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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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!’
Hein Jaap Hilarides was RIXT-poet of the month January 2019.
You can read his poems of that month, written in the Bildts language, here.
An English translation of one of these poems will be available soon.