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.

 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.