Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Lightnight poetry and music in RuhrKunstort

RuhrKunstort is an artist work place in the Ruhrort part of Duisburg. There is always something going on. The night of the winter solstice it was poetry and music: Fred Schywek, poet of the Lower Rhine read eleven poems some personal, one poem commemorating another poet. His poetry is strong, lyrical and idiosyncratic...

 Here are Fred and Ilona Vildebrand practicing a little tribute to Brel and the city Amsterdam. She read three poems and sang with verve several songs the audience enjoyed. The small place was packed with thirty some odd people. The audience was warm and inquisitive, talked to the poets, asked questions shared what they felt about the readings. I was astonished how many people from the former DDR (East-Germany) were there and felt it was necessary to tell a foreigner like me that that is where they came from. I guess it is necessary to understand the limitations they had and the peculiar education they had under a communist regime. I myself read some poems in English and Dutch and of course the German translation by Fred. People came up and discussed the native American quotes by MariJo Moore I had read. They were especially fascinated by the bear quote...
A nice pleasant evening, which brought light in the darkness.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Jubilee concert

 Twenty years ago a group of people founded the "Vrienden van het Concervatorium". So all of us were treated to a free concert to honor the occasion. Mendelson's Piano trio nr. 1 op. 49 in d Violin, cello, piano, 4 movements. Just wonderful. I love the darker tones of a cello, so I was happy.
After a nice speech by the chairman the second part was Psalm op. 42 - Wie der Hirsch schreit. The choir of the young students did a great job. I know I am partial to choirs and the harmony and strength of the human voice. There must have been about seventy singers and the young orchestra. I found it moving and fitting for this Christmas time. It brought joy and lightheartedness in the final dark day's of the year. Culture rounds the hard edges of daily life. Thanks to you all.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Nkosi Sikeleli Africa

When Madiba Nelson Mandela came to the European Parliament just a short while after his release from Robben Island, I happened to be part of the large team of interpreters working in the plenary meeting. I have always cherished that experience. The first year after South Africa had joined the ACP the meeting took place in Cape Town. And this is about the opening session...

Sikeleli Africa

At the first notes
just two white people jumped up
one with his left fist in the air
she with her hand on
her heart
All peoples standing
the light skinned
a few notes later –
The huge hall filled with

I like to think
the white people were
not recognizing the music in their
or just older and stiffer and

I like to think
Nkosi Sikeleli Africa
is the hope that touches us
all -           

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Once again sacred Hopi objects will be sold by a Paris auction house

Survival International, a NGO defending the rights of the First Nations will be back in court in order to try and stop a new sale of 25 Friends - No, they are not masks - they are living entities, used in sacred ceremonies. This time it is the auction house EVE offering for sale among other two highly esteemed Katsinam: the Crow Mother and the Friend used in the Snake Dance. These ceremonies are not open to the public since they are so sacred. The sale will be on December 9 and the friendly spirits are already on show. The sale will be once again in La Maison Drouot.The Hopi are a small nation in Arizona. Their ceremonies and religious dances are important to them. Some dances are public and then you can enjoy the beauty of it all. It saddens me that my friends once again are hurt by greed and lack of understanding. Some items have been shown in April by Minet-Neret.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The last performance of VENN: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

This is the last scene from the last performance of VENN. Yes I attended the performance again. I didn't know how I would react since the element of surprise would not be there. I must admit that I liked it even better than the first time, seeing more, recognizing some of the movements which touched me deeply. Also the music and voices went deeper into me. Seeing the intimacy of certain parts when a person becomes a shoe, a chair, a shower, a coat for the other. The violent scene when a woman gets beaten up without being touched really got under my skin at the second viewing. The waxing and waning of the gestures of a few dancers to the a full stage and the massiveness of the group movement was exhilarating, gave energy.
The gestures preceding the spoken word where beautiful and they contended that there was more communication with fingers and wrists and arms than when people started to speak... I must admire the students of the dance school of the Koninklijk Conservatorium in Antwerp. Some of them are just in their first year, others, with the heavier roles, are in their last year. So no the preparation starts for the final exam, which I hope to see as well. Art is balsam to the soul...
To all of you thanks.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui: Venn

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui will be awarded the title of Maestro Honoris Causa by the "Stichting Conservatorium Antwerp. The production Venn which some of us saw thanks to the vice president of said foundation just blew me away. It was moving, funny, spectacular, intimate, beyond beautiful, and splendidly danced by the young group of dancers. The music and voices were of the same quality. The harp and the percussion, the violin, alt-violin and cello where so right for the sublime choreography of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. The sober light effects and stage supported in every way the sometimes exuberant, sometimes overwhelming, sometimes funny or intimate scenes. I also fell for the silent and spoken parts where the gesture was before words came about. No pictures of this public try out,  yet the images I saw I won't forget. If you have a chance, go to one of the performances. You'll come out fulfilled and more complete. The dance dealt with a new interpretation of different themes from Foi, Origine and Orbo Novo. The energy on the scene is wonderful and gives so much to the audience that we can deal with the onset of winter. Iris Bouche has woven all the elements together in a grand performance of all.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day of the writers in prison

The action of PEN-Flanders for November 15th is creative and beautiful. The poem by Liu Xiaobo: You wait for me with dusts- a poem dedicated to his wife- has been split up in its thirty one lines. 31 Flemish authors have each read one of the lines: the famous and infamous, the revered and the up and coming, the young, the old, all in a great mix to do something useful for colleagues in prison all over the world.

The poem by Liu Xiaobo has two versions: one with English subtitles which you find here.
For the Dutch version only without subtitles click here.

Je wacht op mij met ’t stof

  - voor mijn vrouw, die elke dag wacht
                                                        door Liu Xiaobo

niets rest je in jouw naam, niets
dan op me te wachten, samen met het stof van ons thuis
al die lagen
bijeen, overlopend, in geen hoek        
wil je de overgordijnen open trekken
de roerloosheid van het licht verstoren     

boven de boekenplank is het met de hand
geschreven etiket verstoft
op het tapijt ademt het patroon het stof in
als je de pen graag een stofpunt wilt geven
wanneer je me een brief schrijft
worden mijn ogen door pijn gestoken

je zit daar de hele dag lang
durft niet te bewegen
uit angst dat je voetstappen het stof zullen vertrappen
je probeert je adem in te houden
en gebruikt de stilte om een verhaal te schrijven.
In ogenblikken als deze
is het verstikkende stof
de enige bondgenoot

jouw visie, adem en tijd
doordringen het stof
in de diepte van je ziel
wordt de tombe centimeter na centimeter
vanaf de voeten opgestapeld
komt tot aan de borst
staat tot aan de keel

jij weet dat de tombe
je beste rustplaats is
waar je op me wacht
zonder bron van angst of paniek
daarom verkies je stof
in het donker, in kalm verstikken
wachtend, wachtend op me
je wacht op me met stof
en weigert zon en werveling van lucht

laat het stof je maar helemaal begraven
laat jezelf maar inslapen in ’t stof
tot ik terugkom
en jij wakker wordt
en het stof afveegt van je huid en je ziel.

Een wonder – ontwaakt uit de dood.

April 9, 1999


Dutch Job Degenaar /Annmarie Sauer
WIPC Nederland/WIPC Vlaanderen
februari 2011
Friesland /Amberes  from the English translation:

Here at PEN, we believe that keeping Liu Xiaobo’s words alive is the best tribute to our imprisoned colleague.

You Wait for Me with Dust
for my wife, who waits every day

Nothing remains in your name, nothing
but to wait for me, together with the dust of our home
those layers
amassed, overflowing, in every corner
you’re unwilling to pull apart the curtains
and let the light disturb their stillness
over the bookshelf, the handwritten label is covered in dust
on the carpet the pattern inhales the dust
when you are writing a letter to me
and love that the nib’s tipped with dust
my eyes are stabbed with pain
you sit there all day long
not daring to move
for fear that your footsteps will trample the dust
you try to control your breathing
using silence to write a story.
At times like this
the suffocating dust
offers the only loyalty
your vision, breath and time
permeate the dust
in the depth of your soul
the tomb inch by inch is
piled up from the feet
reaching the chest
reaching the throat
you know that the tomb
is your best resting place
waiting for me there
with no source of fear or alarm
this is why you prefer dust
in the dark, in calm suffocation
waiting, waiting for me
you wait for me with dust
refusing the sunlight and movement of air
just let the dust bury you altogether
just let yourself fall asleep in the dust
until I return
and you come awake
wiping the dust from your skin and your soul.
What a miracle--back from the dead.
April 9, 1999

Translated by Zheng Danyi, Shirley Lee and Martin Alexander
- See more at: http://www.pen.org/you-wait-me-dust-worldwide-reading-liu-xiaobo#sthash.7KKJ1muG.dpuf

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The day of writers in Prison

So many writers are in prison for exercising their right of freedom of expression. Some are in solitary confinement, some have been tortured, some are not allowed to have contact with their family. Some do not receive the mail we write... Although the prison directors sometimes keep all the mail that arrives for such a prisoner of conscience. That special day, for all the PEN-centers in the world is tomorrow Friday November 15.
A poem by Enoh Meyomesse, a writer from Cameroon:

you visited me that day
and a black night without
without moonshine
without firefly without genesis
without anything
to cut with the machete
such as the one where my steps
were lost behind the
shed of the village
oh God of the sky
a night
   ink black
comes down on me
and you oh earth
    yes you oh earth
        you had stopped

First poem from his book: Poèmes Carceral
written in the prison of Kondengui

Leaving Las Vegas

Las Vegas
small and large
stuck in a chain link fence
around a plot of
brown and green glass
William Carlos Williams
thanks for taking
a walking

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Leaving Arizona

It is all this
the expanse of land
wild vastness working on the body
the winds of sand and storm
working on the soul
the water of a wilderness
swift silty screaming cold
and the shooting stars
above the sandy night
and silence and quiet

It is all this
when one is awakened
by the moon

It is all this
and the people
one holds
the poets
the foxes
the deer
the friends
the coyotes at night

It are the mountains and mines
the minds
and never mind

It is all this...
so free and so wild

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Leaving Chloride

to go to the other life
one has
brings melancholy
Saying goodbyes.
Hoping to meet again.
Closing up.
Switching off.
Feeling the sun
going to winter
There too friends
I hope to meet again.
There too a full life.
Yet leaving here
leaves bewildering
loss in my soul
there is no way back
if it
it is what I cannot
just trying to tell

Friday, November 1, 2013

Get out in the canoe

A light metal canoe
a river below the dam
walk it to water
paddle your arms
feel the current
against you
listen to the light
a bell like riffle
against the stern
lapping of water
light illuminates the deep
counting eight whiskers
channel cat barbels on
Ictalarus pinctatus

in the waning of the light
the dark mirror
barely reflects

no thoughts
no life
but night
and Friday evening

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Time for the Colorado river

No power
packing water coffee bait
long drive
Pierce Ferry roiling rapids
no camping no fishing
no parking no fires
no rangers
sleeping without a moon
under the stars
in sandstorm wind

It's all about leaving
running out of time
not knowing
was it dream time or
think time yet
fear of frailty
longing for water
the fluidity of joy
the adventure
the call of the
wild one
the one I was
I am

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Flagstaf and Route 66

With a friend
in a silver spiffy car
cruising route 66
Kingman Hackberry
where the apple pie was
when the two old ladies were
Peach Springs of the Hualapai
Seligman where I got breakfast
a couple of times
ate black eyed peas
on New Year's day in 1995
oh those icy roads
and now new to me Route 66
looping to Ashfork
stretches of walls in red lava rock
and the spacey silence
which will forever last                                      
then I 40 weaving to Williams
to Flag
old buildings old hippies
old books & new thoughts
and time in slower flow
autumn light
in peaceful glow

I met Jack in the Starrlight
and howling Allen
Collins and Simic
and De Bello Gallico printed by Plantin
in 1570 in Antwerp
where so soon I must return...

Monday, October 21, 2013

White Cliff Canyon

The first time

the first time I drove
through white cliff canyon
in tony’s cherry red and silver Z 220
then in my yellow Z 280
the Blazer red and white
the silver grey Huyandai
and several miscellaneous rental cars
I always saw this brown horse
head held high
beautiful and masculine
would say hello and wish him well
today in the rented Toyota Prius
the horse was no more

so him I cannot now show
my head hangs low

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Walking in the desert

When time is slow
the company good
you walk and talk
then laying down
on the outside couch
I smell the time of desert sand
opening my eyes
the mass of pinpricked stars
in my skies of blues
I name them Billie Holiday, Miss Ella and Aretha
in my darkest hues
eyes closed the reflection
of the sun in orange yellow glow
then in these silences 
tweets of birds
a far plane and someone’s plan
a car, a truck, a trick
and slight of hand
then swimming
in the desert glass and singing sand


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bake sale on Old Miners Day

At nine the women have set up
their last stand
have baked
now sell or as I
eat and share and buy
dress up on a dare collect
for the merry go round
in this town
for the vets in the cemetery
vaudeville play
community spirit
for a day
& foreign wars
cow girls
bad boys
and floozies
bikers on harleys
(yes I know the sound well)
in a way
all soiled doves with
pretty old cars

Friday, October 18, 2013

Silver Hill's blues

walking through the wash
past the cemetery
with bouldered graves
I am awash
with words
weaving and waging
in my mind
the impermanence
of time
of timeless laughs
in greetings and parting
Silver Hill
solid and symbol
of what comes and goes
old cowboys old miners
old cars old Indian wars
and one day
I awash
with words

Monday, October 14, 2013

Desert words

walking without talking
watch without time
Spanish daggers and
and soft singing sand
the crunch of a footstep
and flapping of wings
rabbit brush and rosemary
through chirps and tweets
hearing silence
sticks strait and twisted
sleeping snakes
from childhood nightmares
watching out for slithering
a fleeting movement of bees
beings and fleeing
in the sparseness of tracks on soil
around a solitary plant
desert words of burning sand

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mojave dessert


Sunday morning breakfast

window rattling wind
clang banging doors
clattering tin roof in rain
sand-drifting crevasses
all dust my home
desert lilies’ white stain
a jittery fix for cows and deer
as for folks meth & beer
war stories on Sunday mornings
of fallen heroes
at the VFW breakfast boasting
of classified unmarked secret
warfare & all alive to tell it
to the stranger that I am
and in this desert storm
I hear the sand grain wail

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sunrise in the desert

It has almost been a week since I am home again in the desert. The last guest left the place in total disequilibrium but three days later my place almost looks like I like it to look. Thus I walk in the morning, watch the changing of the light as the sun climbs up from behind the mountains and changes the world. My friends seem truly glad to have me back for a while and seamlessly I am reintegrated into the small community. So one buys too many goodies at the all town yard sale: delicious sinfully rich pecan squares, light upside down pineapple cake and moist scrumptious banana bread... It was good that unexpected guests showed up so that I could share. The desert holds its own secrets, its special charm: from the tracks in the sand to the tiniest lizard darting away and gratefully I heard the coyotes yesterday afternoon. Now I know I am home again. Till now I saw: Gamble quail, a doe and her young one probably from this spring, jack rabbits and rabbits. I spoke with the cactus wren and saw 18 buzzards sail over Silver Hill. All the friendly dogs got petted and like a fool in honor of my friend Cese I danced alone in the local restaurant bar... Cese this one is for you.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

With tanks to tents

Eye witness account about Gezi Park

We might remember the shocking images on TV about the demonstrations at Gezi Park inTaksim square in Istanbul. What we might not have realized is that also in Izmir and Ankara and the seaside resorts there were daily demonstrations for change, for more freedom, for a secular society. Basically it was a non-violent demonstration to protect ‘our’ lifestyle in Turkey, says Zeynep. Workers, students, intellectuals were in the street, on the square. Families with children stood there to show they want the park as a meeting point, protected the trees, stood for equality between men and women, the freedom to drink alcohol, against the forbidding of abortion. Men and women sat together on the benches in the park. Gezi Park became a focal point for those who claim the right to an individual life. Lawyers and the board of lawyers defended those who were arrested and accused. All places, cafés, bars opened their doors when protestors had to flee for the brutal police attacks, thus offering real protection to the protesters. Sexist slogans were erased and replaced by human slogans... people brought food and drinks to the square so that the protestors could stay. The sad statistic is: six young people died, eleven lost their eyesight through teargas, 1100 people are still suffering the consequences of the violence which wounded over 8.000 young people. The government never spoke about these brave young people but praised the way the police handled the squashing of the demonstration and protests. Journalist writing about it were sacked by their newspaper for reporting about Gezi Park. During the whole time TV aired documentaries about penguins ...
It was a spontaneous protest in defense of individual freedom. The protestors were not part of a political party but the protest was truly political.

Thank you Zeynep for your moving testimony!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

PEN- the last day

After taking care of the last bit of administrative things like voting for a new member of the board it was Mohamed Sharief from Haiti who managed to get a PEN-Center working  in one year and distributed over 30.000 book for school as reading aids. I was impressed by his presentation few days earlier and his solid hard work. So I was truly glad he made it. After the closing ceremony we all went to the Nordic House where I listened to a discussion with Douglas Coupland about freedom of expression. The Nordic House is beautiful and a great example of Alto's style. Later we walked to a reception with the mayor of Reykjavik. He is funny and smart and he also want to prohibit military planes landing on the Reykjavik  airport. He works on long time peace issues and I would love to have him as a mayor in my own town, where his kind of progressiveness is hard to find.

Words go their own way... Das Wort geht eigene Wege/Het wooord gaat eigen wegen

 Salon 12b invited a bunch af friends and people who love poetry for the presentation of a translation into German of a book by Annie Reniers: Het woord gaat eiegen wegen/Das Wort geht eigene Wege, published by world internet books. It is the first book in the wib classic series. The original Dutch book was published in 1981. Both poet translator read the section 'Japanese suite', having both been to Japan in the past, Fred Schywek knew what she meant in writing this section. Annie Reniers is a philosopher, and was professor in Esthetics at the Brussels University( VUB) and a well known poet.
As you can see all listened attentively. The reading in some solemn cadences and thoughtful phrazing was highly appreciated also by people who were not used to listen to rather abstract poetry.
 Some who could judge the quality of the German translation, praised it highly. Of course a salon  implies that at the end there is an open mike: Frank De Vos read, Fred Schywek, German author, read some of his own poetry, Silent Bear, Anne C. read a moving letter to Annie and also two poems in German remembering Reiner Kunze's eightieths birthday. Even I read a few poems...

There was cake and apple pie, deviled eggs and chicken and of course wine and cava and non alcoholic drinks...
Every body seemed to go home happy.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

PEN-Resolutions - action and young writers

 The morning was passed in voting for the new board members and the resolutions about situations in too many countries that have to change.

The resolution about Belarus was one of them. The Russian embassy is at walking distance of the Harpa, where we work all week. So the resolution was brought to them and given to the ambassador.  A short, but effective action which gave us a bit of fresh air.

The New Voices Award is a prize for young writers who read for us and the jury telling us why they were part of the short list. We listened to the reading s of these young, new, promising writers and I did admire the diversity: One from Mexico, one from South Africa and one from Canada. All three wrote about there own place, grounded in their different realities. After  we had a talk about 'Languages with few speakers', never say a 'small language': if you can translate Shakespeare in it a language is rich and not small...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pen-Congress day two in Reykjavik

 Most people know the tedious necessity of plenary meetings when one's organization has to take care of internal affairs. Yes it was long, but not boring. PEN, thanks to a generous donor, has been able to professionalize and has attracted some brilliant, really motivated young people with various skills and expertises. Sadly many members passed away and they were honored and fondly remembered. The professional way of working sees to it that the Universal periodic Review of Countries at the UN is fed with all the information PEN has about these countries and it really makes a difference and yes, sometimes it gets ugly then at the UN...

Since finances are always a problem for the PEN centers an impromptu meeting was held by the 'European Network' to exchange ideas about fund raising. David Van Reybrouck, our President of PEN- Flanders and born organizer, lead the meeting in an open, easy way by asking some of the relevant questions and  seeing to it that every one who wanted to contribute something to the discussion could do so...

And this wonderful sight to walk into after the meeting, washes away our fatigue. Sometimes the sky is gray and filled with drizzle seemingly just folding into the ocean.

And yes, freedom of expression is challenged on the Internet. We know our mails have been read. Maybe it is an education for those who have that job. Yet it also means we have to protect the whistle-blowers... they are our only access to the truth. Did you know that Americans can challenge their government for invading their privacy and for being spied on, but that foreigners cannot?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

PEN in Reykjavik day one

 Reykjavik is a good place with a pleasant atmosphere and good energy. The building 'Harpa' in which we work is a spectacular colossus of metal, glass and concrete. Does that sound awful? The building is great, it clothes  a person, shelters, does not make one feel small, it feeds the soul.The first meeting was for the Writers in Prison Committee and thus confidential. We listened to cases of authors and discussed how to campaign. The view from the room was pleasant, clouds on an island in the distance, boats in the harbor. It was also an occasion to meet people again whom i had met in Krakow earlier this year.
We also reflected on the definition of 'writer', in other words are it just the authors, journalists, bloggers and publishers or do we need to include the whistle blowers who leak the secrets the general public should know. The real battle is about information.
I learned how the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) at the United Nations works and the role PEN is playing in this process. 
The campaign against impunity targets countries where journalists and authors are tortured and killed. It is worst in Honduras, where 30 journalists where killed since 2009, after the coup. Mexico and Brazil sadly also have a bad record. (Football fans beware!) And we know about Russia after the Punk prayer in the Cathedral... China's record is pretty bad. Yet the USA in persecuting Bradley Manning when she leaked the CIA secrets only wanted to expose the war crimes of the US. American citizens can challenge the government when it spies on them but non-Americans can't. It is all about Freedom of Speech: without that no creativity but fear and self-censorship and without literature no freedom of speech.
The dinner and the speeches were fantastic... What a fulfilling day!

Monday, September 9, 2013

PEN International Congress in Iceland

It was a long trip to Iceland yesterday and changing time zones is always a bit weird. We got there safe and sound. First impression: Reykjavik looks like a playhouse town for little girls: clean, fresh, pastel tints... Really pleasant  even in the drizzle. The harbor isn't far away from the Villa, a basic but pleasant kind of Bed without Breakfast. Being hungry upon arrival last night since we got no food one can call food on the long flight, we had a nice stroll from place to place to find a kitchen that was still open. We saw a party, heard life music, happened on a Jazz Café and ate at a Moroccan place, the only one open and very good. The owner, an interesting smart man, had come to Iceland seven years ago and told us that Spanish people now come to Iceland and ask to work for him.  Europe is in a sad state of affairs. It was a tiring day, but in ways it also was a splendid day. Soon the PEN meetings will start. Good morning all of you.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Africa VII - South Africa

The beauty and the contrasts. Table Mountain and Robben Island. The Market and the promenade along the sea...  Cape Town and its townships. And of course I was there for work. All the participants of the ACP meeting were invited to a guided tour of Robben Island, by the former minister of the Interior under the first Mandela government. He had also during a long time been in the adjacent cell of Mandela. He spoke about how the boycott of African goods and fruit helped them. they felt sustained by our solidarity. The General Assembly was openened as Usual by the National Anthem and this is what happened.

Sikeleli Africa

 At the first notes
just two white people jumped up
one with his left fist in the air
she with her hand on
her heart
All peoples standing
the light skinned
a few notes later –
The huge hall filled with

I like to think
the white people were
not recognizing the music in their
or just older and stiffer and

I like to think
Nkosi Sikeleli Africa
is the hope that touches us
all -     

We received a lunch packet after the guided tour of Robben Island of course it included a South African  apple. Eating it on Robben Island stirred up memories of solidarity and touched my soul.      

Friday, August 23, 2013

Unraveling the spreading cloth of time

Indigenous Thoughts Concerning The Universe

Basically the premise of this book is that the Native American nations knew all along about quantum mechanics and interconnectedness. The Universe is a living entity with which/whom we can interact through ceremony. It is not there externally as an object to be studied, but we are part of its dynamic web. Life is flux and change... and  the subject makes for exiting writing.

The books starts with a quote by Vine Deloria Jr. which I offer here: All the tribes say the universe is just the product of mind... It fits perfectly with the quantum. Indians believe the universe is mind, but they explore the spiritual end of  it, not the physical end.

We are destroying our world by the “uncontrolled fires of excess” writes Lela Northcross Wakely. We need to cleanse and burn away the old underbrush and the ground of our heart will be purified and open for healthier thoughts. Giving thanks is a good practice. It keeps us grounded and open. Do it every day... Kim Shuck writes about the Milky Way containing ethyl formate, the taste of raspberries and black holes which sing in B flat...  This makes me realize how wondrous and strange our world is, where we expect things to be solid, but know that basically they are not...

There are creation stories, personal accounts of life and great poetry. There is connectedness to the land and travel and that all is as it should be. And sometimes we stumble upon a special place. They can be sacred, historic, they can be a migration route of the Hopi with a hurry star on the face of a rock. The book is wise in old words en new words in reinventing the language in poetry and songs.

I must thank MariJo Moore for her own writings and for realizing this important anthology.
You can order the book from MariJo Moore
Website: Marijomoore.com
001-828 545 1365

I sit on the couch and read
because the couch agrees
to let me sit
to keep its structure
solid together for my sitting
while I fall apart

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Genocide of the mind

New native American Writing
This book is a must read for people who want to hear authentic voices reflecting about the contemporary position of Native Americans in the USA. It is still a sad state of affairs, yet it is also a book that will give strength by the examples these authors give in their conduct and their writing. The book is edited by MariJo Moore and has a foreword by Vine Deloria, Jr. Thirty four authors, some I knew and admired already and many authors new to me, writing with a depth and honesty and humor and also with anger. The words are being revolutionized. David Seals message was serious, yet I smiled because of the mastery of the language. Leonard Peltier is mentioned a few times in the book. It was a joy to discover poems by Maurice Kenny, poems I didn’t know. Vine Deloria, Jr reminds us that the villages always are the center of ceremony and that the people living in town live among the representation of the values of the dominant culture. The book offers us a collective memory of these authors. I was moved by the description of the feeling of leading a discontinuous life, the sense of not belonging. I also admire the essay by Paula Gunn Allen. She seems to suggest that openness and honesty will help to explore the similarities and differences in perceiving the world. Lesly Marmon Silko, another favorite author of mine, reminds us that identity is always in flux. Wonderful to see it stated this way. The book consists of five chapters: One: Keeping the home fires burning in urban circles. Two: Young American Indians: The need to reclaim identity. Three: Native Languages: Where will they go from here? Four: Indians as mascots: An issue to be resolved. Five: Who we are, Who we are not: Memories, misconceptions, and modifications.
I do apologize for not mentioning each and every one of the authors. They are discoveries and I’ll watch out for more of their work.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Africa VI Namibia-Windhoek

Namibia was difficult for me. In Windhoek I got robbed of all my money and everything they could use. That is except my Native American medicine bag filled with herbs and small pebbles and a dollar. Even that one dollar bill they didn't take. The person who took my stuff did recognize it for what it was: strong medicine not to be tampered with, yet not strong enough to leave the rest of my stuff alone. But that certainly wasn't the main reason to feel strange in that country. It were the high walls around the houses with barbed wire on top. It was the potato salad, the arrogance of the English policemen: talking to an old man who spoke South African and I spoke Flemish (Dutch) with him, a policeman wanted to chase him away, assuming the man was bothering me. We just talked about life and how bad it sometimes is, how beautiful it sometimes is. The encounter with the old man grounded me, made me feel good in that strange country. I hope our conversation did the same for him. The mayor of Windhoek invited the whole group to a cultural event: He was blond, blue eyed, wore a thick golden chain and in a Las Vegas style 'jungle bar' we were treated to soft pop of the sixties... Diamonds rough and cut were everywhere. No I didn't buy any, nor smuggle anything. I did buy a dress two toned green and I still wear it once in a while on a hot summer's day. Also a balsa wood tiger I dragged along, bought from the local artisans. I learned that real human contact is what counts, even if the fences are high. I am also pleased to learn that the old colonial names are changed over to the tribal names for cities and regions, mainly in the Zambezi region. So maybe it is time to really visit Namibia now.