Job Degenaar – July 2019

Job Degenaar was RIXT-poet of the month July 2019. You can read his original Dutch poems of that month here. One of them – Girl on her way to the textile mill – is published here in translation.


Foto: Bangladesh Labour Foundation (BLF)


Girl on her way to the textile mill

Some kids never get to be kids
a fact we seemingly concede

for centuries they’ve been used
abused like animals

The world doesn’t stop
when in the early morning

a small girl walks to the factory
to spin the web of her miserly life

unable to extricate herself from it
in vibrant colours

while we on the sunny side of the earth
blindly turn our backs

to the shady sides
like hers

©  Job Degenaar
Translation: Trevor Scarse

Meisje op weg naar de weeffabriek

Sommige kinderen zijn nooit kind
daarin schijnen we te berusten

al eeuwen worden ze gebruikt
misbruikt als dieren

De wereld houdt niet op
als in de vroege morgen

een klein meisje loopt naar de fabriek
om het web van haar armzalig leven

waaruit ze niet ontsnappen kan
kleurrijk in te weven

terwijl wij aan de zonzij van de aarde
verblind de rug toekeren

naar schaduwplekken
als die van haar

© Job Degenaar

Yva Hokwerda – June 2019

Yva Hokwerda is RIXT-poet of the month June 2019.
You can read her original Frisian poems of that month here. One of them – Transcycling – is published here in translation.

Transcycling

Whoever sees me cycling

– winding around Sneek the meadows
and the low-lying hay fields in-between,
everywhere
reading the landscape, shouting “bloody cat!”
at the furtive prowling monsters
which cat ladies
love so dearly, petting them in the evening
after which those pesky pookies
go trawling for chicks in the night –

should know: I don’t cry about that.

Whoever hears me cycling
should know: that’s not me.

On that bike
my handlebars are a silent mouse, my saddle
the chair in front of my desk in the office
unable to make any difference, because
nobody dares to sing,
laughter is stifled,
chitchat becomes muted and
words grey like mice-

On that bike
my distress doesn’t hear birds anymore
as ears ring from the silence
of concrete in carefully filled up
pots and pans, too heavy
from the sewn-on ears
to grasp the enclosed contents.

Whoever sees her cycling

behind my sunglasses
– that I’ve already put on at first rays
against flies, of course –

out of a crooked eight,
along an old field filled with new houses
– pretty detached
in rows and a boat
in the canal in front of the house –

should know: I’m not there.

This is my saddle,
but I still have to get home
– you can’t lie down comfortably on only
one herb-filled bank, lounging in the countryside –

and I haven’t found them yet,
the true stewards, the wise women
the people who really know
what has to be done.

Whoever hears me cycling,
may know, it’s not me

because I’m crying
about the playful hares in the land

and I’m rushing in my search
for the Green Dike.

© Yva Hokwerda
Translation: Trevor Scarse

 

 

Simon Oosting – May 2019

Simon Oosting was RIXT-poet of the month May 2019.
You can read his original Frisian poems of that month here.
One of them – concerning canaries – is published here in translation.

Suckers and stooges

He’s aware of the pattern this leader of the people
as he says what civilisation restrains us from saying
with allusions opening up rusty doors to deep crevasses.
He knows that his people meekly speak of yeah yeah yeah
and thinks he says what they like to hear
and that the others will be surprised and furious and outraged
and will deliberate everywhere and for hours on end.

So, he can say that he hasn’t got the freedom to say
that people can’t hear nor read
that they’re words without context
that he hadn’t known.

Yeah yeah yeah people will nod accordingly.

And the others like suckers and stooges
scattered the seed of the weeds over the land.
Better to grow some strong crops
so that weeds don’t have room to grow
and let that leader sink back into the shadows.

© Simon Oosting
Translation: Trevor Scarse

Sûgen en oksen

Hy wit fan it patroan dizze lieder fan it folk
as er seit wat beskaving ús hjit net te sizzen
mei allúzjes dy’t rustke doarren nei djippe spelonken iepenje.
Dan wit er dat syn folk deemoedich praat fan ja ja ja
en tinkt dat er seit wat se hearre wolle
en dat de oaren ferbjustere en dûm en lilk
wêze sille en oeral en oerenlang petearje.

Dat er dan sizze kin dat er gjin frijheid hat om te sizzen
dat men net harkje en lêze kin
dat it wurden binne sûnder ramt
dat er der net fan witten hat.

Ja ja ja sil men dan wer knikke.

En de oaren as sûgen en oksen
brochten it sied fan it túch oer it lân.
Better bouwe se in sterk gewaaks
dat túch gjin romte jout
en swije se dy lieder yn ‘e lijte.

© Simon Oosting

Gerrit de Vries – April 2019

Gerrit de Vries was RIXT-poet of the month April 2019.
You can read his original Frisian poems of that month here.
One of them – concerning canaries – is published here in translation.

concerning canaries

back then in the coalmine
a cage was hung in the gallery
behind bars sat a canary

carbon monoxide
lack of oxygen
mine gas was a hazard

the miners knew
when the whistling ceased
they could no longer be at ease

grandma had two canaries
Tom and Joy
until one day her tomcat
she fed Tom bird seed

rejoicing he sat sated
on his bar
when both were old
he just fell off

a godwit thrashes
his pecker to bits
looking for food
that no longer is

on the withered green
monotonous wasteland
a fleeing chick is running
out of breath

just pretend
all is fine
a meadow is no coalmine
a godwit ’s no canary

© Gerrit de Vries
Translation: Trevor Scarse

Oer kanarjes

eartiids yn de koalemyn
hong in koaike yn de galerij
siet efter traaljes in kanarje

koalmonokside
tekoart oan soerstof
myngas wie in gefaar

de mynwurkers wisten
as it fluitsjen ophold
dat der wat net doogde

beppe hie twa kanarjes
Piet en Jubel
oant op in dei de boarre
hja fuorre Piet sjongsied

sêd siet er te jubeljen
op syn stôk
doe’t beide âld wienen
foel er dêr ôf

in skries huft him
de snaffel stikken
siket nei iten
dat der net langer is

op de útdrûge grien
monotoane hûngerpôle
draaft in pyk op ‘e flecht
him út de liken

doch mar krekt
as is alles yn oarder
in greide is gjin koalemyn
in skries is gjin kanarje

© Gerrit de Vries

Piter Yedema – April 2018

Piter Yedema (  2018) was RIXT-poet of the month April 2018.
You can read his original Frisian poem of that month here.
It is called ‘Land of birds ‘ and is published here in translation.


Piter Yedema performing 


Land of birds

Most cruel of months is April
A lapwing turns mid-air
far sounds his tweet thin and shrill

Memories and desire are freed
from dead ground a winter long
The poverty of today soon gone

Then resounding loudly her bird song
New life gets the place all to itself
and happily they lived long after

© Piter Yedema
Translation: Trevor Scarse

Fûgeltsjelân

Wreedste moanne is April
Oer de wjuk giet in âldhij
fier klinkt syn twiit tin en skril

Oantins en ferlangen komme frij
út deade grûn in winter lang
De earmoed langer skylk foarby

Doe klonk folút har fûgelsang
Nij libben krijt it ryk allinne
en lokkich libje se noch lang

© Piter Yedema

Janneke Spoelstra – February 2019

Janneke Spoelstra was RIXT-poet of the month February 2019.
You can read her original Frisian poems of that month here.
One of them – Fantastic Plastic – is published here.

Fantastic Plastic

I learned the power of plastic at a young age:
I was once with my mum
visiting nan and gramps for tea
and my nan gave us tea and biscuit.

It was a lovely get-together, until
gramps tried to crumple up
the plastic cookie container
now standing empty on the table.

His old worker’s hands could only
compress it a little, but as soon as he let go
it would spring back, with only minor
creases, into its original form
on the plush table cloth.

Gramps glared at it in disgust
and tried anew. Again, his wrinkly hands
got a hold of the glossy container.

He squeezed and squeezed, red-blue veins
popped up from the effort. Mum and nan
and I held our breath. Until finally
my mum said: ‘That doesn’t seem to work.’
The way gramps looked at her…

and even though it was only about 1970
and gramps liked his daughter in law,
everything was already, as I think about it now,
contained in this episode: our struggle
with the plastic soup in the oceans, the project
of Boyan Slat, MSC Zoe’s containers
in our seas, the poems on www.rixt.frl
and even the themed edition of Iepen Up,
like Obe Postma said: ‘everything lies in everything’
… but my mum was right. Letting go of the
container it stayed the same. Unflinchingly,
it gloated at us from the table.

‘I’m Fantastic Plastic,’ it shouted,
‘and indestructible!’

© Janneke Spoelstra
Translation: Trevor Scarse


Fantastic Plastic

De krêft fan plestik learde ik al jong kennen:
sa wie ik in kear mei ús mem
by pake en beppe te teedrinken
en beppe joech ús in koekje by de tee.

It wie gesellich sa mei-inoar, oant
pake it plestik bakje, dêr’t de koekjes
út kamen, en dat leech op ’e tafel
stie, byinoar frommelje woe.

Syn âlde wrottershannen krigen it bakje
wol wat yninoar, mar sagau’t se los lieten,
sprong it, mei heechút wat falske tearen,
wer yn ’e oarspronklike foarm
op it plusen taffelskleed werom.

Pake seach der mispriizgjend nei
en besocht it op ’e nij. Wer griepen
de ronfelige hannen nei it glinsterjende bakje.

Hy kniep en kniep, de readblauwige ieren
op ’e hannen setten derfan op. Beppe en mem
en ik holden de siken yn. Oant op ’t lêst
ús mem sei: ‘No, dat slagget echt net, hear.’
Hoe’t pake doe nei har seach…

en hoewol’t it noch mar om ende by 1970
wie en pake goed mei syn skoandochter koe,
it lei, as ik der no oan weromtink,
der allegear al yn besletten: ús wrakseljen mei
plastic soup/sop yn ’e oseänen, it wurkstik
fan Boyan Slat, MSC Zoe har konteners yn
ús seeën, de fersen op www.rixt.frl
en sels de tema-edysje fan Iepen Up,
sa’t Obe Postma al sei: ‘alles is yn alles’
… mar ús mem hie gelyk. Loslitten wie it bakje
noch hieltyd in bakje. It gniisde ús fan
de tafel ûnferwoestber oan.

‘Ik bin Fantastic Plastic,’ rôp it,
‘en net stikken te krijen!’

© Janneke Spoelstra