I kind of like getting tagged for meme’s – it appeals to the schoolgirl in me who always secretly liked homework (another weird thing about me!) And this one was just my cup of tea – a little research project. So, thanks Annie. Here’s the assignment, and my answers, all nice and neat.
- Take a country whose name begins with the last letter of your surname. (a) Jane Doe would take Ecuador, for example, or Egypt. England (like the USA and Ireland) does not qualify. Wole Soyinka would take Angola, or Afghanistan. If you can’t find a country with that letter (and only then), move back a step. (b) Jane Doe would take Oman, in that case. And as for Wole Soyinka, he would go for Kazakhstan, or Korea;
- Tell us what the capital city of the country is;
- Say how many inhabitants that country has;
- Find and share with us a poem in English of not more than 20 lines from that country. If it’s longer, cut it to twenty lines or less;
- Tell us something you particularly like about the poem you’ve chosen;
- Add a line anywhere in the poem (beginning, middle or end), and clearly show which line is yours to avoid confusion and/or ambiguity.
My last name ends with the letter “N”, and my country of choice was the Netherlands. It’s a densley populated country (16,570,610 in the 2007 census), whose capital city is Amsterdam.
The Netherlands is popularly known for its windmills, cheese, delft and gouda pottery, dikes, tulips, bicycles, and social tolerance!
In researching poetry from this country, I was most struck by the work of this young woman, Albertina Soepboer, born 1969 in the small town of Holwerd. She writes poetry in both Frisian and Dutch, and has so far published seven collections of poems. Poetry International says this about her: In her early collections, Soepboer showed herself a sensitive researcher of the female identity, displaying her exceptional talent for powerful earthy, sensory images.
I noticed that several of Soepboer’s poems referenced pianists and music, which of course drew me to them particularly. I love the images this poem conjures up – the starkness of eboby and ivory keys, the freezing cold of winter, all colored by the royal blue mittens, and the warmth of the music and the feelings it engendered. (I added the fourth stanza.)
DECEMBER IS THE COOLEST MONTH
I bought a pair of royal-blue mittens for him.
a windowsill, ten fingers flying through space.
ice crystals. The tone not just set but made.
Tears fell from my heart. Icy chambers locked
and frozen in silence at last began to melt.
The way we stood there, later, by the window.
White, winter music we were, and warm too.