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...