Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Fatena in the Lazarus chappel in Rumst

After a brief introduction about Pen-Flanders and what we do in defending freedom of expression and authors world wide who get into trouble for their writing and for refugee authors like Fatena and many others. It is quite a feat for a poet who is a refugee from Palestine to do a reading. It involuntarily turns into a haunting reading in Arabic and whomever is accompanying her reading the real fine Dutch translation of her work. Yet people see her Palestinian scarf and soon the questions become political: The ancient writings as the Bible and the Koran are invoked. (yes the capitals matter in this case). One speaks about the destruction in the Gaza strip, the family living in the same house, because so many houses have been bombed to smithereens... Interesting is that when Fatena is in Palestine, she feels not death around her but life, people carrying on the best they can, children playing in the rubble and new life coming into this world. So the will to survive is stronger in the volatile situation in Gaza than in Flanders, yet she thinks more about death when here... Was it a gloomy morning in the wonderful Lazarus chapel? Not at all! People listened to her even not understanding a word, were captivated by the beauty of the sound, understanding the content only when read in Dutch. Having just heard how she read the particular poem, which stanzas were loud and fiery and which one quiet and plaintive, I could kind of follow in her footsteps. The discussion went on after the the time was up, with a warm kindness, a glass and some nibbles and questions and opinions flew around in a real meeting of the spirits. Again, an inter cultural encounter, with widely differing opinions, some being pro Jewish, others more differentiated in the way they expressed their questions or worries. The appreciation for having learned something new and  having heard beautiful poetry was the prevailing mood.

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