All the same

At the poetry festival Transpoesie in Brussels, in September 2019, Elmar Kuiper was this year’s Frisian poet who was invited to read from his work. During his stay he wrote a prose poem about one of his nightly walks through the city.

Photo: Elmar Kuiper

All the same

At the end of a literary evening in Brussels, I drank a Kaapse Pracht with a South African, whom I, miraculously, was able to understand. “A Frisian has a cruel tongue” I proclaimed and ducked out, staggered across a broken-up street and heard a load of sharp s’s and the hard g of an Arab shouting at me even at this late hour. I looked nervously around me and hurriedly crossed the intersection. Near the Holiday Inn our eyes met each other. She sat bolt upright, on a piece of bubble wrap, in the doorway of a restaurant and had wavy hair and dirty cheeks. Wrapped up in a drab blanket she looked me up and down. The white of her eyes became a puddle in which I almost drowned. “Help me, sir,” she whispered, soft as a summer rain, and I reached, generously minded, into my pocket and folded my wallet open, yet not even a penny rolled out of it. “These are hard times for poets as well,” I snapped, as if it was nothing, but she didn’t say anything and just shook her head.

© Elmar Kuiper
Translation: Trevor M. Scarse


Next Sunday there is a presentation of Unlân, the debut collection of poetry by Gerrit de Vries.  ‘Oyster’, the poem below, is a pre-publication. More information about the presentation, you find here


in the end there is only one question
can you live with yourself or not

like an oyster
naked on a tray
I lie before you
you may
cut the pearls
out of my body
but please
no lemon
no salt

Translation: Trevor M. Scarse



úteinlik is der mar ien fraach
ast mei dysels wol libje kinst

as in oester
neaken op in skaaltsje
lis ik hjir foar dy
meist my
de pearels wol
út de bealch snije
mar asjeblyft
gjin sitroen
gjin sâlt

© Gerrit de Vries
Ûnlân (Hispel, 2019)

kentish plovers in Florence

An unpublished poem by Jan Kooistra, translated by the author himself.

kentish plovers in Florence

the day transcends
the dawn
the city with eternal splendour
sighs as always
in the warm valley
the Porta Romana is wide open
thousands flock
through oppressively dark streets
heading to lighter squares

the body needs cooling
but the mind escapes
walks along the icy sea
sees plovers running proudly
feels her hand
sleeps with her on a single pillow

night is falling
a roaming man
heading to the valley
his visions crystal clear
of the cypresses
merely the contours


dûkelmantsjes yn Firenze

de dei giet
de dage te boppe
de stêd mei syn ivige pracht
suchtet as alear
yn ‘e waarme fallei
de Porta Romana stiet wagewiid iepen
tûzenen kringe har troch
neare donkere strjitten
op nei ljochtere pleinen

it liif moat ferkuolling
mar de geast ûntkomt
rint lâns de iiskâlde see
sjocht parmantich rinnende
fielt har hân
sliept mei har op ien kessen

de jûn falt
in doarmjende man
op wei nei de delling
messkerp syn bylden
fan de sipressen
allinnich de kontoeren

© Jan Kooistra

Oan the wey tae

In April 2019, Geart Tigchelaar travelled on his bike to the Soutar Festival of Words in Perth, Scotland. William Soutar, to whom the festival is dedicated, was a poet who published in English and Scottish. He was born in 1898 and died in 1943. From his twenties, Soutar was bedridden because of the Bechterew disease. On the occasion of his bike trip and as a tribute to Soutar’s life and poetry, Tigchelaar wrote a poem. His Scottish colleague Daibhidh Eyre, together with whom Tigchelaar had a performance at the festival, translated the poem into Scottish.

oan the wey tae

the farrest ye’ll gae in fellaship
o yirsel
wi the true boun mates
hings to hink oan an fantasy
aw the days oot the door
oan the soonds trouch the apen windae
wi weel-kent reek
aa afore tae be lived the day
A cycle by him anew
oan a bed in a chamber
fir richt reason o thoan greater
nor A fir whom the warld
lies apen
tire-baunds straik flochty
ower unkent pads
as the dingit pen
ower unscreivit
fell o paper

Translation: Daibhidh Eyre

op wei nei

it fierst giet men yn selskip
fan jinsels
mei de trouwe bûnsmaten
oantinkens en fantasije
alle dagen de doar út
op ‘e lûden troch iepen finster
mei bekende rook
fan alear is de belibbing
op ‘e nij fyts ik oan him foarby
op in bêd yn in keamer
krekt om dy reden grutter
as ik foar wa’t de wrâld
iepen leit
bannen streekje flugger
oer ûnbekende paden
as de pinne omdoch
oer ûnbeskreaun
fel papier

 © Geart Tigchelaar


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