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.
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.
Photo: Pieter Postma
From March 11-17, the RIXT-poets Cornelis van der Wal, Elmar Kuiper, Syds Wiersma, and Geart Tigchelaar stayed in the Danish city of Aarhus. They wrote a series of poems there, had a few performances, and participated in a translation session with Danish poets. Besides Aarhus, the Frisian poets had also a performance in the Poesiens Hus in Copenhagen. In 2020 a bilingual collection of Danish and Frisian poems will be presented at the LiteratureXchange Festival in Aarhus. It will be published by Hispel, the Frisian publishing house to which these poets are connected.
The Frisian poets, for this occasion calling themselves The Red Runes (Reade Runen; after a famous Frisian poetry book by Ella Wassenaer published in 1959), were invited to Aarhus by the Danish prose poet Carsten René Nielsen. He visited the Frisian capital Leeuwarden in 2018 and decided together with Geart Tigchelaar that it might be interesting to initiate an exchange project between Danish and Frisian poets. The stay in Aarhus was a first step, the collection of Danish and Frisian poems and the presence of the Frisian poets at the LiteratureXchange Festival next year, is an important next event.
Read more here
For a photo impression of the tour , see the facebook page of The Red Runes / Reade Runen
Cornelis van der Wal, Poesiens Hus, Copenhagen
The Other Words Literature project was put forward by Donostia Kultura and San Sebastian in 2016. It is a partnership programme between cultural organisations in European regions, which aims to establish a network of creative placements for European writers in small and minority languages. Participating regions from 2015-2019 were: The Basque Country, Friesland, Slovenia, North Macedonia, and Ireland.
During the project the RIXT-poets André Looijenga, Gerard Marcel de Jong, and Hein Jaap Hilarides were selected by a Frisian jury to write a creation work abroad. André was in Bitola in 2016 (North Macedonia), Gerard in Donostia/San Sebastian in 2017 (The Basque Country), and Hein Jaap in Maribor (Slovenia) in 2017. None of the three worked on poetry during their stay.
The works of prose they created at the mentioned places can be read here.
André Looijenga: The train to Monastir
Gerard Marcel de Jong: Footsteps in the clay
Hein Jaap Hilarides: Blind horse
Other participating Frisian writers were Bart Kingma, Karen Bies, and Jan Menno Rozendal
The organization is working on a continuation of the exchange project in the next years.
‘In 2018, Leeuwarden and Valletta (the capital city of Malta) were the European City of Culture. Leeuwarden and the Bildt region have had ties with Malta since as far back as around 1850. Every year, the first potatoes are shipped from the Bildt to Malta around the end of September and the new potatoes – grown from the seedlings – find their way back the same way the following March. Malta and Friesland are also officially dual language and have a wealth of modern and classic poetry, all of which has resulted in a literary poetry project: an exchange of Frisian and Maltese poems.’ (http://www.bildtseaardappelweken.nl/english)
During a period of four years, poems were shipped with potato bags from Friesland to Malta, and vice versa. Finally the poems written for the project were included in a quadrilingual publication of poems from Friesland and Malta (Frisian, Maltese, Dutch, and English): Poetic potatoes. Poetry in potato bags (2018). Frisian and Maltese poets had exchange meetings in Friesland and Malta, and performed together at different occasions. Several RIXT-poets contributed to the project.
Poetry in Potato Bags
Read here the potato poem written by Yva Hokwerda.
Poetic Potatoes project was part of the Bildt Potato Weeks 2018, which was included in the Leeuwarden/Fryslân European City of Culture 2018 programme under the name ‘Potatoes go Wild’. The idea behind the programme was, that the city meets the countryside and the countryside goes to the city.