Step by step

A new poem by Yttje Cnossen, written in English.

Step by step

boots carefully chosen boots
black ones with grey layers
and chocolate bridges over bright soles

secret leather hidden under black cuffs
black ones decorated with a shiny cherry dot
and brown boots steady on black soles

boots of a cloudy grey material
watching over a striped surface
and out of the blue some non matching laces

sea clouds vanish slowly in the skies
while we are roaming westward
walking the South Downs way

© Yttje Cnossen

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.

Elmar Kuiper selected for Transpoesie in Bruxelles

A jury of the Frisian Writers Association has chosen RIXT-poet Elmar Kuiper to represent the Frisian language at the ninth edition of Transpoesie, an European poetry festival in Bruxelles. Kuiper will perform on September 16, at the Day of the Languages, one of the events organized by the festival in the period September-October. The annual festival is organized by the EUNIC, the network of European Union National Institutes for Culture.

Elmar Kuiper was selected by the Frisian jury because of his poem Myn lân (‘My land’). Last year Janneke Spoelstra, also connected to RIXT, was the first poet to represent Friesland in Bruxelles.

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

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

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.

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


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

Four Frisan poets on tour in Denmark

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

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
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
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