US poets Galway Kinnell and WS Merwin


This video from the USA says about itself: ‘the poet W.S. Merwin reads from his vast body of poetry at UC Santa Barbara on April 13, 2006. ‘

From London daily The Morning Star:

Visionary words

(Tuesday 11 September 2007)

POETRY: 21st Century Verse

ANDY CROFT rounds up this month’s best poetry releases.

In 1965, Life Magazine carried on its cover a photograph taken during a civil rights march in Alabama.

It showed a tearful black woman tending the wounds of a young white man injured when the marchers were violently assaulted by state troopers.

That young man was the poet Galway Kinnell, already active in voter registration in Louisiana.

He later wrote about his involvement in the civil rights movement and the campaign against the Vietnam war in an epic poem called The Book of Nightmares.

Kinnell is now one of the grand old men of US poetry, the author of widely anthologised and well-loved poems such as The Bear, St Francis and the Sow and After Making Love We Hear Footsteps.

Bloodaxe Books brought out an anthology a few years ago. Now, at the age of 80, Kinnell has just written a new book called Strong is Your Hold, also published by Bloodaxe, priced £8.95. …

WS Merwin – who was at Princeton with Kinnell – has also been an outspoken critic of US governments.

Drawing on half a century of work, his Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, £9.95) includes several memorable political poems such as The Asians Dying, Presidents and the wonderful Avoiding News by the River.

Another Merwin video: here.

Multatuli, Goethe, and colonial wars from Indonesia then to Afghanistan now


This video is called Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – Speedpainting by M. Missfeldt.

Dutch Theater Nomade, led by Ab Gietelink, often plays versions, adapted for twenty-first century theater, of older classical literature.

In 2006, they did a new version of Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This year, they do an adaptation for theater of the most famous nineteenth century Dutch novel, Max Havelaar by Multatuli.

In both plays, the Dutch soldiers participating in the war in Afghanistan play a major role.

In an interview about his version of Faust, Gietelink said:

‘Eighty percent of the Dutch parliament have voted in favour of the mission to Afghanistan. I am certain that if there would have been a referendum, the people would have voted against it. The motives for invading are the same ones as when we invaded Aceh a hundred years ago. These people may have good intentions. Then, rebels were called terrorists as well. However, those Achinese then did not come here, that is the difference.

This is a neocolonialist discourse. One really has to be careful with helping people who did not ask for that. I have been to Iraq just after the first Gulf war. Then, it was safer than now. I would not go there now. Some of the people then were pro Saddam, some were against; however, they all saw the United States as an enemy. The media never asked that to those people. Saddam had to go; however, basically, the people have to do that themselves.’

In an interview with Dutch daily Leidsch Dagblad, Gietelink also emphasized the Afghanistan issue. It is in the paper version of that daily. However, the Internet version of the interview left out the Afghan war issue. Gietelink said, that Multatuli had already criticized the Dutch military in Indonesia in the nineteenth century; and that that criticism is still relevant for the Dutch military role in Uruzgan in Afghanistan today.

Uruzgan now and Aceh then: here.

See video on preparations for Max Havelaar performance in Leiden: here.

Communism and anti colonialism in the 1920s: here.

Cruel punishments among Christians and Muslims


This video from Britain is called John McDonnell [Labour] MP – Against Islamophobia.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Stoning and cutting off limbs in the Bible and the Q’uran

‘Whatever [Dutch extreme Right Islamophobic politician] Geert Wilders may say, in the Bible there is stuff just as awful as in the Q’uran’, [Leiden University] Professor Dr. Bas ter Haar Romeny says. ‘The crucial issue is how religious communities work with their sacred texts.’ This Friday, Romeny will do his inaugural lecture.

Professor Dr. Bas ter Haar Romeny’s field is the Old Testament.

Rice University professor debunks National Geographic translation of Gospel of Judas: here.

Duck and butterflies


This video is from the butterfly garden in Waalre, the Netherlands: the Red Admiral (Vanessa Atalanta).

The female tufted duck of last week is still in the castle pond in the nature reserve. Many barn swallows flying over the eastern meadow.

Speckled wood butterfly. Two red admirals; one flying, one sitting, head down, on a young tree nearby. A grasshopper.

Canadian soldiers bound for war in Afghanistan on drugs


‘This video short looks at opium abuse among women and children in north eastern Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the world’s leading producer of illicit opium‘.

From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

Nearly 200 soldiers kept home from Afghanistan over drug use: report

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 | 1:18 AM ET

Nearly 200 Canadian soldiers slated for deployment to Afghanistan have been kept home because they tested positive for drug use, documents show. …

The documents also show dozens of soldiers provided diluted urine samples, something the military views as an attempt to cheat the system.

As for soldiers who are not on drugs: in George W. Bush’s ‘new’ Afghanistan, the top opium producer of the world, they may yet get on drugs. Many soldiers start taking drugs as a reaction to the stress of war.

Maybe the Canadian soldiers, rejected for the Afghan war for being on drugs, may yet go to the war in the United States armed forces, where being on drugs, being a criminal, being a nazi, etc. are no obstacles for enlisting.

Afghans block highway shouting ‘Death to Canada‘. Protest follows killing of two clerics: here.