Cornelis van der Wal in Hvedekorn

A few months ago we let you know that six poems by RIXT-poet Cornelis van der Wal would be translated into Danish and published in the renowned Danish literary magazine Hvedekorn. The issue with the translations has been released now. You can find one of the translations here below.

The translations are from Geart Tigchelaar and Carsten René Nielsen.

Listen to the original poem ‘Wêr haw ik west’, read by the poet.

Elmar Kuiper – January

Elmar Kuiper is the RIXT poet of the month January. In November 2019 he wrote the poem cycle ‘Mother Ganges’ in Kolkata (Calcutta), where he performed at the Chair Poetry Evenings. On the last day of the poetry festival he and some fellow-poets made a long pleasure cruise on the Ganges river. Kuiper: ‘I stared into the water and had to think of my mum, who was terminally ill this summer. In the poem I make a link between the polluted, holy river and my mother whose illness was incurable. She always used to say: ‘when it’s my time it’ll be my time.’ The cycle will be included in Kuiper’s new poetry collection: Wite Mûle, Swarte Molke (‘White Mouth, Black Milk’), which will be published by Hispel in the spring.

For Kuiper’s other poems of the month, in Frisian, see here 

MOTHER GANGES

I

In the source bathes a word, from the river bank
a cow bell rings. Mother Ganges carries her pain

in her vest. A bird with pointed wings
hangs still in the air. Another bird circles

rings around grey apartment buildings. Yes, God
I flung overboard. Yes, the mind pounds away,

its mouth filled with dirt, shouts filthy
things, shouts with a mouth full of poison.

II

The sun above Arundhathi’s eyebrows
is Prussian blue, as our boat pushes off

a priest sings. Lovely, isn’t it, being here
in a country where English sounds so funny.

But you’re distracting me, with your rank body,
floating sweetgrass and the refuse of the city.

Are you my mother, who says humanity will be
wiped out? Do you dare to call yourself mother?

I listen and lean over the railing and look
into your mustard yellow visage, Ganges.

III

You are my mother on the floating help and I
stay with you, hold your hand. Your veins, so

strangely thick. Yet another scan and you don’t
believe the results. But the spot in your head is

not an island where we can just sail to and
go on holiday and sunbathe. It is death,

mum, death who plays hide and seek with his
black face in your frontal lobe, making you so

quiet and mild. You whisper hoarsely: Then it’s
my time, my son. Are you giving up? You are

and will stay my mother, who washes my sins, incredulous
though I am. A raptor cries out in the air particulates.

IV

When evil cleanses itself from evil, I will be
clean and pure, mum, and I shall stream

quietly, until death will shiv me violently with his
sickle. When there’s no end or beginning, I’ll lie

on your bank and drown in the source. Oh well, let me
leave it there. Someone says: ‘Hello sir, picture please’

and I make strange faces, can’t think of
any excuse and say abashedly: ‘Okay!’

V

We sail a long way upstream. Kolkata lies like
a white haze in front of our eyes. Katyayani wants

a picture with the friendly giant. Humanity still
lives in the dark; I can almost hear you say it.

I stretch my back and put on a routine smile. Good
will triumph even though I don’t believe in evil.

Ashutosh laughs and Anindina says my eyes
are as clear as the Himalaya.

VI

Tagore, I want to wash the clay off of me, strike
a light tone, throw a coin into your being.

You don’t have to check the lights, mate. The tongue
of your lantern burns. What could I curse you with?

After all, life is just a dew drip on a lotus leaf.
But what about death, Tagore, it’s so hard and hungry.

VII

God, I’ve read Krishnamurthi over and over again, but what good
does it to me, 7500 km from home, I stare over the railing

into the water and see my father under the cow’s udder,
squeezing and pulling on the teats. I catch a glimpse of you:

your tongue sticks out and you stitch and iron
the seams. I hear Brian, compatriot, war veteran

and great poet say you have to put the parts in
different bags. He writes verses like cat’s-tails, like

smoked eel. Now I fly back and wrap up this poem,
mum, as Keisang serves me, pours water into

a plastic cup, the steel bird quivers
above the ocean, only for a moment.

© Elmar Kuiper
Translation: Trevor M. Scarse

Alvaret Ensemble and FEAN on French label LAAPS Records

Alvaret Ensemble and FEAN on French label LAAPS Records

In January 2020 the French label Eilean Records (which has released the album Ljerke in 2018 https://popfabryk.nl/project/lj) will make a step towards a larger scale and wider international attention under a new name: LAAPS Records. The first two releases on this label include the Frisian poetry of Jan Kleefstra, member of RIXT- Frisian poets pack.

In January 2020 the much anticipated third release by the Alvaret Ensemble, called ‘Ea’, will come out on double vinyl and cd. For this record The Alvaret Ensemble consists of Greg Haines, Olga Wojchiekowska, Joana Guerra, Sytze Pruiksma and the brothers Romke and Jan Kleefstra. This album was recorded in the Dorpskerk church in Huizum, Leeuwarden. The release will be accompanied by a transcript of the included Frisian poems with English translations provided by Vivien D. Glass.

In February 2020 the second album from the project FEAN, called ‘FEAN II’, will be released on vinyl and cd. Last year their first album was released by the Amsterdam based label Moving Furniture Records. After a few successful concerts, amongst others on Explore the North, the French label got interested in releasing work by the FEAN project as well. FEAN II will be accompanied by the Frisian poems and English translations as well. FEAN is a project consisting of the collective Piiptsjilling (Rutger Zuydervelt, Mariska Baars and the brothers Romke and Jan Kleefstra) and Sylvain Chaveau, Annelies Monsere and Joachim Badenhorst and deals with the soil subsidence of the peatlands used for agriculture in Fryslân. The music was recorded in the Church of St Thomas in Katlijk. Omrop Fryslân made a two-piece documentary about this issue in which FEAN functioned as a continuous thread throughout the documentary.

FEAN and the Alvaret Ensemble are both supported by the Popfabryk.

Both releases will be available all over the world, but also through the bandcamp of the Kleefstra brothers, on which previous work by the Alvaret Ensemble and much more is still available. Take a gander at: https://kleefstrabros.bandcamp.com/. Physical cd’s of the first FEAN album are no longer available, but you can still buy it digitally.

You can find a new piece of the Alvaret Ensemble, TEQ, here

And a poem by Jan Kleefstra from the record ‘Ea’ (Alvaret Ensemble, 2020 LAAPS records).

After falling from the sky you humbly
place a chair where no one dares to sit

and spill some milk before an insane eye

fist grasping grass
eyes out to sea

no star will lie beside you
no shimmering back carry you to
the ancient peace

don’t put your foot where there is no support

don’t waste a life on a drifting tribe

Sipke de Schiffart – December

Sipke de Schiffart was RIXT-poet of the  month December 2019. You can read his original Frisian poems of that month here. The translation of one of them – ‘generation gap’ – is published below.

generation gap

my dad was an old-fashioned farmer,
every morning he went to work
at half past three
and expected the same of me

but I was half a century younger
and went to bed late,
after having watched TV,
Veronica and the VPRO,
so, I would get up later in the morning

now I think: getting up between five and six,
that’s still quite early
for a boy of around twenty years old

in the mornings I struggled
to wake up, every morning
my father got angry with me,
because I didn’t hurry up

one morning (now I think: middle of the night)
in December of 1980 he came
to my bed at half past three
to announce that Mick Jagger
had been shot in New York

the message had its intended effect:
I was immediately wide awake,
satisfied my dad went back to the barn
to feed the cattle

but when I heard on the clock radio
that it was John Lennon who was shot,
and not Mick Jagger,
I rolled over
and went back to sleep

© Sipke de Schiffart
Translation: Trevor M. Scarse

RIXT poet Syds Wiersma travels through Ireland for four months

Photo: Syds Wiersma

Syds Wiersma was travelling through Ireland last summer for two months. He was working there on a new poetry collection. This travel and work are subsidised by the Dutch Fund for Literature. In April-May 2020 Wiersma will do the second part of his travel, through Northern Ireland.

One of Wiersma’s stays last summer was in Galway, which will be one of the two cultural capitals of Europe next year. Besides writing poetry, he connected there with a few Irish poets and invited them to exchanges and collaborations with Frisian poets. Wiersma submitted this exchange project to the programmers of the Leeuwarden/Fryslân City of Literature project.

Since he intends to write about meeting people, places, spaces, and time, Wiersma has chosen altenative ways of travelling: hitchhiking, walking, cycling, and if necessary public transport. About his experiences he is writing a series of travel stories for the Frisian literary magazine Ensafh.

You can find the links to the first two stories here:

Thoor Ballylee
Letterfrack
Brandon Creek