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.

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 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: 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

RIXT poet Syds Wiersma travels through Ireland for four months

Photo: Syds Wiersma

Syds Wiersma was travelling through Ireland last summer for two months, working there on a new poetry collection. His travel and work was subsidised by the Dutch Fund for Literature. In April-May 2020 Wiersma intended to do the second part of his travel, through Northern Ireland. Unfortunately this was postponed by the corona crisis.

One of Wiersma’s stays last summer was in Galway, which is one of the two cultural capitals of Europe in 2020. 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. Here again corona was a spoiler.

Since Wiersma intends to write about meeting people, places, spaces, and time, he chose alternative ways of travelling: hitchhiking, walking, cycling, and if necessary public transport. About his experiences he wrote a few travel stories for the Frisian literary magazine Ensafh.

You can find the links to the five stories here:

Thoor Ballylee
Brandon Creek
Galway (1)
Galway (2)

An Evening of Prose Poetry

Last October 24th there was a sociable gathering in café De Basuin in Leeuwarden. As the Danish poet Carsten René Nielsen was staying in Groningen for six weeks to write new material and to translate work by Nyk de Vries, amongst others, RIXT invited him for a performance. Nielsen is a prose poet pur sang, so the evening was centred around that genre. Because of that, our own prose poet Nyk de Vries was invited as well.

The varying occasional formation Reade Runen – consisting of Elmar Kuiper, Cornelis van der Wal, Syds Wiersma and Geart Tigchelaar – which has a connection with Denmark as they were there last April and are busy gathering and translating a collection of Frisian-Danish poetry, performed as well. As said, the composition of the formation varies and Hein Jaap Hilarides replaced Tigchelaar for the evening, as Tigchelaar was hosting the evening.

Tigchelaar started the evening by asking the audience if they were familiar with the term prose poem. Only a couple raised their hands shyly. So, Tigchelaar hoped that the rest of the audience would be familiar with the genre as well by the end of the evening.

Hein Jaap Hilarides

Hilarides was the first to perform with verses in Biltsk and even a few in English to allay Nielsen. However, it has to be said that Nielsen is learning Dutch and understands a fair amount of the language already.

Nyk de Vries

De Vries was able to showcase his prose poetry, utilising music and images alternately in his performance. Thus, his set had a more multimedia approach. His performance was superb and it added some variety to the evening as well.

Syds Wiersma

Syds Wiersma travelled through Ireland during the summer, so he poured all his experiences and meetings over there into the mould of prose poetry. Full of narrative and with a rich language he took the audience with him on his travels.

Carsten René Nielsen had made a vibrant selection of his poems from his latest collection Enogfyrre tin (Forty-one things) and Tigchelaar read translations of them in both Dutch and Frisian. Some members of the audience were able to understand Danish, so Nielsen was pleasantly surprised when some laughed along during his original language performance.

Elmar Kuiper

After the break it was Elmar Kuiper’s turn who was in high spirits and in-between his poems he told some vivid tales about his expeditions as a young boy with his dad, a cattle photographer.

Nyk de Vries

Next up was return performance by De Vries. He took us along with him to an interview he and others from the Blauwe Fedde literary magazine had had with the Frisian author Rink van der Velde, we sat with him atop a crane in LA, and the next moment in the clubhouse in Harkema. Nielsen added that in his view the Frisian word for clubhouse, ‘kluphûs’, only has a good translation in the Danish ‘forsamlingshus’. According to Nielsen, no other language comes close to the full width of the meaning in Frisian.

Cornelis van der Wal

Following this, Cornelis van der Wal read four translations of prose poems by Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Revérdy. The last poet is less famous than the others, and Van der Wal had to concede that he himself hadn’t heard of him before either. Van der Wal had translated the poems superbly and the somewhat raw verses accorded well with his own distinctive style of performance.

That the French invented prose poetry can be asserted as fact comfortably. Which was a nice bridge for Nielsen to step in after Tigchelaar asked him to explain to the audience what exactly a prose poem is. It all started in France, but today the genre is mostly practiced in the United States and Canada, not so much in Europe (anymore).

Prose poetry is closely linked to so-called flash fiction. A prose poem often uses narrative as well and is a short form of prose, but it is more poetic in language and more concise. Nielsen would categorise some of the poems in the collections of De Vries as short prose, but Nielsen concludes that the best identifying mark of a prose poem as a prose poem is the author’s own identification of it as such. The covers of De Vries’s collections state that they are prose poems, and thus they are prose poems, according to Nielsen, because this provides a framework for the reader.

No one in the room could add to that, so Tigchelaar thanked the poet collective RIXT and Boeken fan Fryslân in particular for the (financial) support and ended the official proceedings. This allowed everyone in the cosy De Basuin to drink one more with the poets.

The Arch

This year in March poet Geart Tigchelaar cycled from Fryslân to the Soutar Festival of Words in Perth, where he had a reading with Scots poet David Eyre about the relation between Frisian and Scots on the basis of Tigchelaar his work. Eyre is currently working on a translation of Tigchelaar his debut collection of poetry leech hert yn nij jek [empty heart in new jacket] (Hispel 2016) to Scots.
Tigchelaar had an anthology of Soutars poems in his pannier. The poet also packed his camera, so he gave himself the assignment to make a photograph each day, which suited a poem or a fragment of a poem and posted them on the social media. The organisation from StAnza Festival in St Andrews (where Tigchelaar has performed in 2018) really liked the initiative and bundled the photos and poems in an e-book.

Tigchelaar has also written a poem, inspired by the life and work of William Soutar, which was translated by Eyre in Scots and published here.

Geart Tigchelaar at the Soutar Festival of Words in Perth

Poet Geart Tigchelaar has performed at the international poetry festival StAnza in St. Andrews, Scotland, last year. There he met the Scottish poet David Eyre, who was intrigued by the similarities between Frisian and Scots. As a result, he has started with the translation of Tigchelaar’s work. Eyre was asked to talk at the Soutar Festival of Words about the relationship between Scots and Frisian with the poetry of Tigchelaar as an example. The festival organisation invited Tigchelaar to Perth to accompany and strengthen this presentation. A talk about multilingual poetry suited the festival, as William Soutar, whom the festival is named after, wrote in both Scots and English.

On the 28th of April, the room was not crowded, but the people who did attend were greatly interested. That Sunday afternoon it became much more a conversation with the audience than a poetry recital with a talk afterwards. The audience was not only interested in both Scots and Frisian, but also in the distinct similarities between the two languages (see the poem below). Scots is often seen as poorly pronounced English, but Eyre made clear that this is far from true. His aim is to point towards the relationship with Frisian and transfer that Scots is just a variant of the broad Germanic language family. Frisian is regularly described as melodic, also by people who do not know the language. This afternoon in Perth it was noted that both languages share this melodious ring to it.

Eyre plans to continue translating Tigchelaar’s collection of poetry leech hert yn nij jek and hopes to find a publisher in due time.

The poem below is first written in Scots by David Eyre at the StAnza Festival and then translated with the support of Tigchelaar.


For how sad Ah no daur it?
Ah hae a mammietung
an that tung has a freen.
Lee me gang ther, tae her feastmeal
fu wurdies waarm an licht,
an lee me eat ma full.
Ma tung isna sweir
nae band oer ma mou –
her wurdies smak sae guid tae me.
Saut fae ilka sea has worth.



Wêrom soe ik it net doare?
Ik ha in memmetaal
en dy taal hat in freon.
Lit my gean dêre, oan har feestmiel
fan wurden waarm en licht,
en lit my my fol ite.
Myn tonge is net swier
gjin bân oer myn mûle –
har wurden smeitsje my goed.
Sâlt fan elke see hat wearde.

Sytse Jansma in Oslo

As a result of the international festival for literature in Kenya (Kistrech) in 2018, Sytse Jansma established contacts with several Norwegian and Swedish poets.

In April 2019, a weekend was organized in Oslo, where six poets from these countries gathered. Gigs were organized, discussions were held with magazine publishers, discussion evenings were held, and further networks were expanded. All in all an interesting cultural exchange that will be continued, probably in Gothenburg, Sweden.

In Oslo there was also a performance in Cappelens Forslag, a bookshop in the city centre. On the photo the Dutch poet Frank Keizer reading his poetry.