E. Hemingway – A poem

You are not your age,
Nor the size of the clothes you wear,
You are not a weight,
Or the color of your hair.
You are not your name,
Or the dimples in your cheeks,
You are all the books you read,
And all the words you speak,
You are your croaky morning voice,
And the smiles you try to hide,
You are the sweetness in your laughter,
And every tear you’ve cried,
You’re the songs you sing so loudly when you know you’re all alone,
You’re the places you’ve been too,
And the one that you call home,
You’re the things that you believe in,
And the people that you love,
You’re the photos in your bedroom,
And the future you dream of,
You’re made of so much beauty,
But it seems you forgot,
When you decided that you were defined,
By all the things you’re not.

A story that could be true, by William Stafford

If you were exchanged in huge cradle and
Your real mother died
Without ever telling the story
Then no one knows your name,
And somewhere in huge world
Your father is lost and needs you
But you are far away.

He can never find
How true are, how ready.
When the great wind comes
And the robberies of the rain
You stand on the corner shivering.
The people who go by – –
You wonder at their calm.

They miss the whisper that runs
Any day in your mind,
“Who are you really, wanderer?”- –
And the answer you have to give
No matter how dark and cold
The world around you is:
“Maybe I’m the king.”

New York City haiku

New York City in 17 syllables

For National Poetry Month, The New York Times asked readers to write haiku about the city: three lines of five, seven and five syllables. The response — more than 2,800 submissions in 10 days — was as impressive, and as exhausting, as the city itself. Writers were asked to stick to six subjects: the island, strangers, solitude, commuting, 6 a.m. and kindness. Beyond that, poems could be fashioned from whatever inspiration the five boroughs provided.

I’ve never been to New York, but it looks like I have to, because lately I keep on reading, hearing or seeing something related to this fascinating city 🙂 This poetry contest was such a great idea and I enjoyed reading these haiku in the Danish sun with my cup of coffee. Some of them made me smile, some made me think and some of them awoke that mixed sensation of solitude and belonging, I was feeling when I was living in London.
Here are some of my favourite:

(Kindness)
Behind him a trail
Of bread crumbs, popcorn and seeds.
He makes birds happy

(commute)
Morning Q commute
Has the best smell of the day:
Coffee and shampoo.

(Island)
If build and destroy
are music notes, our island
Is a symphony.

(Island)
If jackhammers wrote
Code, our island would launch a
Facebook every day

(kindness)
The New Yorker is
Not kind, they say. I say, he
Just left it at home.

(solitude)
This concrete, these dreams
Crafted before I got here
Gone before I left.

(strangers)
We can spend the night
Together, but I expect
Bagels in the morning.

(solitude)
On the roof, standing,
Flying his kite in the sky
The street disappears.

(6 a.m.)
Hidden among the
Sleepwalking, caffeine zombies.
A morning person.

(strangers)
I know you, don’t I?
You were me five years ago,
Dreaming of New York.

Henriette Sennenvaldt

Few weeks ago I attended my first Poetry brunch. Even if the brunch consisted of a little corner of chocolate cake, I was impressed by the two Danish poets. A man and a woman in their thirties have been summoned to read some of their poems for a us and answer some questions. I was not sure, I was going to understand, because it was in Danish and poetry is for me the most direct form of literature, but it´s also the one that is most directly connected to the hearth and the semiotics of a language, and to the culture as well. So it can really be difficult to understand the meaning, when you have to listen and don´t have the luxury to have a something written down you can read again and again. It went fine, I suppose! 😛

I was impressed by the Henriette Sennenvaldt. She sang a poem in English whilst she was playing. She had a beautiful, characteristic voice. So when everything was over, I went to speak to her and I asked where I could buy her book. She said “I can send it to you”, for free. She was just so sweet and inspiring! So I got my book last Friday, and I found out, she wrote her poems in Danish and then they have been translated into English! I prefer them in Danish, but I happy to have the English version, so I can post one here 🙂

She didn´t focus only on the poems, but on the format of the book as well . On the first page she wrote:

The masterpiece was a book made of snow 23 by 27 centimeters

Sweet little book

Sweet little book

Then you turn page and jump into an illustration of Julie Nord, ” Afternoon at the fringe” (very Carrollian if you ask me hehe). I tried to take a picture with my phone and my little finger:

Julie Nord

Julie Nord

The layout is elegant, clear and simple. I like this attention to different aspects of the book, because the book becomes more than a mere book 🙂

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

 

TOY

 

Nothing but a toy

So simple and sexy

When I get lost and get scared

You examine my stumps

You poke at the void

You lick my soul

You munch my pulse

 

You are nothing but bad

such a crawling creep

Such greedy liar

Yeah yeah it was awesome

It was ok fine

Leave and never come back

Wretch

 

I know the likes of you

Shadows that lure and crave

Crude crude shadows

No clue as to what has been slipped into the meal

Who is waiting on dark staircases

It does not matter now

Everyone knows I am sick with longing

 

Nothing but

Moonsick and strange

I am tired of people

Who just abandoned me

Far too hopelessly hopeful

Round here there is the risk and run

Round here not a damn thing happens

 

The laughing heart

What a great poem…

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

Charles Bukowski

Holocaust Memorial Day 2014

This year I let Primo Levi explain, why we don’t have to forget.

If This Is a Man

You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud,
Who does not know peace,
Who fights for a scrap of bread,
Who dies because of a yes or a no.

Consider if this is a woman
Without hair and without name,
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter.

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children.

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

Se questo è un uomo

Voi che vivete sicuri
Nelle vostre tiepide case
voi che trovate tornando a sera
Il cibo caldo e visi amici:
Considerate se questo è un uomo
Che lavora nel fango
Che non conosce pace
Che lotta per mezzo pane
Che muore per un sì o per un no.

Considerate se questa è una donna
Senza capelli e senza nome
Senza più forza di ricordare
Vuoti gli occhi e freddo il grembo
Come una rana d’inverno.

Meditate che questo è stato
Vi comando queste parole.
Scolpitele nel vostro cuore
Stando in casa andando per via
Coricandovi alzandovi
Ripetetele ai vostri figli.

O vi si sfaccia la casa
La malattia vi impedisca
I vostri nati torcano il viso da voi.

Goodbye Nelson Mandela

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All people shall have equal right to use their own languages, and to develop their own folk culture and customs . . . . The aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace; Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children. (Constitution, 1996)

A fine article written by Andres Hallengren: Nelson Mandela and the rainbow of culture. It’s a bit long, but it’s worth reading it. Sometimes I forget how powerful poetry and literature can be, in the way they can inspire and touch the soul. I also forgot, how beautiful Henley’s Invictus is, and I can understand, why Mandela was so attached to it. Goodbye to a great man.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.