Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Less busy day for me. Translate one more Rosen poem, then go on a jaunt with Piotr Sommer to the art gallery partly to see Van Megheren, the forger of Vermeer, about whom Derek Mahon wrote an excellent poem, but also Piranesi and Hals and Boucher and Magritte etc, and thence to the grandly gesturing Erasmus Bridge. Warm, close, as if expecting rain, but no rain. Turns out Piotr and I are much the same age and have been married almost equally long - he for 37 years, I for 38.
Two evening events: at 8pm the Dunya Mikhaels / Brian Turner reading with interviews first, something like a Star Chamber at the Hague with Turner on trial for war crimes. (That's before even considering his poetry - in fact the poetry is not much considered). All things considered, he turns in a very punchy performance once he reads (in one surreal moment I see him as leading the GI chorus in Christina Aguilera's version of Candyman) as indeed he probably has to. Musical interludes. Dunya M reads in Arabic with English translation running behind her. The poems are translucent, simple, delicately constructed. War poetry woven into the human frame.
At 9.30 another event - a homage to Jan Eijkelboom, in Dutch of course, with some film and contributions from readers and scholars and another musical interlude, with Brian Turner and Maura Dooley reading a poem each from Yeats, Eijkelboom having been Yeats's translator (Politics and Sailing to Byzantium respectively). Of course I - and the other non-Dutch poets who attend understand nothing but it is courtesy to attend. Courtesy makes the world go round. I prefer it when it is going round.
Yasuhiro is here too with charming Japanese professor and translator friend. Apparently the piece I wrote about the future of poetry for Romania last year, that he published in a magazine in his own Japanese translation, has been featured in various places and raised some comment, even in the communist daily paper. It is unusual to argue that poetry has a future. So I argue it has a future. To argue it has no future is to argue that breathing has no future. I propose that breathing has a future.