Translation showcase

In this final blog post about StAnza I’m going more in depth about curious things we ran into translating each other’s work. As an example I picked out one poem, that is Selkie by Rachel Plummer. The others participating in the Showcase were Stewart Sanderson, Sigrid Kingma, Robin MacKenzie and Tsead Bruinja.

First of all, here is the original and the Frisian translation:

Selkie

‘Selkie’

The first thing we ran into was the title. Most people in Scotland know what a ‘selkie’ is, but we don’t have such a mythological figure in Fryslân or The Netherlands. A selkie is a seal who can shed her skin when she comes onto land and can transform to a woman. In principle she can put it on again to submerge under water. The tale goes that a man hides her skin, so she is forced to stay with him. The poem draws inspiration from this mythical creature as it is written for a project combining LGBT-issues with Scots folktales and myths. The Selkie then is a perfect transgender reference.
To come back to the title itself. I chose to keep the typical ‘selkie’, knowing that it would have to be introduced in Fryslân either way. I did changed the ‘ie’ into ‘y’, since every word with that corresponding sound ends in an ‘y’ in Frisian. Like ‘taksy’ (‘taxi’) or ‘anty’ (‘anti’).

‘The secret me is a boy.’

I translated the first line into ‘De geheime ik is in jonge’. Very literal, but it is a bit forced in Frisian. We came up with ‘Stikem bin ik in jonge’. Sounds good, but a bit off compared to the original. ‘Stikem’ is more ‘on the sly’, thus not completely what is meant here. We had to have that ‘secret’ in, which is ‘geheim’. But then we had an explicit ‘I’ (= ‘ik’) in the translation and not in the original. We had to have the third person singular in it and therefore we chose for the comma at the end of the sentence and then beginning the second line with ‘dy’t’ which is referring back to ‘in jonge’ (‘a boy’). After that we could easily use ‘hy’ ‘er’ (‘he’ when it’s net stressed) and ‘him’ and we would be back to the third person singular. The problem could thus be solved in a very natural way.

‘the big fish’

Swimming with the big fish is a figure of speech in English. Not in Frisian. But the English expression is well known in our region. When a reader wouldn’t know it, the meaning in Frisian is still the same. That he/she wants to be part of it all, but in all its frailty is different, ‘he swaggers / like a mermaid’. So we could keep this beautiful line without it losing meaning in Frisian.

‘He’s whiskered’

Doing a translation sometimes plays tricks on you: you are thinking too hard and you’ll miss the obvious solution. At first I translated ‘He’s whiskered’ into ‘Hy hat burdgroei’. You have the facial hair, but not the meaning that he has whiskers as a seal. Tsead cleverly came up with the most evident solution of using ‘snorhier’ which means both ‘whiskers’ as ‘having a moustache’. Beauty in its simplicity.

‘Thick-skinned / Quick-finned’

The doublet ‘Thick-skinned / Quick-finned’ couldn’t be translated straightforwardly. ‘Thick-skinned’ became easily ‘Tsjokhûdich’, but ‘Fluchfinnich’ would be very artificial. I lost the rhyme, but I hope I gained something with the alliteration. The indefinite article ‘in’ is assimilated when you would read it aloud, so the rhythm would remain.

‘always turning tail’

The line ‘always turning tail’ is ingenious because of its double meaning. By just translating it with ‘sturtswaaiend’ or ‘swaait mei de sturt’ would only have the literal meaning of the sort of flapping motion the tail does. Sigrid came up with the even inventive ‘sturtswyljend’ which has a second figurative meaning to it: to do the last bits and pieces of ones work, to do some last things. So the word has the movement in and a deeper meaning of getting done and out and be out of the way.

‘Rough-voiced / Black-eyed’

Then on to the last one. Another doublet: ‘Rough-voiced / Black-eyed’. The ‘-ed’ couldn’t be translated like that without sounding forced. But the black eyes were interesting. Having a blue eye in Frisian has the same figurative meaning as in English, it means that someone has punched you in the face. Of course, seals have black eyes, not blue ones. That’s a little freedom we took here, since we thought the figure of speech was equally important, not to say more important.

 

This blog may be quite different from my regular travelling blogs, but I hope I could take you on a different journey in the world of languages. I hope I have showed you what great puzzles there can be with words, meanings and sounds when you translate. And of course, how much fun these puzzles are when you have found a way to lay all the pieces together.

 

 

Advertisements

StAnza – St Andrews: Fourth and fifth day

Have I already mentioned that StAnza 2018 was the best poetry festival I ever went to? But then again, it was my first…

“A poet is always dissappointed. It’s the essence of life.”
– Maud Vanhauwaert

On Saturday it rained all day, but we didn’t care about that, since we were tucked up in this lovely and warm Scots house. The thing was that Sigrid Kingma, another Frisian poet, and I were collaborating with two Scots poets, Rachel Plummer and Stewart Sanderson, to translate two of each other’s poems. We already made drafts back home, but now we had a chance to talk about it and ask each other questions. We dived into each other’s work, trying to get the meaning behind every sound, every sentence break and point. Then it goes further than just a close read. Every nuance has to be right, but still it has to sound good in Frisian as well. You want it to be so natural, that the reader has the idea that he is not holding a translation in his hands.
We had the Frisian-Dutch poet Tsead Bruinja and Robin Mackenzie with us to guide the process, but moreover to think with us. Later on this week I would like to go more into detail about that process on the basis of one or two poems. During a venue on Sunday we read the original poem and the translator would read the translation and talk about some matters he/she ran into, that could either be a difficulty or an interesting component. Actually are those two things one and the same. The audience had the poems on a print-out, so they could read along or come with questions or even suggestions.

 

I work as a translator, but that is merely prose. I did some poetry once, but not all that much. Last year I sat with the Danish poet Carsten René Nielsen in his apartment to translate some of my poems into Danish just before I had to go on stage with it. That was the first time to collaborate and to talk about your work neatly and precisely to get the translation as smooth as possible. Working with another language makes you really think about the work you’ve written in your own language. It’s fun to work with different languages you have some basic skill in yourself, as you expand your vocabulary at the same time.

“If someone doesn’t like it, they can translate it themselves.”
– Henri-Paul Campbell

To stay at the translation theme I’ll say something about a panel discussion I went to with the already mentioned poet Tsead Bruinja, the Flemish poet Maud Vanhauwaert, the American-German poet Paul-Henri Campbell and a publisher of translations (I’m sorry I didn’t write her name down, and I couldn’t find hers on the website either). After each poet said something about their poem and the English version, there followed a “regular mud-slinging about translations”. It goes too far to state everything that has been said, so I’ll expand on one thing. Paul-Henri asked the other poets whether if the translator should be a poet himself. Tsead answered that David Colmer, who translated for him and Maud, is a novelist, but what makes him translate poetry well, or any translator, is the feeling for musicality and rhythm. Every poet on the panel, but I guess every other poet and readers of poetry, can agree that how a poem sounds is equally important as the meaning of the words themselves. As Tsead put it very nicely: “There is a story in the music of the poem.” The hostess took that even a step further by stating that “sounds are forcing a meaning into the poem”.

“Translators are not slaves of the author.”
– Maud Vanhauwaert

And I was sometimes lost in translation in the poetry culture at StAnza. As I’ve written in my previous blog, a poet was told after his performance that everybody should feel comfortable, not awkward and especially not insulted. This notion was at times strange for me for example, Andy Fierens read his mommies and daddies and daddies, which sketches the abundance of love that some people have so they’ll share it with someone else. The poem was on the edge of humour and seriousness, and contained no moral judgement: that was left open for the audience. It was obvious too that because of this openness, the audience interpreted the poem in different ways. While I thought it was an nice way to discuss societal issues, a guy behind me asked his girlfriend whether the poem was promoting adultery. Andy even got told he shouldn’t read that poem anymore. For me this difference of what should and shouldn’t be read is more open, as I prefer edgy, rough poetry where the poet him/herself can set the limits. So coming to a place where poets were corrected for content was curious. What does such a setting do to the language and message of poetry?

“Jazz comes from America, so that’s why Al Qaida gets my vote.”
– Andy Fierens

To go back to the musicality within poetry, I want to say something about the slam poetry contest. Believe it or not, it was actually my very first one I went to. To be frank, it’s not completely my cup of tea (as I’ve expected), but I enjoyed myself nonetheless. Andy Fierens was the mc and was that in an enthusiastic, but not in a too exaggerated way, which I found good. The fact that there was a wide range of age, style, quality I found great as well. And I agreed on the winner, Jo Gilbert, although I wouldn’t have mind if Emily Elderfield had won. The one had a more absurd humour, where the other was serious.

When Eleanor Livingstone and Annie Rutherford asked me to have a seat in the plenary wrap-up of the festival I immediately said yes. Not because of the money but I agreed upon the fact that as the Guest Blogger my input couldn’t be missed. Later on I regretted it a bit, because I don’t see myself as super talkative. But I managed without saying something stupid and I have had moments I trampled more over my words. How much more comfortable it is to lose oneself in a poem and the fact that you can hide a little behind a piece of paper.

This isn’t the last blog post about the festival, like I said. But I do want to thank Eleanor and Annie and everybody at StAnza for everything. All went smoothly and the communication was sublime. The accommodation and the bike were perfect. Now I would like to give a couple of people the floor to say what they think of StAnza.

Light up the darkness

This time no report about what I did, experienced or whatsoever. There is coming a blog post about yesterday and today, don’t worry. But that will come tomorrow or the day after. It gives me a bit more time to reflect and for the writing itself. And for once my mother-in-law doesn’t have to check my English. Its at the end Sunday, right.

But what I do want to do, is to show you St Andrews through my eyes. Not in a too touristic kind of way. I searched for a different perspective. It was a nice oppertunity to play with my camera. It’s a rather new hobby to me, so I grab every chance I get to further explore photography. But my goal was still yo show you the characteristics of St Andrews. I hope I succeeded in that. And if I would have to give this series of photographs a name, it would be ‘Light up the darkness’.

P1040778P1040802P1050025P1050040P1050109P1050114P1050122P1050129P1050222P1050230P1050250P1050254P1050256P1050257P1050301P1050306P1050307P1050309P1050311P1050320P1050321P1050322P1050325P1050326P1050327P1050328P1050331P1050333P1050336P1050339P1050340P1050342P1050343P1050344P1050352P1050355P1050356P1050357P1050363P1050368P1050370P1050371P1050373P1050375P1050376P1050379P1050380P1050382P1050383P1050385P1050532P1050535P1050536P1050537P1050539P1050541P1050542P1050543P1050546P1050549P1050551P1050554P1050561P1050565P1050567P1050568

 

StAnza – St Andrews: Third day

I feel like a kid in a candy store. There are way too many colours, choices, tastes. You just can’t pick them all. The great amount that you do eat makes you sick… Of pure joy. I had another great day with Old English, poetry (surprisingly), a good chat and laugh.
I don’t know what I like best, cycling or listening or writing poetry. I’m very glad I don’t have to chose. In fact, the two can be combined smoothly as the sea and the beach.
It would be my last day with the bike, so I swallowed down my breakfast, flushed it away with two cups of coffee and took my bike from underneath the stairs where usually the golf clubs are stashed. I went for a short ride to Strathkinness. Long enough to enjoy the outdoors, to clear my head and think about the day ahead.

P1050245.JPG

“It’s not like: Boom! I’ve made this up, I’m a genius.”
– Chris Jones about the common usage of kennings in Old English poetry

Chris Jones gave a workshop Old English for poets. A hundred years ago I specialized in Old Frisian, so I was really excited. We dived into kennings. I’ll give you the definition of the Wikipedia site: “A kenning is a type of circumlocation in form of a compound that employs figurative language in place of a more concrete single-word noun.” Battlelight for sword, wavestallion for ship. In Old English you have bonehouse for body. In Old Frisian you have something similar, namely benena burcht (bone-fortress) for womb. A modern day kenning is for example the word ‘skyscraper’. What was great about how Jones gave the workshop was not only his laidback and at the same time enthusiastic way but that he just let us play with kennings so to speak. He gave us tools to use them in our writing process, or maybe better put, to start writing. An exercise to get going. To expand the kenning in either a poem or in a new word that you could use. Maybe all of the words you think of are rubbish, but at least you’ve started writing. We weren’t forced to write a whole poem or come with ten kennings for let’s say a computer.

 

 

I really admire slam poets, because I can’t do without my papers. Slam poetry to me is a bit of mix of theatre and poetry. I would almost say it’s all about performance, but by stating that I do the form of art wrong. It’s words coming out of their mouths, they have something to say and it’s the way they say it that’s how the message gets through or how (much) the audience is entertained. Therefore I thought it was a pity that Hannah Raymond-Cox did only one ‘poem’. It was lively, fresh, fast and funny.

“If I had the perfect avocado, I could avoid a depression again.”
– Hannah Raymond-Cox

Catherine Wilson read both from paper and tablet. She performed a remake of the poem ‘Night’ by William Blake. The music that was played on the background of her last poem she did was absolutely of added value. Nowadays poets just turn on the radio or ask a musician to improvise, so they can say they are multimedial. That doesn’t always work out that easy. But that was not the case with Wilson.

P1050296

Catherine Wilson

You’ve read it in the blog about yesterday that whilst talking about poetry, you get to talk about language as easily as when you’re talking about the sky you get to talk about clouds. I met the same woman from Galicia as the night before. Her mother tongue is Galician, but since it’s not taught in schools her Spanish is better. When she translated a Scots poet into Galician, she found out again that her mother tongue is far more natural and has much more music in it. Such a story sounds like the perfect Frisian love poem to me.

“Do you know a word with more than one syllable. He looked at me and said: ‘Wanker’.”
– Martin Figura

I mentioned theatre when I wrote about slam poetry, but what really was a theatre piece was the show Dr Zeeman’s Catastrophe Machine performed by Martin Figura. I should have gone to another venue actually, but I got the wrong ticket. I didn’t regret it for a single second. Unbelievable how he performed for a whole hour straight. With no hiccups, ‘uh’s’ or whatever. He took us through his whole life. A trip with his adolescent son and the ups and downs with his daughter with what he lovelingly stated as irritable down syndrom, his second marriage, that he wasn’t the first to turn to Bukowski to change his vinex sweater for a leather jacket.  The audience laughed, was moved, was impressed by the great set-up and the perfect timing with the pictures behind him.

P1050389

Right after dinner it was time for the Quiet Open Mic at Zest Juicing and Coffee Bar. There were 23 poets who had signed up for it. So too many to mention them all. A lot of voices, a lot of variety. A tear, a laugh, an ‘oooh’. It was all there, it was lovely. I was goofying around a bit with my camera, so I only filmed one poet. It’s Roger West you see in the video. After his performance it was mentioned that the intention was that no one should be made felt awkward, embarrassed or insulted. That wasn’t the case with West in my opinion. Shouldn’t poetry be on the edge of the border? Where is the border? When do you go too far as a poet?

I had to run back to the Byre Theatre to be just in time for the readings of Pitta Little and Mark Ford. When you read for an hour there has to be a laugh as well, which brought Little to remark that she wishes to become an elk if she was resurrected. She already sees herself stepping into a garden eating the roses. Ford intrigued us all with his poem about a pool full of peanuts at the very start. It was the very first poem he ever wrote.

“A swimming pool full of peanuts is not worth the trouble.”
– Mark Ford

My fellow Frisian poets Sigrid Kingma and Tsead Bruinja had arrived. After the readings, while an open mic was going on downstairs we had a drink and a chat about poetry, dead poets, everyday life, what we had to do at the festival. I didn’t want to go to the pub. I told them I had to write this blog post. My old friends can confirm I am easy (too easy) to persuade to have another beer in a pub. So I ended up with a Guinness in the Criterion. Again a same theme popped up in the conversation. It wasn’t about the musicality of poetry, that you have to stay true to the poet you’re translating and that you have to please your audience as well, it was neither about the reluctance of saying that you are a poet, but that you say I write a poem now and then. No, it was the theme where we started the day with. Toilets, and things people do there. But I won’t further bore you with that, instead of that I’ll get ready for a day of translating the poems of Rachel Plummer and Stewart Sanderson. And you should get ready for a new day as well!

 

StAnza – St Andrews: Second day

The weather couldn’t have been better for a Poetry Walk by Morag Wells. And a great start of the second day, actually the first day fully programmed. Morag led us around the city, reading poems at certain locations. She linked the tour with the student life. St Andrews has a population of approximately 18.000 inhabitants, with 8000 students. Therefore students have quite an influence on the city. Everywhere you look there is a student. It keeps the city young and dynamic, I suppose. The cabby who brought Thomas and me to our hotel was slightly less positive. He thought students are taking over, so it’s impossible to get an affordable apartment in St Andrews.
Anyway, students have their own traditions and Morag told us the one about students diving into the sea on the first of May at 4 o’clock in the morning.

I liked the fact that she read both older poets like Edward Muir and Helena Farnell, the latter joined our group as well.

Earlier on I wrote that The Self is one of the main themes at this year’s StAnza. Will Harris, the same one I mentioned yesterday said that inheritance is all you’ve got, it’s something active and living that grows within us. I agree with him about that. I tried to shake off my Frisian roots a few years ago when I lived in Denmark. That is stated a bit strongly, since I was still writing in and translating into Frisian, but I didn’t want to have anything more to do with the Frisian language than just that. So no meetings about getting a better position in schools for the language etcetera. But I guess it’s too deep inside my bones and marrow. I came back to Fryslân and I am involved in quite a few things concerning the language.

“I’m here for a good time, not for a long time.” – Vanessa Kisuule

Vanessa Kisuule who did a reading during lunch had a completely different experience and therefore a different opinion. Her parents came to England from Uganda when they were in their twenties. She was raised in English, she never learned Ugandan and was never interested in it. “It was a part of my heritage, which wasn’t relevant.” Until she met her grandmother, who doesn’t speak English. From the stories others have told her, she feels related with her. They both have the same character traits, but there is nothing to bridge the gap in order to talk with her, let alone be friends. A good example how important language is. But Vanessa is not the kind of woman to be kicked off her feet by that. She is campaigning for joy, a thing that is seen as not intellectual and naive. “Joy is fucking grown-up.”

“That a poet is being playful is extremely important.” – anonymus spectator

Furthermore I saw Thomas Möhlmann perform in both Dutch and English (which I understood both). He’s not only a great performer, a great poet, but also great company. I had a bit of a dip when I went to the Town Hall again for the second Border Crossing that day (the first one was with Will and Thomas) to hear Owen Lowery and Martin MacIntyre. Lowery took me by the hand and with his calm and clear voice led me into his world. In other cases you can get even sleepier, but quite the opposite happened. MacIntyre read both in English and in Gaelic. I loved it. Especially the poem about a WW1 soldier who came back at the station in Preston and had a mental breakdown. I didn’t understand a word, but how MacIntyre performed it, you could feel every bit of pain and sorrow. The poem he is reciting here below is not the one, but a nice example of a bilingual poem.

Outside the Byre Theatre my trusty steed waited for me and I was desperate to go out for a ride. I talked to a fellow poet during the Poetry Walk and she recommended I would go to West Sands. It wasn’t a long ride, but I could catch my breath and ponder about all the splendid poetry I’ve heard. I loaded up my batteries to scribble out some notes I took and just before six o’clock there was David Eyre. He wanted to let me check a translation he made with an online dictionary. He did a bloody great job. He thinks Scots is not getting the attention in schools and in public as it should be. He wants to show people the link to the other countries overseas and point them at the similarities. That we really have something in common language-wise, so that we all belong to the north sea-region. I think as well that languages, especially minority languages can help each other out, enforce each other. Borders can be crossed so easily, when you do you see how much in common we have on many levels.

P1050177.JPG

P1050183

Then it was time for the last poetry reading of that day. The Dutch poet Ester Naomi Perquin brought her poems with a lot of humour. Of course I knew her by name, but I have to confess that I have never read a single poem of hers, let alone have seen her live. So it was sheer delight seeing her on stage. In the break I had a short chat about identity again with another spectator. She was English and came to live in Scotland. It was just then that she felt English for the first time in her life. She asked me if I felt Dutch or Frisian. I have to say that I’m Frisian first of all. However it depends on whom I am speaking to if I say I’m from The Netherlands, or from Fryslân. Countless times I have said the same phrase: Frisian is the language being spoken in the northern parts of the Netherlands, to clarify what my situation is. After the interval the poet Michael Symmons Roberts came on stage who brought us a bit more classical poems from Manchester where he lives. And then some jazz and some pints to wrap the whole evening up.

“Love is like driving intoxicated. You think everything is going fine, but than you look in the mirror and the road is covered with bodies.” – Ester Naomi Perquin

 

 

 

 

 

StAnza – St Andrews: First day

First of all I would like to say that you have to forgive me the not so poetic title. My goal is to blog about StAnza and St Andrews every day, so hence the title. Pure convenience.
(I didn’t make to write this post yesterday evening, due to staying to long in the bar.)

The day before yesterday I got the bike and drove over the beach. It was drizzling and foggy, but I bought rain trousers, because I’ve forgotten mine. Unfortunately they couldn’t stop a wave from flooding over my shoes when I made a stop to make a picture. I just hope the audience isn’t looking at my feet. Come to think about that, why didn’t I put on my cycling/outdoor shoes in the first place?
Enfin, I had a hearty breakfast (‘Craigmore full Scottish’) in order to be able to cycle all morning. The plan was to go along the coast and along the golf courses. Although the sun was out, the roads were still very muddy and wet. And therefore very slippery. And there was a bit of a cliff, stepping stones and what not. Very adventurous and it might be true that a dead poet gets more readers than when he’s alive, but I didn’t feel like trying that out just yet.
Coming out on the tarmac I felt more comfortable, especially when I found a minor road. To be quite frank I was slightly anxious, since I’ve heard that the traffic isn’t great in England. It’s good that I’m not in England, but in Scotland, because I had no complaint whatsoever. There were some potholes in the road due to the frost and a bit of snow, but that comes with the job. All in all I had a very pleasant ride through the countryside and wish I had more time to do so again. Riding on the left side oft the road is by the way no more difficult than on the right side. You get used to it at once.
Countries like Scotland really appeal to me, just like Scandinavia does. The roughness of the landscape, the kindness of the people. Apart from where there is still snow, it’s very green while underneath you the sea is splashing its waves on the cliffs. No wonder Scotland has brought forward a lot of poets. I have no doubt it will inspire me.

Today I’ll explore St Andrews itself a bit more. First of all I have a Poetry Walk by Morag Wells and in the afternoon I would like to go into town myself.

 

 

 

 

That was the cycling bit of this blog post. I promised you the previous post that I would write about poetry. On Tuesday I had a pint or two, three and something to eat with the Dutch poet Thomas Möhlmann. Yesterday we lunched with Eleanore and Annie, who are the organizers of StAnza. They are very busy preparing, but still have time for a lunch break and a chat. They do a great job making us feel welcome.

And so the opening event began with sandwiches and wine. In the crowded foyer you had a chance to talk with fellow poets and visitors of the festival. I came to talk with a Macedonian poet who lives in Scotland for almost seven years. I have stated it here before, but I’ll state it again. The beauty about travelling is not only the lovely scenery but also that you meet a lot of interesting people.
The performances itself were interesting as well. Everybody had like five minutes for a poem or two. In that way you heard a lot of different voices, poems and languages. English, Scots Gaelic, Dutch and of course Frisian. One of the themes is Going Dutch, hence the quite large amount of Dutch poets. The other theme is Borderlines and The self. Are borders stillthere in this age of globalization, or are the borders only in our heads? The self is about identity, your own character. How is that reflected in poetry. It goes too far to name every single poet who did a performance yesterday, but I name Will Harris since he used both ‘borderlines’ and ‘self’ in his terrific poem. It was about how he’s seen as foreigner due to his ‘mixed Anglo-Indonesian heritage’. Go see him at StAnza, or look him up on the internet.
A night of poetry can’t do without music. There was music between the different poets and afterwards in the café bar. The singer/songwriter Hamish Hawk did a wonderful fragile song, which moved everyone in the audience. I’m glad I heard it then, because afterwards you start drinking and talking, what is being played is more background music. Now that I’m writing this I feel a bit bad about it, since he gave his whole heart in the music. Just like the Inklight poets did after. They finished the evening and invited other people to read a poem.

In short the opening night was a succes in every aspect. I got a good notion of all the variety there is to see and hear at StAnza the coming days. To wrap up I would like to say that for me personally it’s fantastic to climb on an international stage. I read a poem by Rachel Plummer and Stewart Sanderson to let the audience know about the Translation showcase we’re in. When you perform in Fryslân you don’t often hear what people think of your performance/poetry. But outside of Fryslân you do get to hear that. It’s a thing I hear from more Frisian poets. So it was nice to get a compliment, although the poems weren’t mine. 😉

Now I need to get ready for a new day of cycling and poetry! As we say in Frisian: It could be worse.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting ready for StAnza

Tomorrow I’m flying to Edinburgh, where a taxi awaits my arrival to bring me to St Andrews, where StAnza – Scotland’s International Poetry Festival is taking place. Yes, I’m going to StAnza. As a poet and as this year’s Guest Blogger! You can imagine that I’m quite excited!

Everything, absolutely everything, the cab, the hotel, the flight is arranged for me. All hail to the organization who make me feel like a VIP.
So for this trip I’ve packed my backpack and not my panniers. No tent, no stove, no sleeping bag, no sweaty cycling clothing. I’ve written down my schedule when a reading or workshop is taking place, and not the towns I’ll be cycling through. Although the coming blog posts will be more concentrated on literature and on poetry in particular, the organization has hired a bicycle for me at Spokes (yes they arranged that as well). On Wednesday I will be spending the day to have a look around the city of St Andrews and its nearby surroundings. I am very excited to try out how it is to be cycling in Scotland (yes I know I have to ride on the wrong, I mean on the left side of the road), since next time I’ll be crossing the Channel I would like to go there with my own bike, and have more than just a week. And I wouldn’t mind if my girlfriend is joining me then.
But I’m trailing off. The coming days I’m writing about my experiences at StAnza. At first about the festival and St Andrews in general,. Later on it’ll be more specific about the translation session I’m attending on Saturday. My Frisian colleague Sigrid Kingma and I will translate two Scottish poems by Rachel Plummer and Stewart Sanderson into Frisian, and they will translate two of our poems into Scottish. On Sunday we have to talk about that process. Where were the difficulties, where the joys of translating etc.

On top of that comes the fact that I’ve never been to StAnza, but I have heard of fellow poets that it’s pretty awesomesauce and from what I’ve seen on the internet I believe them at once. Actually I have to confess, that I’ve never been to a poetry festival before. Of course I did quite a few performances and stuff like that, but I even have never been as a spectator at such a festival. I suppose that StAnza is a good one to start with.

IMG_20180304_131357