February 2021

Aggie van der Meer was the RIXT poet of the  month February 2021. You can read her original Frisian poems of that month here. The translation of one of them – ‘The geat Xi Jinping’ – is published here.

Source: Pixabay
The Great Xi Jinping

they greet
they bow
then demand to speak first

he, Xi, perplexed
his power, awarded to him
his strong hand and purpose
will not be taken away by no one
was there any other way open
to them, to him
was there another choice?

he won’t bow down
lest he becomes afraid
his wrath will guard him

now that he knows of their mistake
he’ll save them

the first word,
he will say
remains my due
as is the last

in their silent defence
already threatening
they know that his fear
will force him to imprint
his law, his will and thoughts
on their lips
in their heads

no day when they can forget
no night it won’t hound them
no way out to be found
not for them, nor for him
the last word, he says, has been said

let the world know.

© Aggie van der Meer
Trans. Trevor M. Scarse

 

January 2021

Syds Wiersma was the RIXT poet of the  month January 2021. You can read his original Frisian poems of that month here. The translation of one of them – ‘Sense of Place’ – is published here below.

Photo: Geart Tigchelaar
Sense of Place
Nije Biltpôlen/Noarderleech

No morning person I slip on rough
frozen sludge. Frosted polder dikes.
A white death of bulrush washed ashore.
Rushes sharp brown like wrecking tools.

I follow the gully, got no other choice, even
as a kid I walked on banks of winding ditches,
stand-ins when short of alternative channels.
A strip of island over there, here lies extramural

land seized beneath a sky that plays its
trump card of innocence slick blue, lets 
the hours climb glassily, thaw into a marsh
of finisterre. Timidly the stream crawls on.

Back in Nijesyl I stumble over humps and bumps,
snap up chirping sparrows, presumably to release
them like flatfish from coastal works later on.
Now no-nonsense my stride across the concrete.

The fields are already leaking water from pipes
on the Aldrij. The sun belly sleighing across
a thin sheet of ice. Moorhens pass over quickly:
hungry for forgotten blessed daily bread.

© Syds Wiersma
Trans. Trevor M. Scarse

December 2020

Yva Hokwerda was the RIXT poet of the  month December 2020. You can read her  original Frisian poems of that month here. The translation of one of them – ‘Introvert days of Christmas (by the old radio)’ – is published here below.

ZonderTitel © Gerben de Vries

 

Introvert days of Christmas (by the old radio)

Turn your keyboard upside down, come on, strangle that mouse
Push all the tables against the walls, throw your chairs out of the house.
Let loose all the backbiters, drive every troll back into the thickets,
Dance with yourself at unforgiven hours, stretch your weak calves the thickest.

Drive the Sugar Berg up the wall, hear his angry bellow
Write his logarithmic outcome one by one to zero
Hang your prettiest festoons across that meaningless LCD relic
Free your inner child while belting out and with a firm dropkick.

Jump to the right, to the left, up and down and yell
Your home office is no longer your prison cell!
In the morning, in the evening, on bulletproof coffee, all that talk
You somehow thought your mind spoke out rightly. Not to be a broken clock.

Let the net dry, spin your wool with yarn and glow towards fiction
Whisper the tone seeking escape; wonder, from strange graphic expression
Raise your hands towards the farthest suns at night, gather your own from unframed light
Aquiver streams past you what may strike, your sensation is what Earth supplied.

© Yva Hokwerda
Trans. Trevor M. Scarse

November 2020

Jan Kleefstra was the RIXT poet of the  month November 2020. You can read his  original Frisian poems of that month here. The translation of one of them – ‘On windless days larks don’t bring me to tears’ – is published here below.

Foto: Jan Kleefstra
On windless days larks don’t bring me to tears

not even with the sad confession that the sun
now only rises in shuttered eyes

how long will wings carry the body
through finely meshed rain like before

dragging heavy at times shrill tones across the world

as a boy I sought beneath the same heavens
starved for a meadow bird

casting farther than ever
a kind-hearted light
out ahead of the rain

© Jan Kleefstra
Translation: Trevor M. Scarse

October 2020

Anne Heegstra was the RIXT poet of the  month October 2020. You can read her original Frisian poems of that month here. The translation of one of them – ‘Headamskampen’ – is published here.

Photo: Anne Heegstra
Headamskampen 

in the prickly cold
practically on thin ice
he skated purposely

assured, as he knew
of canal and ditch
crack and furrow

he gave his hankering
ample room to breathe 
yet glided restrainedly

as his skates led him
past the Eleven Lakes
and as many cities

reeds and seams rustled
mirrored in cadence
of blades sliding across the ice

until the dusk forsook
the hours of the day
and embraced the evening

behind closed gate
the broken daylight leaves
the polder in dreams

© Anne Heegstra
Translation: Trevor M. Scarse

September 2020

Peter Vermaat was the RIXT poet of the  month September 2020. You can read his original Dutch poem of that month – ‘Ode to the storyteller’ – here. The translation is published below.

Photo: Geart Tigchelaar

 

Ode to the storyteller

                            for mindert wijnstra

he makes fluid what had been discarded
congealed in the bin of time for years
he can resurrect the ladies of the sea
knows where the devil dances in the dark

put on top of a horse by an old pack rat
he leads you into the forest of imagination
where the white lady restyles herself
light he sees, yet it chafes with the bodach

born and raised in a village the heath 
caused an uproar with foresters aiming rifle
that’s the birthplace of a great storyteller

as a teacher he knew how to form everyone
let the children dream beyond fish and cattle
now the sky brings setbacks and sorrows

© Peter Vermaat
Translation: Trevor M. Scarse

Frisian Poets Pack RIXT – ‘The Storm’

From the 1st of August to the 7th, the Frisian Poets Pack RIXT convened at the Writer’s Ark of Rink van der Velde near the village of De Feanhoop. Every day a duo came here to work on a new verse for a collective poem.

The poet of the month, Cornelis van der Wal, had the honour of writing the first verse, and started the poem with the line ‘The lake doesn’t take the storm’ from the novel De nacht fan Belse madam by Rink van der Velde. This Line of Rink thus set the tone and direction for the poem and the week itself.

The regional broadcaster Omrop Fryslân called in every day to hear that day’s new verse. Thus, listeners of the afternoon radio programs ‘De middei fan Fryslân’, ‘Sneon yn Fryslân’ and ‘Snein yn Fryslân’ were able to follow the evolution of the poem. The week was capped off with a performance of the complete poem in the former haunt of Rink van der Velde – Café Marktzicht in Drachten – on the 8th of August.

The participating poets were:

Cornelis van der Wal
Janneke Spoelstra
Rein de Lange
Kate Schlingemann
Edwin de Groot
Anne Heegstra
Simen de Jong
Tialda Hoogeveen
Carla van der Zwaag
Ypie Bakker
Tsjisse Hettema
Syds Wiersma
Dirk Geerdink
Yva Hokwarda
Jan Kooistra


The storm


The lake doesn’t take the storm

and you won’t answer me back.

Above the both of us drift

clouds that want to cry.


Underneath us the peat fire,

your eyes wander off.

I’m asking the reeds for guidance.

Thunder rumbles in the distance.


Perhaps I should take my leave of you.

Let the lake for what it is and might

a clean request hide in valleys far away

where thunder grumbles in another tongue


from the one I let myself be scared by.

Do I want to exorcise the fire

while it’s anchored within my being,

or does the heat crackle the stump in twain?


Do you still love me I asked you

your silence is the answer that unsettles my soul

the lightning forces a break line

and splits the lake clinically into chaos.


Sky fans out every which way.

I no longer want to run in circles

on still water like a pond skater

waiting for a wave from you


I leave everything behind. Cleansed

it’s clear to me. The lake doesn’t take the

storm but you should take me as I am.


If only you’d taken me. You termagant,

I push off our water soldiers. A damselfly

stirs the empyrean skin across the plunge.

The sound of the quant laughs. I’ve seen us.


I saw your eyes no longer asking,

I saw the lakes that won’t take.

Once more I write light from stillness,

know that I’ll drift with black swans.

Watch the video for the poem ‘The Storm’ and an insight of the week at the Ark.

Translation by Trevor Scarse
Video made by Geart Tigchelaar