Posts tagged hotel


19 June

The old lady asked me about my crows after my reading: do they have any political meaning? I say no.

I mean yes.

How can I practise my politics if I don’t say no to her? Like a crow: how can it sing without breaking the silence?

I open the window of hotel room for . . . anything . . . something out of my knowledge. Can’t be expected. Ordinary as usual. Gone with perception. No value.

There is a black crow sitting on a roof. A heavy spot. A substantiality I can touch by staring at it. I have been touched by its shining black and breathless heaviness many times. I know it acknowldeges my touching by being still.

My teacher: it only sing when it can breaks silence. This is the art of timing. But also axe through air: the art of sounding space.

Crows don’t move at all when they aren’t moving. And I wrote: crows have no eyes.

Something many people don’t know: the crow is the sun itself. It has three legs. It is one of our gods from not that long ago.

But in my memories they were just a group of black birds flying above, singing to make everything quiet. Sometimes I heard their wings moving. That means it was really quiet: nothing happening around and me doing nothing as well: still life.

This is better than god.

When I was a little kid I knew only three kind of birds: crow, eagle and sparrow. And I was always sitting behind the window, staring and waiting for something.

Sometimes an eagle passed high above. I looked at it as today I look at a plane. It makes the whole world slow down.

Peace for the world: we need an eagle flying above.

Politics for the Netherlands: I heard there are no more Smart shops. And soon the coffee shops will say no to foreigners.

On the first evening of the festival a poet raised his hand on stage: Free Tibet!

Free the crow!

Or, how about this? Smart people, break the system!

Does that sound sharp enough? Shall we put it on a flag? A tattoo?

I don’t really need a Smart shop. It’s better to keep it far away from tourists. Sometimes headless people also make the right decisions. Just as idiots also need human rights.

© Yan Jun

The Ukrainian poet [Serhiy Zhadan] read a poem about mushrooms. I know it’s not about mushrooms. Nor about politics. The one from Kazakhstan [Bakhyt Kenzjejev] said he hates China as he hates Russia. I know it’s not about poetry, Chinese or Russian.

The Austrian one who lives in Berlin [Ann Cotten] told the audience that she and her friends became communists. This reminded me of Godard’s Film Socialism. He said: this is nothing to do with socialism.

Sixteen years ago a friend and I ran a music store called Crow. Something funny: the logo designer forgot to draw enough legs for it. It’s a one-legged crow!

Hotels and balloons

9 a.m., Thursday, June 16.  It’s raining warmly in Rotterdam.  I’m sitting in tranquil Dudok, the café two blocks from Hotel Atlanta where poets and PIW editors are housed. Some years back, Israeli poet Nurit Zarchi wrote of her desire to remain at the Atlanta, apparently for its tranquility and and in order to experience the eternal promise involved in travel:

Let’s say that I have chosen to live in this hotel,
to be reflected in the mirrors trapped in front of me,
the sun shining on green apples that might be made of wax
and a platoon of coffee mugs
in this quiet-filled space,
chosen to pass door after door with sinking steps
in the hallway of  other people’s sleep on the other side of the wall.
A faucet or a clock speaks its own language,
so I prefer to live in this hotel.
A toothbrush and a water kettle pretend to be family,
letting me read
until the windows whiten behind the screen,
and cars waken earlier than seagulls.
It’s clear that it’s me
who insists taking me home to my room
where the solitary daughters of the deep
sit on suitcases tattooed with all the world’s promises.

A still from the short film Nach grauen Tagen

Speaking of tranquility, I loved the film Nach grauen Tagen by Ralf Schmerberg which played at the festival’s international opening. Based on (translated into film from, it may be said), an Ingeborg Bachmann poem, it is a vision of family life taken to the nth degree of chaos (a theme of the festival). At its center is a harassed mother (in shirt and underpants), who finds respite only when her head is encased in a balloon in which, if I am not mistaken, a few lines of poetry are recited. Outside the balloon is a living room filled with noise, complaints, demands of husband, another mother (in-law?), babies, rabbits, trash, etc.

Perhaps it may be said that attending the PIW poetry festival in Rotterdam is a bit like being inside a balloon.