amongst books

amongst books

Saturday, March 09, 2013

VERSeFest: My Must Sees # 2


Sunday, March 17, 2013, 8pm

Must See # 2: Hélène Gelèns & Erik Lindner

I am intrigued by what I have read so far of the poetry of Dutch poet Hélène Gelèns. of course, I don't speak Dutch, so I've had to rely on translations, but these translations sound very exotic to me, very imagistic with refreshing turns of phrase that make you think thrice. take a look at "What Frays and Blossoms" from the book "zet af en zweef" (Take off and Float) published by Uitgeverij Cossee. The poem was translated by Willem Groenewegen. another of her poems is translated as "Poem for Two Voices and A Clock." You can see why I'm intrigued.

There's something outlandish & lavish about translations into English. it's as if the curtain between realities has been dropped. The poems of Erik Lindner, at least their translations, the ones I managed to find by googling, seem to be understated & simple, but not simplistic, simply micromovents of the world as depicted as ordinary. a cloth falls off a table. a drawer holds crumbs & paper clips. the language of the English translations seem so very formal, distant. cool observation. yet the camera focuses on what is important to the poem's speaker.

A fly walks from the edge/to the centre of the table top/and back again, follows a few centimetres/of the side, enters the emptiness/of the pale white again…" from "REASON" but of course this is a poem from 1996, from Tramontane. so not necessarily reflective of his current work. you can read some English translations of Lindner's poetry from that era but also from 2004 here.

&  I leave you with the words of our own brilliant beauty David O'Meara who seems to be painted into most poetic landscapes these days:

"The pivot on which these observations rest is his masterful use of the image, which abound in his shifting lines, as they casually appear and are taken note of by the poem’s gaze. Coupled with his supple handling of language, this lyric approach makes for a haunting, memorable poetry." David O’Meara

the fact that the festival is showcasing Dutch, Irish & Australian poets, most of whom we would rarely be able to see here (Baker, Lindner & Tredinnick have been here before through the A B Series, the Ottawa International Writers Festival & the Tree Reading Series respectively) is pretty damn fantastic. 

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