In maart 2010 verscheen bij Demer Press het boek ‘Poppies and Chamber Music’, bestaande uit werk van tien Nederlandse en Vlaamse dichters (elk met zes gedichten). Alle teksten werden vertaald door de Britse auteur John Irons.

Albert Hagenaars droeg de reeks ‘Blessing’ bij: 1) ‘A handful of earth’, 2) ‘Reunion’, 3) ‘Ancestor’, 4) ‘The world’s navel’, 5) ‘Yogyakarta’, en 6) ‘Surrender’.

De andere dichters zijn: Bert Bevers, Jenny Dejaeger, Thierry Deleu, Marleen De Smet, Fernand Florizoone, Paul Gellings, Joris Iven, Roger Nupie en Hannie Rouweler.

De samenstelling werd gedaan door Thierry Deleu en Hannie Rouweler.





A handful of earth, bestowed with love
by the creator as a revelation.
Your name, but I did not believe

in myself and as yet spoke no Javanese

and hunted on, into the emptiness of other lands,
reflecting what a person keeps from himself.
The master, your grandfather, had foretold it:
shortly after I am gone he will return.
And so you waited, with Buddhistic patience
allowing me to circle round you ever closer,
a bird of prey, losing in beat of wing,
gaining in keenness of gaze.


After seven years of denial, after seven
times seven blows to the midriff,
the breaking of resistance,
you suddenly appear once more in the palm garden.
After so many words on bloodless paper
your smile is like that of the reliefs
in lava rock everywhere around us, full lips
that are to close round more than my language.
After the kept silence, the cutting, the sheafing,
the flailing of the rice from its stalks,
now the blessing of the elders, the gift,
a vow unknown to those without belief.



Behind glass I see you then,
as a copy in hardened synthetic resin
of the skull fragments compressed to stone:
Meganthropus Paleojavanicus.
Gone for good are the hair-covered skin,
the flat breasts with their long nipples
and the short hoarse sounds of the tongue
in which you warned, made love, died,
but not the strings of notional DNA
still spiralling in the woman with whom hand
in hand I stand before the dark showcase
and reconstruct your heavy features.
Your luxuriant world with predecessors
of elephant, buffalo and crocodile
became imperceptibly slowly buried
beneath layer upon layer of sediment.
After hundreds of thousands of years of waiting
you lift up your once so strong hands
of what is now caked grit,
reach out towards me
and want my mouth to breathe
life into her. I incorporate you
when our descendents survive,
according to a theory far from proven yet.


To a height of three thousand metres
the summit of Merapi soars up
out of a mist of never-ended stories.
Unabated smoke still curls up from the volcano
and sometimes, when the precepts
of the past are not complied with,
blood streams from the bowels
of the earth over her wooded flanks,
covering the plain with fertility.
Precisely here, just far enough from surveillance,
your nose slid over my neck and face
and snuffed up the scents of another
existence: cities, lies and texts,
taking over everything; for one instant
I stood empty at the abyss,
then you filled me with more years
of privation and memory of what
could have been than I had ever known.
Riveted together on this ledge of lava,
you opened up your mouth to what now bound us:
a life in each other, bonded to Java.


The line from the volcano’s summit
past the sultan’s palace to the sea’s abyss
spans the sacred space of the culture
in which until the end you are embedded.
It preserves the balance between
the heavenly bodies and the daily life of prayer
and service, of birth, dying and grief.
May nothing disrupt this imposed harmony
or neighbours will view us with darkened gaze,
fire will rise up from Merapi, blood
descend from the world of ancestors.
So I am taught, ignorant as I still am,
and I am all ears and see charred fields
where the rice now rustles in a gentle breeze, hear
envy in a friendly voice, and bow
my head because I have so little own control.



The gamelan strikes up, copper against copper
brings a former pledge to its conclusion.
Shrill voices search, grow stronger.
In our stiff garments we stride to the centre
of the ring and throw betel leaves at each other,
against which no disaster can prevail.
As carefully as possible I step on the egg
and you wash my feet with what is freed
in the bowl with flower-petal water.
Under the approving eye of all
I empty a sack with rice, nuts and seeds
in your still briefly covered lap.
How deeply buried in my mother tongue,
how far withdrawn from the wreath of blood,
insatiably spreading in new life
merciful death now seems.





The labouring of soldiers rarely kept me
from my work. Strengthened rather the urge for ink,
for evenings of miracles. That we, already so far
in time, still want to be together for ever. Far

further than before, of before. Entranced I view
the simple calmness of fidelity, enthralled I draw in the
air the track of everything and everyone.
Forgivenessseems like a rough leap into pitch-darkness.

Comprehension of that sheer sliding of the twilight
comes slowly, like the recognition of a like soul.
From imagination glides the pure, from hesitation  

the precise sound, from night the lingering blade.
Unknown banners flutter in a strange wind.
There has been hearsay of a truce.

Bert Bever


BERT BEVERS (b. 1954, Bergen op Zoom) lives and works in Antwerp. An overview of the poetry he wrote between 1972 and 1997 has appeared in the anthology Afglans published by Uitgeverij WEL, where an anthology of his work will see the light of day in 2011, comprising work from the period 1997–2007. Recent collections of poetry are: In de buurt van de wereld (2002), Uit de herinneringen van een souffleur (2006) and Lambertus van Sint-Omaars beschrijft de wereld (2007). He also publishes poetry on his website




The tree is wise
can look into rooms
but stays silent,

the tree is holy,
it may peer into the sky
and announces the four seasons,

the tree is as grandfather,
he welcomes
with wide-open arms.

Fernand Florizoone


FERNAND FLORIZOONE b. 1925, produced 15 collections of poetry, including: Op de bermen van de tijd, Zee van naamloosheid, Mijn spraak is in de rui, Liefde heeft een zachte huid. Anthologies: Rituelen van kwetsbaarheid. Braille version with CD (Varsenare Braille Institute). Poems by Florizoone have been included in around ten anthologies. Prizes include: J.L.De Belderprijs 1977; Briljanten-Litera, Beringen 1982; The fiveyearly G. Gezelleprijs 1982-1986 awarded by the Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature. Cultural Ambassador of Koksijde. Translations : Zrodla Izery (Jerzy Koch – Poland); Le langage en mue (Christina Guirlande); Frontière de sable et de vent (Marcel Hennart); Sous huit siècles de sable (Marcel Hennart).



The one I’m following is ‘girl me’  

In her darkest eye-cast
where gossamer secrets
drape her lace gown
round the shoulders of the jester
with the laugh of the nymph,
with the jest
before the leap-days
of love

that pursue her with her
phantom limb pain
like young lettuce drowns utterly
in rain or yearns unimaginably
for water, that’s what ‘girl me’ is like.

With no shelf-life date
in white & black and dazzlingly beautiful,
like only rime-frost in the freezing cold
takes its photos, so does she
indicate her dreams.  

Jenny Dejager

JENNY DEJAGER has received higher education and works as an official. She has been on various courses of writing. She has published four collections of poetry: De smaak van stilte, In vlindervlucht naar de regenboog, Twee voetstappen later and Naast de liefde. She is at present working on a novel and a collection of poetry.




The sea so familiar with earth as
with the sky approaches me
sand-grained seagulls jackdaws kneel
ready for heaven-wide flight and

when I cool my hot fingertips
in the spattering of the first
wave I do myself up for enjoyment
the sea thrusts her curves forward

I feel her hot breath at my neck
whenever I cool lover disregard
the challenge disorderly set out
in the dike on naked-soft feet.

Thierry Deleu

THIERRY DELEU is honorary director of secondary education of the public comprehensive school in Tielt (1988-2000). From 1995 to 1999 he was ministerial adviser to the Flemish minister Luc Van den Bossche and Eddy Baldewijns (Education). He is co-author of a number of Dutch textbooks for use in vocational training. Most of all, however, he is known as a poet, novelist, essayist and biographer. Since 2006, he has been chairman of ‘The 50 Master Poets of the Low Countries by the sea’.




balanced my days
lay completely level,
I did laps as

a crippled watch against
the will of the hands
and saw everything except

what was in the making

the illusion that was peeled
like stubborn callous skin
until my kisses rhymed with lips
I searched for you and yes, you visited me
after I had closed my eyes
and slept

Marleen De Smet

MARLEEN DE SMET. If ever her thoughts show a dent, she gives it a blow with a poetic hammer. She came into contact with poetry at the age of fourteen, when she wrote her first poems for the collection Groeipijnen – van veertien tot eenenveertig [Growing pains – from fourteen to forty-one]. This was later followed by the novel De verborgen oorlogsliefde [The secret war affair]. In late 2005, her second collection of poetry vreemd hoe het gaat [strange how things go] saw the light of day. A number of her poems have also been included in anthologies and periodicals.




In a hundred thousand years’ time a museum is excavated
that showed a hole in time. Under the doorway night always fell
in the middle of the day and on the other side it rained
sun as far as a Greek temple or glittered curtains
mist, snow and hail above a plain in the city.

Inside the shards of the centuries tumbled through
coloured windows onto the carpets and the wooden floors
where you and I so often were passing through, overcome
by a cloud of wax and fabric. But the infinite also
burst at times even so out of linen covered with crackleware
in which quite delicate veins of today ran
towards earlier and then back again towards later.

In a hundred thousand years’ time a museum is excavated
that looked like a station building. We left there, arrived
there and never knew when, there in that turbulent
mesh of images and lines that led everyone to
another life, an elsewhere that was immense and remained.

One day it will be pulled up out of sea clay, half-
decomposed and eroded by an underwater world.
The canvases erased, the sculptures full of algae or leprous.
All the carpets, all the wood decayed away. Only that hole
in eternity will still be the same. Anyone who dares to go
and stand eyes closed beneath the doorway will experience
everything repeatedly from the very beginning,
be sucked along to here and now and further
and vice versa and time and time again.

Paul Gellings

PAUL GELLINGS was born in Amsterdam in 1953. He studied French in Groningen and Paris. From the early 1980s he has, among other things, been active as a translator and poet. He has published various collections, the most recent of which, entitled The voice of autumn, appeared in 2004. He has translated a selection of poems by Rutger Kopland into French and composed two anthologies both published by Gallimard (Paris): Songer à partir (1986) and Souvenirs de l'inconnu (1998). Between 2005 and 2007, Gellings was town poet of the city of Zwolle.




You know where I grew up: in a souvenir shop,
with shells, Chinese curios, glass beads and jewellery,

figurines and stuffed animals. Three-masters in bottles,
miniature bath tubs. I was born on the day of Venus.
I saw her blue-green eyes and long hair of sand.

She gleamed and foamed, she slobbered and dribbled. Then
grandma came bending forwards by my bed, disguised
as a coquettish farmer’s wife with a frightening mask.
The parrot raised a racket, the monkey peed in a shell.

Grandma hoisted me and the monkey into bizarre suits at carnival.
That evening the dwarf came with his long, curved nails
and tickled my palms. I was scared, as of a huge
hairy spider. You lived by dark morasses,
somber forest, naked fields. I came bringing rain.

Joris Iven


JORIS IVEN (b. 1954) has published five volumes of poetry: Gallery The Yew (1987), Egyptian Black (1993), Parchment/Testament (2001), Altogether (2005) and Ninglinspo (2009). He has translated poetry by the Turkish poet Nâzim Hikmet, the Moroccan poet Tahar Ben Jelloun, the Indian poetess Sujata Bhatt and the American poet Charles Simic. In 2009, bilingual publication: De voorvaderen en de heilige berg/The ancestors and the sacred mountain, ZULU poems, Mazisi Kunene. Website:




A postcard: palm trees,
bright-coloured houses,  sun & sea.
On the back:
my father has received the last rites
and we are just waiting for
his final moment/breath.
The waiting is killing us.

An e-mail: father
has departed this life.
After a protracted illness
he passed away yesterday
at the nursing home.
He will be interred
around next Saturday, etc.

I only knew him
from a photo with your mother
where I tried to recognize
your features in him.
We had him framed
in a shop
where we got a discount.

When you returned
to the land of your birth
I got completely stoned.
Now language leaves me
in the lurch.
Where are you,
comforting word?

Roger Nupie

ROGER NUPIE has already contributed to two publications from Demer Press: “Saturnus above the Schelde” and the dual-language (Dutch/English) “Black Sun”. For this publication he has selected works from, among others, the collections Ivory Sadness (Small piano composition) and the title poem from Apricots for Ali. Regularly appears live, also in various programmes with the soprano Kristina Meganck. Website:



This is a dress.
One to fit a fat belly.

Mostly we’re not that wild about bellies,
it seems so self-satisfied and buttons burst

would a rabbit fit in?
Or a bar of chocolate from far Austria?

This is a black dress with white dots
with the scent of alpine meadows and running water

expectations, growth and the sound
of small mouths and tiny feet.

In this dress, worn again time after time,
lie all the poems I have not written earlier.

Hannie Rouweler

HANNIE ROUWELER (b. 13 June 1951, Goor, The Netherlands) has lived in Belgium since 2004. With economical use of concrete details or a few brushstrokes she creates her own poetic world. In that totality she exposes a tension between dream and reality, past and present, imagination and phrase. In this way she paints her reality in relation to her immediate environment, human or otherwise. She has published over 20 volumes of poetry, some of which have been translated into foreign languages (Polish, English, Spanish, French, Rumanian, German). She has compiled several anthologies. Website:


JOHN IRONS (b. 1942, England), poet and translator, studied French, German and Dutch at Cambridge University. He has translated a wide range of poetry by Dutch, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish poets. He has lived in Scandinavia since 1968 and at present resides in Denmark. Website: