Beautiful to see a splendid young woman so unafraid of assuming responsibility over her own life. There was a cultural worker who likes to work in that field, and wants more responsibility. He let himself be aged by a make-up artist and thought he looked sixty years old. He pleaded, actually all participants in the documentary did, for more cooperation, more solidarity, more human contact. Technology didn't seem to be important 'If I have a flying car, then that still doesn't me me a superhero', he said. One man, the oldest, has done magnificent work with youngsters, having them look at the stain glass windows of John The Baptist church and then have them make something abstract which is mounted in a public space in one line with the original stain glass windows. The man himself paints beautiful abstract paintings. Upon retirement he'll go back to his small town in Morocco, because there are enough artists here, but there they lack artists. He explained that every year he takes a different class in one or other art technique, this year animation film and video... He paints abstract paintings since that doesn't offend any religion, encompasses all humans, refers to Klee, Kandinsky and Mondriaan. The second woman was kind and gentle, gave her words some thought before speaking. They are new to the quarter and love its mix of people and cultures. Warm hearted. She spoke about the communal gardens in the city and how those bring people together in social and ecological project. Then there was Gustavo, black Brazilian, the only one speaking Dutch really rather well. The whole film was subtitled either in Dutch or in French. A necessity in Brussels. The beauty of his movements with his head while thinking, the fervor with which he spoke about integration and that we are all somebody's racist... Yet hopeful, yes one of his hopes is that that in the future people will be less afraid of each other. 
I was impressed by warmth and positivity of the stories shown. Yes!!! Good people, good thoughts, a great documentary.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Futures (yes, plural!)

Maya Van Leemput is a futures researcher who got her PhD 10 years ago and since then has been collecting with her partner Bram Goots (Camera and DoP) images of the future people hold. Their latest project is in Molenbeek in Brussels commissioned by ‘The House of Cultures’ of St Johns-Molenbeek. They interviewed and filmed about 30 people. Next Friday, December 21, the day the world is predicted to end, she is showing the film ‘Reel Molenbeek Futures’, starting at  8pm. Why plural? Well there are no future facts, are there? So there is not only one possible future, but many possible futures that we co-create by our action, non-action, by what we can imagine, by how we would like those futures to be. For that you need clear images, maybe even universal values... As one of her futurist friends said: With fuzzy images of the future, you get a fuzzy future. Think about it, if you see clearly what you would like in let’s say 18 years, then you can do things to make it happen. If you have never thought about it, the film might just help you realize it is a fun and useful exercise in our life to think and dream and discover our expectations about our different possible futures.
Address & time:
8 PM
House of Cultures and Social Cohesion:
Chaussee de/Steenweg op Merchtem 67
1080- Sint –Jans- Molenbeek- Saint-Jean

You're all invited... French or Dutch subtitles...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Zygomatik: Piet Verbist in quintet

The zygomaticus major is the muscle in your face from kind of your temple to your mouth. The zygomaticus minor is the one going to  the lower part of your face: together they make all expressions. So actually Zygomatik is a great name for a very expressive Jazz cd. Piet Verbist is the leader of the group, performing on Sunday morning as a quintet. Words that come up while thinking of the concert are:
unpretentious high quality
jazz funk
Above and Beyond brings the fragility of bow on strings, from lust to lost, the drums gather and accent the delicacy of the quintet. Their names: Herman Pardon on the drums, Bram Weyters piano, Vincent Brijs and Matt Renzi (San Francisco) bass and tenor sax...
The 4th piece had a genteel start, hands on drum, almost oriental, in a beautifully structured time and improvisation and thereafter we fall into Piet's magnificent: PMS Alert! read: Piet's Manic Scream Alert! Belief me it was like a rush, soft and wild in the discipline of a musical structure. Great stuff!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Friday night in Brussels

Rain, wind and darkness, dangerous driving by tired lorries swerving out of their lane and the expected standstill on the roads into Brussels. One of the tunnels into town was closed off because of a European Summit meeting. Yet following the signs for the detours, I ended up in the tunnel and got well in time to the salons of the Liaison Office Brussels-European Union where the reading was to be held. The languages used that evening where: French, English, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish - in the Chilean variety which I love, Dutch, German, Alsatian, Romanian and Greek (both old and new). It was lovely to listen to the former or still active ‘Eurocrats’ who all defended their creative irk against or not withstanding hard work and a no-nonsense atmosphere when at work. The poems were always read first in its original language and then in a translation. Some people also sculpt or paint, or do graphics, make  music. The singer, Hugo Bossut, we were sorry to hear, was ill, some people, seen the chaos on the road didn’t make it. Yet there was a good group of excellent listeners. I had been involved with the Literary circle over 20 years ago and then lapsed. Finding in a publication a poem by Huguette Bastin, who was my contact then, I decided to contact her. Thus I ended  up as the mystery guest at the end of an evening. Huguette did a wonderful job introducing her colleagues, keeping time gently. The way she presented and interviewed me was delightful. She read the Dutch versions of my poems and I read them in my variety of Mid-Atlantic English: too European for Chloride, Arizona, too American for sensitive British ears. People were generous with kind comments and some even bought Traces/Sporen, published by So it turned out to be a happy evening with light refreshments afterwards and conversations with interesting people.
My colleagues that evening were: Danial Guggenbühl, Catherine Koecks and Archie Clarke, Frederique Frahan-Dupont and Bruno Delmotte, Joqé Ponce Vicencio, Andrei-Paul Corescu, Paolo Pego, Fontini, Chiou, Isabelle Bielecki and Huguette Bastin. The second name always is the one having done or reading the translations.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

poetry in translation and life - Live

During the last week I have been translating poetry by Rose Vandewalle., by Sinzo Aanza., proofreading a Dutch - German translation by Annie Reniers, so keeping  up the blog was on the back burner. Too many words, too many languages, all the layers of meaning and the possibilities.... Yet tomorrow in Brussels I will be closing a European poetry reading. The theme is multi-linguism. All poets will be reading in their own language and some will also read translations. Since in Traces/Sporen, produced by world-internet-books. I wrote part of the poetry in Dutch and part in English the organizer wanted to talk about about writing in two languages. The interview at the start will be in French, she will read the Dutch poems she has chosen from the book and I will read in English. It is exciting and I look forward to this evening. I am curious about the other poets, the other languages and how the atmosphere will be. The reading starts at 7 30 pm: Oudergemlaan 63, 1040 Brussels (Bureau de Liaison Europe-Brussels, Belgium).  May be we'll meet there.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Snow - and refugee camps on the Syrian borders

The first minuscule snow flakes made me smile, hid the church-towers in the distance like a fine fog. Then the flakes grew bigger and I saw the roof tiles getting fluffy edges and the flat roofs turning white. It quietens the city. Time to think and meditate. I have seen pictures of the official Syrian refugee camps in Turkey. In this horrible war cluster bombs are being used in the cities. It is a known fact that those kill mainly children rummaging among the debris of their homes. So families flee with their children and their elders and end up in the no-mans-land between the Turkish and the Syrian border. These people have nothing. Turkey is nice and warm in summer but now there is a harsh winter too. Blankets, sleeping bags, tents is the minimum a family need to protect itself from the elements. The Pen Writers in Prison Committee still received messages about human rights violations in the beginning of the destruction of the country. Now since months and months nothing came through. It is also a shame how cities on the United Nations list of cultural heritage of the world are bombed to smithereens, regardless of the inhabitants. I know people looking for a way to help, to make a difference, if they found a way. I'll let you all know. It is a humanitarian emergency.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Broomstick Revolution

Grandma Edna tells us:
“WE NEED CHANGES in this world,
really big BIG changes.
I’m prayin’ they’ll be peaceable changes,
not violent and bloody ones.
I’d like to see a peaceable revolution,
a revolution of broomsticks instead o’ guns.
Call it a Broomstick Revolution.
That’s right.
We the People—
pick up our broomsticks
and work together to Sweep Injustice Out!
YOU CAN’T JOIN the Broomstick Revolution.
You’re already PART of it
if you believe in peace and Mother Earth
and respect for all living things.
The Broomstick Revolution is NOT an organization.
The Broomstick Revolution is inside of each of us,
in every beating heart of humankind,
a sacred place where we listen to the Creator
and follow Creator’s Instructions
to sweep out injustice and violence.
NEVER raise a broom in violence.
Your broomstick is a symbol of PEACE.
Peace is our purpose.
Peace is our method.
Peace is our philosophy.
Peace is our Goal.
painted on the broom-heads.
Then plant’m like FLOWERS OF PEACE
in your front yards, on streetcorners,
in front o’ stores and schools and churches and banks.
Plant’m by the millions. When they rip’ m out, plant’m again!
Ain’t no end to how many agains there can be!
Love all people, even--especially--your 'enemies'.
We want to save the world, not destroy it.
Let everyone—even the One Percent—be included!
Some advice: Stay out of big crowds
that are easily turned into mobs.
They’re waitin’ for mobs.
Work alone or in small groups,
groups of Leaders.
There are no followers
in the Broomstick Revolution.