Yesterday evening, in the literature museum in The Hague, authors read from their work.
There were two “speakers’ corners”, one in the Erasmus hall, one in the hall where hundreds of Dutch authors’ portraits hang.
First, I went to the portrait gallery.
The first author to read from her work at the microphone there was Vera de Vries, also known as Xaviera Hollander. She is mainly known as a writer on prostitution and sex. Yesterday, however, she read from a recent, autobiographical, book, from when she was a toddler in a concentration camp run by the 1942-1945 Japanese occupiers of Indonesia. No sex, except for a passing reference to women forced into prostitution by the Japanese army as “comfort women“.
There was much hunger and ill-treatment at the camp, and many inmates died. Vera and her mother became ill but managed to survive.
I was second at that microphone. I read four poems: on a ladybird, on Bahraini poetess Ayat al-Gormezi, on winter and on an umbrella.
I went to the other microphone, where various authors read their prose and poetry.
One of the poets was Kristian Kanstadt, during the 1970s an editor of Amsterdam punk fanzine De Koekrant.
As last author at that microphone, I read my ladybird and umbrella poems again.