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VERSeFest: Dutch Showcase

Anita Dolman
And back to the VERSeFest stage. Anita Dolman reading her poems. One of these was around the legacy of the past. For example, shoes that will never fit due to childhood war and being bound into too small shoes. The misshapen small-toe-details will never fit the post-war world.

above/ground had a new chapbook which was launched as part of the event: Two Dutch Poets: Hélène Gelèns and Erik Lindner, translated by Anita Dolman.

David O'Meara & Erik Lindner
David O’Meara and Erik Lindner alternated reading in English and in Dutch.

I’d hoped we’d get to hear poetry in other languages again. How to present it, solely in another language or both, the original first, or first for sound and second for meaning. I’d rather hear the sound and intonation first. Or exclusively. I suppose tho, the mind would tire of floating to not get any semantic except what breaks through as similar words.

Erik Lindner
In one poem there was a different painterly quality, more El Greco crossed with Emily Carr (is that shelter or claustrophobia?) when he read “a man eats an apple in the park and the trees crowd around.”

His landscape is pastoral, rivers and pastures and edges of peopled areas populated by docks and rivers, horses and statues. In one poem he asked, What is it to be male? To scape a blade against an unshaven throat.. The violence that starts in the thought turns to cleanliness at the last moment.

From Island‘s last third, a dream sequence of images,

Say thank you, damn it, and please
and every friendly request, friendly.

I came calling, pounded on the door
and shouted her name repeated,y.

Then by the window appears a
woman.
My mother.
She says: I am your mother.
Do not dwell, all ships that have been burned.

And memories of a mother alive again in dream, as mothers have a habit of doing. Still, in Island as translated by Dolman, it ends well. Onwards then.

Stephen Brockwell
Hélène Gelèns
For one piece she read for two voices, literally high and low text.

You can hear her poem for the clock/klok:

Hélène Gelèns
Here reading from zet af en zweef (the book turnoff and float, according to Google translations). It is more about tension to existential binds, things that don’t add up, and refusing to fudge to make them neatly tally. It is a trick to allow chaos to run with control without leashing randomness so that it loses its personality.

In one she micro-studies the act of walking, as if in a meditation slow walking, watching her feet, mid-floor and tumble of thoughts. are you afraid to look? realize what you are trying and you are trying to trust? The thoughts are fragmentary and yet more pointillism than without point.

There’s a sample poem you can see here by Hélène Gelèns. The way the language zigzags reminds me of Merz. Here’s a bit of hers:

do we storm onto the square? do we wave our arms wildly?
we scream away! away from the tree! we point upwards
glass! we chase the businessman zigzag zigzag away
a cyclist a stray kid a map-reading couple away!
beer-drinker caller tourist away! we bump we shove
we drag the guffawing teen zigzagzigzag away

shall we keep doing what we’re doing? formulating arguments
shall we look for support in lines within our sight

If it didn’t once she said “do we storm onto the square?” I’d stll have gone to the “man just standing there” in the square of Schwitters. Google books has the full text (in Kurt Schwitters: A Portrait from Life) of Causes and Outbreak of the Great and Glorious Revolution in Revon, one of my favorite pieces.

AB Series is having Colin Morton as a feature April 3, who wrote the Merzbook. April 3-5 the GCTC is putting on MERZ, the one man performance of Kurt Schwitters‘ sound poetry that we we saw a few years ago. They have posted the Sneeze poem, (although it loses something by being called out in isolation since inside the performance it walks a grey area where you’re not sure if its performance or performance interrupted). Go if you can. It’s a poetry show that still comes into my everyday 6 years later.

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