Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The dark days before Christmass

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, so from now on the days will lengthen and the darkness less long. Not just winter has started, but also the sickness of my stepfather holds him in the hospital. He has lost a lot of weight and he has no strength. My daughter is looking for a good place for him nearer to where she lives and this is definitely also nearer to where I live. He is now in the geriatric section of Saint Jozef Hospital in Malle. I totally agree with my daughter's initiatives she is taking for him. He would have more often a visitor, which I hope he would like.
Obviously he is weak. It must be hard to be so sick in the most festive time of the year. He has a room now without a second person in the second bed.  What bothers me is that the clock which is in the room has been on 20 past 3 since days. I think he would appreciate to see the time pass and not just see it standing still.
The care is good and the nurses post is right across from his room, that is reassuring. So we must do what needs to be done.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Roselyn, Master quilter

I often walk to Roselyn's place, filled with magnificent quilts: whimsical, bold, classic and free. The quilts she has made are of extraordinary quality. In design, in color. from one centimeter narrow pieces sown together to blocks of color. She also has done a quilt with grandmothers on motorcycles, quilts with an almost native American feel. She is a wonderful person, reads the New Yorker, loves Jazz, is kind and warm. Her home is cozy and warm, pleasant with books and CD's. Her son and grandchildren live nearby. They shop for groceries together since the nearest supermarket is 24 miles away. She is loyal to whom she is and that is wonderful!
My chip is full, so no pictures of the quilts for now....

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

For Tommy

There once was a little girl who heard a little boy cry. She didn't know why he cried, maybe there wasn't enough milk for both of them... And in time the little girl forgot the other voice.

Her mother never told her about that other voice. So she didn't know. Thus it didn't exist, thus she did not miss it. But then the other voice called out. He knew about her and longed to find her to be reunited with the older sister... The mother who adopted him had mentioned her.

Tommy has become a thoughtful man, who works through gentleness...

So a circle closes.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Indian Summer turned into cold nights with high winds

The nice Indian Summer is coming to an end. The weather is getting cold. People bundle up. Scarfs come out of the closet. Yet a long walk walk in the beautiful desert  still enchants. Doggy Dog could even be loose since there were no Coyotes nor snakes around.

Sadly my dear friends Cooper and Irene are leaving tomorrow morning and we probably wont see each other again  before more than a year is over. I hope all their plans come together that they find the people they need to be around and enjoy art and creativity. So maybe I can then go to New Mexico and stay for while in their new surroundings...

It is cold now: four blankets and a small dog kind of keeps me warm...

Living in two places makes the loss of people double. Some are really sick, others are really old. Some go on not withstanding. Others not so much. I guess I am a forever city girl longing for the desert beauty around here. Arrivals and leavings all is part of life and the excitement of living.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Indian Summer

The Indian Summer in Chloride is coming to an end. I have had an almost five week stretch of really nice weather. Yet now with high, cold winds I had to put an extra blanket on the bed. Luckily Doggy Dog is like a small hot water bottle... This means it is too cold for morning coffee with the guys. They talk about their projects, make fun and all bring their dogs. Thus D.D. follows John and Nadine's dog Otis around. The first time she saw him, she started following him. I guess it was love at first sight. If it stays cold, from tomorrow on we'll probably move into the Yesterday's. The guys may be tougher than I, but they don't like the harsh blowing wind too much.

I must thank a few people like Cooper and Irene for putting up with me, sharing time with me. I wish them luck on their adventures in New Mexico, and hope everything works out for them with the co-housing project, which certainly would be a good thing for two aging, very creative people. Yesterday they hosted a drumming circle! Fun and bringing together the drummers. Also Nadine, with whom I spend a nice morning and part of the afternoon in Kingman.

And Lauri, who is ebullient and fun. She and her husband have traveled a lot, lived for a while in Saudi Araby. I know people who were born in Chloride and have never been abroad. One of them is Leanne who is kind and sweet. And there is Lucette, she is from France but has made her home right next to the acres and acres of BLM land.

I have a sweet spot also for Roselyn who is a gifted quilter. When back home I'll try to find a small good sewing machine and try again to make a larger quilt. Looking at her work inspires me.

There is also Dale, who is not well and whom may not be around next year... What ever it will be, it will have been his own choice.

So many goodbyes... Some maybe definitive.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Leonard Cohen died yestderday

Chloride isn't giving me the essential nourishment that I need. So I scribble and write and hope to be productive and writing strong stuff.

Here, there is no Chelsea Hotel, but that isn't a good way of saying good bye to a place that has once nourished my soul. I seem not to find the free associations, or ironic language, the message strongly blending the self and introspection and the near profane, near liturgy of writing. Here near the ROUTE 66 I go on - but inspiration has been slow and low.

Here I live of the gift of friendship of many people here, the glimpses of their lives and the insight it provides. The good and the not so good and the courage to search out new shores or mountains. I see it in Nadine, in Coop and Irene and so I become a passenger of lives.

Sometimes I like life to be a bit more simple, without it becoming a boring life. So I'll be wearing just a little blue raincoat in the darkness of Leonard Cohen:

Fairwell Leonard Cohen
It is darker now!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Election blues

Sadly the election wasn't blue but turned out to be red, and yes Arizona is a red state. Watching the results coming at C 's & I's place each one of us wearing a blue dot made it not less hard to see how Trump would be winning. After I went home to the gas station I kept the radio on the whole night and heard the troubling news that he indeed would be the next president. Chloride itself is also red and there are not enough democrats to reach a sensible balance. I hoped the glass ceiling would be shattered, but it seems we have to be patient for a couple of years more, before that happens. So we pussyfoot our comments and hope for the best.

I did see and like Hillary's concession speech and also Obama's thoughtful address to the nation. He is still a great president for the next four month's and then it will be Trump all the way for four years and then maybe four more years...

It is a sad day, but the people have spoken. White men afraid of change have spoken.

Never he will be my president.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Chloride autumn

It is lonely in Chloride. My friends Cooper and Irene are leaving soon for New Mexico. I will miss them just as I miss Nadine when she is up in Phoenix. Of course there still is the morning coffee and a few other people I  know well and enjoy being around. But with the cafés closed it is hard to find food one doesn't have to prepare oneself. Tomorrow 20 past 9,  Coop and I go into town for supplies. I think I'll be able to survive. I am also thinking about the end of my stay here with Doggy Dog. So I am here to the end of the month and need to make sure I keep entertained. My place is cleaned up, I have painted  the windows and doors of the gas station and even started on the back house windows and door and the porch. Maybe tomorrow I'll start working after the shopping spree in Kingman. 29 of November I'll sleep in Las Vegas on Tropicana avenue. I have an early flight so an early wake up call will be necessary. But I am looking for a few adventures before then.

My brother's visit

Tommy, the brother I didn't know I had came to visit me in Chloride, Arizona with his two wonderful daughters. He is a thoughtful man, smart and generous. He knew I existed and has been looking for me for years... It is strange to be of the same DNA and to be different because of growing up on different situations. We both in our rather different circumstances turned out all right. He brought a flash drive with the whole family tree dating back to the 15th century.

Since I didn't know he existed, I didn't miss him. But he knew of me. So he kind of has missed me all that time since he knew of me. We had a few nice days together, driving to Hualapai mountain where we had a light lunch and enjoyed the beautiful landscape. We were at a farmers market and saw the old town Kingman. We talked and listened. It was overwhelming but in a good way. And we rounded off the visit in the Damn bar steakhouse, the most cowboy place around with good and delicious food. The girls choose Nacho's brother and sister had steak!

 Since then we have spoken on the phone slowly getting used to hear each others voice.
Gratitude is in order.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Morning Coffee

A bunch of guys who have known each other for a long time gather for morning coffee. The talk and banter is lively and they speak freely with me as the only female sitting there and watching and listening. Doggy Dog isn't too intimidated by the larger dogs, so  that is good.
What I learn is how to survive in a small town. Some of the guys are well of. One flaunts his wealth throwing a thick money clip with a wad of dollars on the fake rock where we put our coffee mugs. Others keep silent. Yet in a small town everybody knows everybody's business. There is a bunch of taller dogs  who play and get sometimes a bit rowdy, then Doggy Dog runs for cover under my protection. This talk among them creates a bond. Some are more prone to act, others look out for their interests. One speaks about the woman working for him and boasts. Ron makes the morning coffee. I like talking with him He actually grew up in Chloride, knows its in's and out's, went tho first grade here in town. Now, no school, only the school bus. Ron is a kind of visionary but knows the limits of what is possible in this town. This is not a place for young children, there is only nature that is an inspiration.

So they arrive
Ron first
puts on the coffee
then one by one
they arrive
and bring their stories

After going there for a while
I know
that men speakdifferently
than women
The comradery can have an
edge with a smile
So turns the night to day
Water to coffee
Silence to talk.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Autumn rain in Chloride

The smell of rain in the desert
The sound of rain on a tin roof
The gentle rumbling of giant's conversations
The grey a grace and gratitude

And then lightning -
        the higher light light of
      comprehension and compassion -

The sand is thirsty and clears the air breath by breath -

Smell the roses
        smell the rain on sand

The highest mountain claims the cloud.

October 24 - 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016

After Nadine's Birthday party...

A bunch of us, under the guidance of Ray and  Shelley keeping her mother at home we worked tirelessly to decorate the roo, which came out great,  the table setting and decoration and the hushed silence when it was clear that Nadine had arrived. Never in the history of Chloride was a secret kept. She and John had no idea that there were around 60 people helping her having a great birthday surprise party.

If I can find someone to help me uploading the pictures that came out great you'll see how great the party was.

Nadine and John

It is Nadine's birthday today. Ray and Shelley really went out of their way to give her a special occasion birthday. I helped but my contribution was of a poem. I was lucky they liked the poem.
By the way the Chloride women can sure cook and bake!!

The house on the hill
has its foundation
in beauty and the wisdom
of building strong.

Kindness rounded everything off.
The gentle lady of the house
found strength to do
what she had to do

each day - good days and others

No bake-sale without her
No morning coffee without him

Day by day their togetherness
grants freedom to both -

And so the river of time flows.

Happy birthday Nadine!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Brother and sister

I lived as an only child from an only child and have an only child. And the question "Do you know Janine Ameloot?" My reply was: yes she was my mother. Then followed a longer very thoughtful e-mail. And it became evident pretty soon that my brother Tommy had found me. I didn't know about him. My mother never told me, but after Tommy had contacted me,  by a weird set of circumstances my stepfather decided to tell me there was an other child from my mother. So Tommy's existence had been confirmed. Now a few weeks later we are planning to meet in Chloride for just a few days. His two daughters will accompany him. Of course after having been away from Chloride the yard is overgrown, doors and windows have to be repainted ( every year :-; ). Then followed an invitation for thanks giving, an occasion more important in the USA than Christmas or Halloween. The name says it: it is about giving thanks. It started out as a giving thanks for a good harvest. In Germany that is "Ernte Dank Fest". And yes it is fitting that we, brother and sister, meet in this time of the year. We have e-mailed, spoken over the phone and I am invited to spend the Holiday with Tommy and Jo Ann's extended family. I know, as a former only child, that it is easy to be overwhelmed by suddenly being part of a tribe, and being related by blood or marriage to all of them. So yes I'll travel to Cincinnati and back to Las Vegas, which is the nearest airport and from which I will fly out back to Brussels and then on by bus to Antwerp. All this with Doggy Dog in tow.

What adventures we will have.

Coretta Scott King

Elizabeth Warren read out the text that follows and was stopped and escorted out of the congress trying to stop the nomination of Jeff Sessions for federal judge. Elizabeth is my champion and I thank her for her courage. Coretta Scott King, the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., urged Congress in a letter to block the 1986 nomination of Jeff Sessions for federal judge, saying that allowing him to join the federal bench would “irreparably damage the work of my husband.” The letter, previously unavailable publicly, was obtained on Tuesday by The Washington Post.

(Read the full letter below)

“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” King wrote in the cover page of her nine-page letter opposing Sessions’s nomination, which failed. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”
Thirty years later, Sessions, now a senator, is again undergoing confirmation hearings as President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, and he is facing fierce opposition from civil rights groups.
In the letter, King writes that Sessions’s ascension to the federal bench “simply cannot be allowed to happen,” arguing that as a U.S. attorney, the Alabama lawmaker pursued “politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions” and that he “lacks the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge.” She said Sessions’s conduct in prosecuting civil rights leaders in a voting-fraud case “raises serious questions about his commitment to the protection of the voting rights of all American citizens.”
“The irony of Mr. Sessions’ nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given a life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods,” she wrote, later adding, “I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made toward fulfilling my husband’s dream.”
It is sad that in today's America actions like this are still necessary. We live in dark times and Elizabeth shows us the courage we need in these circumstances.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Terminal dementia

When my mother was sinking away, loosing herself from dementia, she lost language and the simple daily actions. Yet her bread had to be prepared. Sometimes she needed to be fed. She rebelled against that. She became dehydrated because also she didn't want to drink. Thus she ended up in a hospital where they flooded her with intravenous fluids. She was more alert, more conscious of her surroundings and the people around her. When the doctor explained what was going on he used the phrase that she had "terminal dementia". Since I didn't understand what that was, I asked him. His reply was that her brain no longer could tell her she was hungry or thirsty. Thus she didn't want to eat or drink, keeping her lips tightly closed. Refusing anything to eat. I had one day a last conversation with her. She was trying to say something, made some noises that were no words. I was intend on giving her a rely, but knew not what she meant to say. Thus what did the former interpreter do: I changed the sounds she made just a little bit. We kept it up for about ten minutes. I'll never know what we said. Maybe the only thing that counted was the effort to hear her and to try and understand how she felt. Just a few minutes later she knew no longer who I was.
I have a fond memory of this bizarre conversation that brought us nearer to each other, even not knowing what we said. I guess the connection was what was important to both of us.

My mothers dementia

After a period when she tried to hide that she often couldn't find her words or didn't remember how to do simple household tasks, she slipped away into not eating nor drinking. Whatever her husband tried, she would not open her mouth. Part of it was the struggle to get her dentures in. So after a while they gave that up, and softened her food.
But it was not going well, she lost weight, was often sad, since she didn't know what was going on. And she got dehydrated. When in the hospital the gave her intravenous fluids and she perked up, was almost her old self again, spoke a few words. But when she was back home it was obvious that the home care wasn't enough for her
anymore. She was brought to a nursing home in Brecht, where she passed away. The phone call came a bit past midnight since they couldn't reach my stepfather.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Great-grand-dad Cooper

What I found out or was told: Great-granddad Cooper was an Irish blacksmith who worked for the Yankee's during the civil war shooing their horses. One day they came upon an Native American Cree camp. One lady was working very hard and was not treated well. So Cooper took her back to Dayton, where she had eight children. It was always cozy in their home with the fire on for the blacksmithing. The first one to be born was our grandmother to be. At least that is what I could coble together or was hinted at by our mother. There must have been a Cooper too? But I wouldn't know how he would fit in... I think you know more about the family tree than I ever did. Our mother was full of secrets... She must have expected something else when she married our father John. She probably dreamed of an American kitchen and a washing machine or a real fridge and not a zinc tub with a block of ice. They lived with ten people then in a clap house, like the put on the reservations in Arizona: Too cold in winter, too hot in summer... They lived in there with ten people, plus me as a baby. When a nephew didn't do what she wanted she slapped him in the face. Aunt Louise remembers the incident clearly. It was probably that what made them leave. Dad had a good job with the railroad in Dayton. Louise never understood why he gave that up to leave Dayton. I seem to remember they went East, and ended up in Texas where fate did its work, for you as well as for me and our mother. I think our father has been a good father to Mark. He and my late husband Tony Mafia used to talk on the phone a lot. John always came across as caring, but after he and our mother split up, he too went through a rough spot for a while, till he found his way back to Dayton.  He remarried after a while and along came Mark. He writes, he has done a lot of linguistics at the university but except for his writing he didn't do much with his linguistics. No, that isn't true: he once gave me a language he had developed and which would come in handy in meeting aliens ; ).

PS: There should be a Gallagher somewhere. So maybe I am confusing the Cooper branch and the Gallaghers

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

My mother's books

My mother’s books

After my mother passed away, my stepfather said: you can take the English books away. I took them and have in the mean time read most of them. Some are by good authors like William Burroughs, Tennessee Williams, Irwin Shaw, James Michener, Pearl Buck, Truman Capote, Larry Mac Murthy and also Louisville Saturday by Margaret Long: soldiers and lonely women, love, ecstasy and heartbreak.

The rest: trash pure and unadulterated, rather sexualized trash. But then the other day I spotted a French book by Simone de Beauvoir. I could have that one too. My mother had had a good education, has been in a French speaking boarding school, so the language didn’t surprize me. The title: La femme rompue (The torn woman). It was the youngest book among the lot. I am reading it: it is a dark and troubled book, written very intelligent. The male/female relationships are dark and troubled dissecting also mothers and daughters. (In this case posthumously)

The book portrays the loneliness of relationships that once were vibrant and fulfilling, but leaves the main characters empty handed, empty hearted. The little noises of others being unpalatable and the loneliness unbearable. The main female character at the end can’t write as well as she could. There is lot of silence in the book, uncomfortable silence that is. Every relationship turns into a disappointment and thus loneliness settles deep in the soul. Silence in the conversations, which are not really an exchange, which leave one empty broken. I wonder how broken her spirit was, to the point of dementia. To the point of no return: terminal dementia.

High expectations of oneself do not come true in the book which kind of breaks, brings someone down. Why did she buy and read that book? She must have expected more from life, but with my stepfather she choose the safe road for her, although not for me. It is an intelligent book – what one would expect from Simone De Beauvoir. In nature once in while there is solace to be found and solitude. Yet in her life there is also too much solitude. My mother was a good-looking woman. And she could hold her drink. Men were drawn to her. She met Louis at the Century hotel where she worked as a telephone operator and he as an electrician.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Liefde in België/ Love in Belgium/ Liebe in Belgiën

Each of the poets sent in three poems. Each poem was then translated into German by German poet Fred Schywek. Fred has translated many Dutch-writing poets into German. Some poems speak about loss, others about lust. Some write short poems, followed by a long one. Anything goes, since all the participants are real poets. Of course life goes on while doing all this. One is moving house. Another has a bad cold or a deadline for something else. But the poems got written. On Sunday night we will read all the poems to each other. Of course with a drink and a bite...
This years Buchmesse in Frankfurt has as special guests The Netherlands and Flanders from 19. - 23. October 2016. It is within this framework that the book will appear beginning of October  when the Buchmesse is on.  
The Cover picture is by Tony Mafia
Participants: Joke van Leeuwen * Annmarie Sauer * Rose Vandewalle * Annie Reniers *Maud Vanhauwaert * Lies van Gasse * Annemarie Estor 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Family matters - Familymatters

The first time I met my father and my brother was after a year of interpreting for the meetings of ESSO, having saved each payment for the trip. We had flown in to Washington and the trip to Dayton was silent and long, driving through cornfields mile after mile to get to Dayton. It could have been a wild goose chase not having found a phone number from Belgium for my father. After we settled down in the local Holiday Inn I picked up the phone book. There were a bunch of Sauers... I knew my father was John A. or R. Sauer and found the number. So I called and a young male voice answers the phone. I said: My name is Annmarie Sauer, I am looking for a relative of mine. He, Mark said I pass you my father. A nice voice comes on the phone. I repeat what I just told Mark and the male voice at the other end answers: Yes, you are my daughter. I hadn't thought further than that. So I said I would like to meet you. So he gives me instruction to come to his work, He was a blue collar worker in a print factory. Jim and I and Maya showed up and had a nice meeting. He apologized for my English (which must have sounded too European or British) saying: She lost her accent... The young man, Mark had come too, and I thought: Oh, my little brother is Gay. I cherish that meeting. Years later when I was in Chloride, he called me and came out to me. So sweet... . We corresponded a while but now it is time to be closer again, seen there is another brother... I guess one way or the other we should all meet. Because no longer am I an only child, who has an only child... Although seen I didn't know anything about the child Tom, also my brother, I felt like an only child. So I am the oldest of the three of us.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Inspector Schimanski is no more...

Götz George (23 July 1938 - 19 June 2016) son of the actor couple Berta Drews and Heinrich George. He was the german actor chosen to perform the role of the Duisburg detective Horst Schimanski for the TV crime series Tatort. He has performed many other characters as well... This detective was very fysical, smart, sometimes kind to the perpetrators, knowing how hard their life is. He starred in plays plays and his debut was in 1950 in a play by . He perfected is acting between 1958 and 1963. He personified Martin Luther, was the lead in Büchner's Danton's Death, which he considered to be his best role. William Saroyan's My Heart's in the Highlands. He also co-staged-managed .Gogol's The Government Inspector

He received the crucial part of his acting education between 1958 and 1963. Following his mother's advice he occasionally played at the Deutsches Theater in Göttingen under the direction of Heinz Hilpert. After Hilpert's death, George would never join a fixed theater company again. Hansgünther Heyme signed him in 1972 to the Kölner Schauspielhaus, where George played Martin Luther in Dieter Forte's Martin Luther und Thomas Münzer. His most important stage achievement, in his own opinion, was the lead role in  during the Salzburg Festival in 1981. In 1986 and 1987 George, together with Eberhard Feik and Helmut Stauss, stage-managed. Performing in Anton Chekhov's Platonov, George went on his hitherto last theater tour. He also was in some films among other one with Romy Schneider. 

He has given me many great Sunday evening delights, seeing his rough and tumble character, with a soft side doing what he did. In Ruhrort there is a Schimanski Gasse. Next time I am there I will lay down a flower for him.

Friday, June 24, 2016


I feel strangely lonely after the British people voted to leave the European Union. I listened to the radio all night. It has always been the UKIP and thus Nigel Farage, a demagogue who never liked the union and had a seat in the European Parliament together with the extreme right, with a racist and nationalist ideology.
I started to work for the European Parliament as a very young freelance interpreter and after passing the competition I became a staff member. I was really happy with the first enlargement when Britain joined the original six countries the so called BENELUX (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg,) Germany, Italy and France was the first enlargement and to me it just felt right. Now there were till yesterday 28 countries. 27 thus of today.
A lot of energy will be siphoned off to regulate how this exit will be organized. Time that could be better used for the other major subjects like climate change, the refugees and how to deal humanely and compassionately with them. It is a bitter situation which can be dealt with better with the European Union. Maybe this represents also an opportunity to strengthen the European Union. However there are similar Eurosceptic parties in the different member states. Article 50 should be applied since this article states how to disentangle one nation from the Union.
The British pound is floundering... The financial markets are in turmoil. And Nigel Farage is still stirring the pot hoping that the Dutch and other countries will also organize a vote to leave. However with all it's difficulties the European Union still is a great project. The expat community from Britain is not feeling very good right now. An interesting fact: The young people between 18 and 25 voted to stay it and London too is not like the rest of the still United Kingdom.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Poetry reading in the Ruhrort Artgallery

 Fred Schywek is a good organizer, he has taste in music and is an interesting poet. He also loves music and this is how he works with musicians. These musicians are great. I always feel carried by their music. They seem to feel the mood of each of my poems. Fred also read his Hollywood poetry. In each of the images accompanying the poems one sees the grime and dirt of Hollywood. He doesn't prettify reality. But with a sensitive touch clarifies the facts of life on Hollywood Boulevard. Meat for sale, sleeping rough, begging for food, impersonating a star for a quarter or a dime...
Scientology and it's consequences and yes some of the boardwalk stars... Oh yes I read poetry by Sherman Alexie and by Robert Hershon translated for the occasion in German. The crowd enjoyed it all. Listened attentively and commented at the end. Another great reading. Claus the guitar on the left hand in the picture also read. I look forward to the next occasion. Fred had also made some slide shows and some shorts movies. A very varied menu to pick from. It was a great reading, right there on the river Rhine.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Eaves dropping in a local café while having lunch with Lucy

I live in Antwerp, near or even in part of the Jewish quarter. I thought I give this post a funny title because what I overheard was everything but funny. Two holocaust survivors spoke about their life and what they had done with the experience. The old lady kept a diary most of her life and she became a sculptor. The old man on the other hand plays the violin and lectures all over the world about what the holocaust meant and means, without forgetting the genocides of today. The dystopian wars in Europe of the last century still carry over the consequences for whom lived through that ordeal.
The old lady writes in her diary every morning and every evening and she wonders why she does it, because her writing may never be read, wondering whether writing makes sence. So writing diaries/or blogs myself I do believe that it is important to try and make sense of the world, to keep track of feeling and thoughts day after day, making sense of our personal issues as a rite of passage in this life.

Thus I note the arrival of Hanging Loose Press copies and look proudly at the stack of wonderful books and the poems, beauty and thoughts they contain,while I am shy, kind of self-conscious, about sending some of my poetry books to Hanging Loose Press.
Yet all of you who write, just go on doing what you do. You never know what words will sink into a person's soul and bring understanding, solace and courage to live a full life doing what one has to do.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Pitch of Poetry by Charles Bernstein

I love poetry, so I had to get the book. I started reading and although my english is really good, I couldn't quiet follow the reasoning of the author. The concepts were too strange, too far away from what I knew. But I finished the book, underlining large portions and after a day of rest I started rereading the book. And yes I am understanding more. I mark new thoughts. And I fell for the concepts about plagiarism, working on the basis of an older text, a preexisting text and taking away thoughts, words, and stealing from the source text... Charles Bernstein edited during 4 years with Bruce Andrews the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E magazine.
The main slant is on making meaning, not taking for granted anything from vocabulary to process, program, nor subject matter. The poetry of the magazine was in stark contrast to the poetry of the time. It included critical writing by the poets of the magazine. Some names of poets I knew because I have participated in the MODPO course by Al Filreis twice, fascinated as I was by it and will follow it again... I learned that process, mood and inconsistency is more important than stylistic uniformity. The book also addresses translation and it problematic aspects. I have translated quite a lot from English to Dutch, from Dutch to English (not as much).
It is clear from the text that the civil right's movement had a deep impact. I was also happy to find a reference to George Lakoff and his theory of frames and reframing and oppositional poetry. I know language is not neutral...
If you're interested in poetry and the politics, the evolving views the do read this book.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Goldfish and Rose by Robert Hershon

Never did I receive a poetry book by a friend with such a dedication, so sweet and funny that I should not repeat it in public! Thank you for that Robert.
I am the proud owner of Calls from the outside world and The German Lunatic. All books by Hanging Loose Press. He is also, and has been co-editor since 1966 of the wonderful magazine by that name of which I have a small collection. Robert has always been a lover of films, a passion which engendered Freeze Frame by PRESSED WAFER. I particularly like "1948": Saturdays describing how he and his sister would always find a dollar on the dresser so they could go and watch a movie. It is quite an overview honoring some actors I am not familiar with, but also some names I know, having seen their movies. His latest book is Goldfish and Rose, again with an iconic cover. He is wise and funny. Some poems deal with art: among others the title poem Goldfish and Rose. Also Sidney says (do this): who the hell needs poems (just as my stepfather feels). There is also gentle reflection about aging: Will his readers know the names of baseball players he mentions? Does he need to provide footnotes? Identifying parentheses? I also love the Poems Frame of reference I and particularly II about D-day: Well I know about D-day. My father, an American soldier, survived that day...  and I am a consequence of it. It is a book following the stream of life and happenings in New York, a book with kindness and humor and here and there a touch of melancholy. Thank you Robert. Stay well.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


It is great to get a book like this as a present: new writing from Africa South of the Sahara. The writing is very diverse notwithstanding that certain themes are touched upon more often than others. Hunger, the struggle for survival, violence, lust and sex it is all present in this very well chosen overview of new writings. Yet also the beginning of the Nigerian civil war is dealt with and the complicated relationships or enmities between the different tribes: Hausas are targeting Igbos but the protagonist  of one of the stories has a Yoruba father...
Quote: It wasn't Lagos she longed for, the splendour, the sensational, the sense of being wealthy - but the sense of self surrendered to the senselessness of history, the narrowness and naïvety of her former individuality...
Extract from TAIYE SELASI : from Ghana must go.
A few concepts from the same story: Olu : all is quiet. Taiwo : the tension, a light tugging sensation. But no sense of danger, no cause for alarm. Kehinde : the absence and Sadie : fluttering butterflies, a new thing this restlessness, this looking for something, not finding it.
Of course by quoting only one of the authors I don't do the book justice. Read it, you find yourself all over the world and you will have a lot of food for thought...

Monday, May 2, 2016

First of May - memories

After a wonderful birthday the day before, I - as I do every year - went to town to walk with the others in the first of May Parade. One is sure to meet friends one hasn't seen in a year, also family or ex-family and everything, every one is in good spirits, catching up on the events of the year that has passed again. Where did it go?

After the parade I went home with Doggy Dog who sported a red balloon on her collar. On the way back home a granddad and a little girl admired my dog and the red balloon. So I untied the balloon and the granddad tied it to her arm... So it all made for a nice day. I have marched I guess every year since we managed to help to dispose of Pinochet by helping the resistance in Chili. As a consequence, the kids of my daughter's generation never had eaten fruit from Chile nor from South Africa.

On a mission for work in South Africa, the cell mate next to Mandela's cell had provided a lunch packet for our delegation. When I opened it I found also a cape Apple. I smiled and told the man my daughter had never eaten fruit from Chile nor South Africa. He replied: It really helped us knowing that people all over the world boycotted the apartheid's fruit...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

So I am sand/ Zo ben ik zand

A short while ago I wrote a series of eight short pieces, influenced by the Gertrude Steins referential writing mainly in Tender Buttons. It were reflections on the desert around Chloride, which is my small town nestled in the Mojave Desert. Rose Vandewalle, very often my first reader, mailed the text to her publisher Bert Jans from Dodo Press (dodopers) in Eindhoven. He turned the text into a delicate, delicious small hand bound book. How can I express my gratitude to both Rose and Bert, my joy at showing the book in the Art Bar across the street. I have had the joy once before of being published in a book by dodopers, in Rose's bilingual book "Zwanenzang/Swansong". Here next to the Dutch poem, my English translation has found its place. This book too is a jewel. Bert and Rose, you made me very happy.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Antwerp as diamond city

Antwerp is a diamond city and that means that we have a rather large Indian population, the majority of which lives near the more leafy areas around town and a huge Jewish community living in town, right there where I live too.
The Jewish community celebrates their Pesach or Easter between April 22 and April 20. This celebration entails a more than thorough spring cleaning before the passover. The house has to be thoroughly cleaned so that all that is dirty, or contains yeast or that can ferment has to be thrown out of the house. The city of Antwerp organises an extra household-garbage collection in the neighbourhood. I am glad that inclusiveness is working this way. Yet also other communities, like the Moroccan community have their own customs like following the Ramadan. This means no eating during the day, only after sunset and before sunrise one can eat. Mutton with couscous is one of their delicious dishes. Yet the sheep have to be slaughtered in a ritual way, slitting their throat. Often this leads to controversy, or even protests. People feel that electrocuting the sheep is more humane...  Strange concept.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Poverty in a rich country...

I don't mean the kind of poverty where children are in rags and begging in the streets. I am considering a rather rich country and how certain people do fall through the cracks. I know this family where the father now retired, had a good job and was a member of the city council. The two children have to fight the system. The administration a single mother has to go through to let her bright son, who just got his bachelor, do his master is nightmarish. I happened to listen to her reading a letter about about the fictive costs for his education that would be deducted from her allowance... although he is not getting that money it being a fictive calculation. Finding an apartment is altogether a different issue: there one has to be on a list of being interested in finding a place. That seems logical, but then the size if too large by just a few meter, would disqualify the person to get that apartment unless the extra square meters are sealed off... Some places are uninsulated attics, others are just  a few € over the maximum... and thus are denied to those who fall maybe a few € short. So life is a struggle for many people. And it is the grace of people, that they do not skimp, that they still are generous and warm. My friend has raised two wonderful boys, when I go and visit, she gives up her bed for me and sleeps on the sofa... She also manages to put good food on the table on a small budget. Some aspects are surreal.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ruhrgebied -

Germany is still a strong going country, yet I saw first hand how the amount of refugees change a small town. In a decommissioned hospital refugees have found a temporary home. Yet when they walk in groups of hundred  through a small and pretty town, it is kind of disconcerting....  In Kamp Lintfort, a rather nice neighbourhood where  the larger no longer active coal mines were,  there two Dash white tent-camp cities build just next to a nice neighbourly area... It looks sterile, no people are out... it is certainly better than being out in the rain. I don't know what the living conditions are for the refugees there. I am astonished and do feel for the old population in the workman's and miners neighbourhood and am sure that  this is better than being in a dingy boat and risking life and limb in fleeing war and violence.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Incident during the plenary session of the European Parliament

 Many years I worked as an interpreter for the European Parliament and have witnessed first hand several incidents. Truth is that the current President Martin Schulz has had his share of insults hurled at him during his long standing in the socialist group of the European Parliament and now also as the president of the European Parliament. Today a Greek member, member of the extreme right group in the European Parliament where also Marine Le Pen is a member, insulted the Turks with what one can only call racist and filled with vile comments. Hate speech would be the correct term for it. Martin Schulz asked the member to leave the room. The member refused and here, on the link below you can see what happened and it needs no more comment from me except: Thank you Martin Schulz for not allowing blatant racism, and for upholding the norms of decency.    
Watch it here:

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Demonstration to close the nuclear plants in Doel near Antwerp.

Actually when I close the bedroom drapes in the evening and when I open them in the morning I see the steam coming out of these old nuclear plants which have a lot of problems. One problem has to do with
the inside copper reactor vat. There are fissures in it, some 18 cm, or 9 inch long, some open wider than a millimetre, or even two. Nobody knows exactly what the danger is. In Holland and in Germany they are preparing for the distribution of jodium pills. So where I will be from 2 o'clock on today is at the demonstration to close the plant. 
By the way the plant in Tihange, near the German border is just as bad. The person at the head of Fanc gave permission to keep the reactors open till 2022 and I read in a recent interview given by the director, that if he had known all the facts, he would not have made  that decision. This is one of the reasons why we have the demonstration with participants from The Netherlands, because of the proximity to Doel and from Germany, because of the proximity to Tihange.In case of a disaster the nuclear cloud will have arrived in Duisburg, Krefeld and Cologne in under two hours, seen the prevailing West winds. It was a good gathering with a large delegation from Germany, not only working to close the local Antwerp nuclear plants I and II in Doel, but  also to shut down Tihange. Basically, I think that all nuclear plants have to be decommissioned. As Cato said in Rome, Carthago esse delendum. The plants must be torn down and destroyed. Replace them with clean natural energy.

Friday, March 11, 2016

American elections

Currently I reside in Europe following the election campaign with horror at the Trump phenomenon and decidedly with amazement at the democratic campaign. When in the States I live a small rural village with about 359 residents. Only about twenty are registered democrats, myself included. I can but wonder how the atmosphere in town is with the ugliness that has been spewed by Trump. He didn't make the fortune he has, he inherited it from his father as far as I could research it. What gets to me is his hatred, his vulgar racism.The lack of condemnation of the Clan. And yet, I am not happy with what is happening on the democratic side. I would like Hillary to win. And I would like to see her take over a few good ideas Bernie has. It might be time for a female president, one who has proven that she has stamina, knows the wheels of government and she might just find the trick on how to work together with the congress and the senate. I am also astonished that Bernie Sanders goes after Obama. I must admit that I like the president a lot. I think he accomplished what he could in the face of opposition by the republicans who seemed to prefer that nothing could happen that is good for the country. Hillary certainly knows the president very well and I think she does appreciate all he tried to accomplish. Maybe this fact alone would get her my vote. I'll try and be home for early voting and go for the ride till after election day. That is to say unless the atmosphere in the country turns ugly. What is this about building a wall between Mexico and the USA? All that for a few illegal Mexicans crossing the border at their own peril? What about the poor Americans living not to far from Mexico who go there to see the dentist, to buy their prescription drugs.... Friendship will always bring me back to my old gas station.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Sahara Testaments

Well, loyal readers of this blog on which I sadly haven't written too much, know that I have been working on the translation of "The Sahara Testaments" Luckily for a venture like this I am surrounded by smart and kind people. I started out translating all two hundred poems. And then slowly I realised that publishing the full translation in Dutch side to side with the English would yield over 420 pages. Apart from the translation there were many cultural references, landscape elements, even political events which needed explanation.
Frank Devos was my first proofreader, and since we worked well together we would take several afternoons and comb thoroughly trough the translations. We realised more and more that publishing the complete volume in both languages wouldn't work for any publisher. Thus we came up with the idea of publishing the three first chapters. Still 133 pages. I must not only thank Frank but also Joke Van Leeuwen, President of PEN-Flanders and of course Tade Ipadeola for having written something that managed to stay with me, something that taught me a lot about Afrika and about writing. Joke caught still a few slip ups or inconsistencies in my spelling. So I am grateful that the text is now presentable to a publisher... Tade thanks for trusting me with your text. When the translation of the three first chapters of your book is published, we hope that you can come over. It would be wonderful that for the presentation you would read your poems in English and I could present them in Dutch. I'll have to sit down with Joke and she said she would approach the publisher Harold Polis. A new player on the Dutch/Flemish publishing market.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Op droeve velden - On saddened fields -

The evening about world war I was part poetry and piano recital and part peace action, organized by Frank De Vos in cooperation with the district of Hoboken. In 2016, 2 million German troops stood against 3 million of the allied forces. My great-uncle Edo as a young boy in Flanders fields. Poison gas as first used on April 22, 1915. From 1915 to 1918 not only one and a half million Armenians were killed by the Turkish regime but also thousands of ethnic Greeks and Assyrian Christians.
At the piano was the amazing Billy Pletinck playing the piano, hammering it when needed, caressing when suited. The organization was flawless and during the music pictures from that time were shown in a slide shows. about the Hoboken war experience. After each piece of music a poet read his or her poem. I honor the poets of that evening and the master of ceremony Roger Nupie. Basically this was a multi-disciplinary activity: Music, photography by Hartmut De Martelaere and Goddie Caubergh and ten poets: Peter Holvoet-Hanssen presented an evocation of "The occupied city", the beautiful book by Paul Van Ostayen about the occupation of Antwerp in the forties of last century.
The poets: Cecile Van Houten, Eric Vandenwyngaerden, Annmarie Sauer, Erwin Steyaert, Erick Kila, Ann Van Dessel, Bert Bevers. Only at the end I saw how the hall was filled and that several friends were in the audience. It was a classy and wonderful night. And yes war is wrong: Make Love Not War!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Norris Bennet

Leaving Arizona always brings melancholy since I leave behind dear friends for about a year. So I have learned to cherish my friends while I can. Yes, John and Nadine (and Otis of course who is loved and adored by my Doggy Dog.) Also Cooper and Irene, Tucker and Annie Bones.
Norris Bennet has been a friend since forever. I probably met him when I was 19 or maybe 20. He was part part of a group of buskers and artists in Antwerp. He later moved to the Netherlands, but whenever he came to Belgium he would stay at my place. Derroll Adams, Tony Mafia, Robin an Irish busker who stayed a while with Tony and me ad of course there was singer songwriter Dave Betts. Anyway, this blog is about friendship. Norris always had bad eyesight, but when I met him in November it turned out that he was totally blind. He is one the musicians of The Ebony Hillbilly's, a large all black group playing folk songs. Norris's voice always had a special quality going high and strong. Deep and warm. When I asked him how he cooped, his reply was: you have to know a lot of phone numbers by hart. So I wondered how many he knew. His reply was a few hundred. But enough of that. It was on my way back from Arizona that I decided to have a three day stop over in New York. I wanted to see Norris, feel how he is and then also Carla came with Tara. We had a nice Italian dinner all together. It was wonderful and enlightening to see how he copes. He is a great example. By the way, it was Tony who gave him the Turquoise ring he always wears.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review of "Over ruggen van zalmen" by André Oyen - Over the Backs of Salmon

Translation of a review of "Over ruggen van zalmen, by Annmarie Sauer" Published by Publisher P, Leuven, Belgium. Review by André Oyen.http://ansiel.cinebelblogs.be/archive/2015/10/17/over-ruggen-van-zalmen-sherman-alexie-55144.html#more

 Quote: "Everyone I have lost/ in the closing of a door/ the click of the lock/ is not forgotten, they/ do not die but remain/ within the soft edges/ of the earth, the ash "INDIAN BOY LOVE SONG #1)

Language: Dutch
Original language: English
P, 2015 128 pages
Selection from 4 books of poetry: The business of fancydancing (1991), The first Indian on the Moon (1993), The summer of black widows (1996) One stick song (1999)
-->ISBN 9789491455742

Sherman Alexie Joseph, Jr. (Wellpinit (Washington), October 7, 1966 is an American poet, writer and film maker who writes about race and politics in a sharp style without taboo's. Many of his texts are based on his experiences as Native American; as Spokane-Coeur d'Alene Indian in the USA. He is more famous and more influential than other Native American writers, writing in different genres and publishing on a grand scale. He produced and writes film scenarios and can often be seen as a TV commentator. Some of his most famous works are The Lone Ranger, Tonto and the Fistfight in Heaven. His books of poetry often contain long pieces of prose as is the case in The Business of Fancydancing (1992), First Indian on the Moon (1993) and One Stick Song (2000). His first novel Reservation Blues, received in 1996 one of the 15 American Book Awards. His first novel for young adults, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is a semi-autobiographical novel for which in 2007 he received the American National Book Award for Young People's Literature, also the Odyssey Award of 2008 for the best audio book for young people, read by Alexie himself. Yet The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was censored in several American States because of it's positive view on masturbation. His collection of short stories and poems with the title War Dances, won in 2010 the PEN / Faulkner Award for Fiction. In 2013 he received the John Dos Passos Prize. Over de ruggen van zalmen (Over the backs of salmon) is a choice out of the four books of poetry of Alexie all published by Hanging Loose Press by Robert Hershon : The Business of Fancydancing (1992), First Indian on the Moon (1993), The Summer of Black Widows (1996),  One Stick Song (1999)). It is the word artist Annmarie Sauer who saw to a magnificent first translation of this really complex poetry which took pertinent poetry publisher a few years to get used before he was convinced of this translation in which he suddenly saw that element of surprise, the scope and depth of Alexie's work. Annmarie Sauer followed translation and interpretation courses of the Higher Institute for Translators and Interpreters in Antwerp and she also got a special degree as moral councilor. She taught interpreting at the Catholic High School in Antwerp. Sauer was interpreter at the European Parliament. She herself writes poetry, reviews and essays, translates from English, French, German. Her poetry debut in 1985 was "Jardin Public". She also put together a serious anthology of contemporary female authors in Flanders: Eigen wegen.
The beauty of this particular translation is that the original text of Sherman Alexie is also included in the book. So one can follow how beautiful the translator did the job. Just as in his prose, he also gives in his poetry, a personal, sometimes seemingly bizarre view on his being of mixed blood Caucasian and Native American. He digs in the past, comes more or less to terms with the present and does also envision the future. Sentence after sentence of each poem is a thorough search for identity, which is a constant mix of two cultures. As, among others, in the poem 'War All the Time' in which Crazy Horse is a Native American coming back from the Vietnam war and sees that is is called a hero. Only he doesn't know whether he is a red or a white hero. Over the Backs of salmon is a special book of poetry in which one can stay for a long time to roam, to learn, to understand and to enjoy.
 André Oyen.