zondag 30 december 2012


On December 23th 2012 Bongers Productions released the sixth video with a poem by Albert Hagenaars, this time a visualisation of Palawija, which was published before as ‘De derde oogst’, ‘Panen ke tiga’ and ‘The third harvest’ in several books and magazines.

Click here to see the video Palawija.

Click here and then on VIDEO to see the other films.

Click on 2010 (in the right column) for the HISTORY OF PALAWIJA or see below.


dinsdag 7 december 2010


Palawija in Bahasa Indonesia (the official Indonesian language) means 'third harvest'. Each third harvest a different crop is grown in order to protect the fertility of the soil. On the small but in many respects most important island of Java there are generally three harvests a year, two with rice and the next one with a different crop, for example beans.

Dutch poet Albert Hagenaars, when visiting Indonesia (his wife's country of origin), saw symbols in this very old agricultural system he thought he could use in his literary work.
He wrote seven poems, focusing on the cycle of life, and gave them the name 'Palawija'.

'Palawija' is the first publication of Pendopo, a small publishing firm which wants to focus on poetry and to connect both art disciplines and international cultures. Pendopo is located in the heart of the cultural capital of Java, in the kraton of Yogyakarta: Jalan (=street) Ngadisuryan KT 1/93.



So as not to exhaust the soil the rice
after each second harvest is replaced
once by maize or beans,

for the sake of love soft looks
by words that no longer conceal
that suspicion burrows in deep roots.

To the very lowest and the highest form
of the Javanese language my patience and
eagerness to learn and pledge are to be tested.

Repudiated wife or mistress, you prefer
to choose a man without caste,
without honour, without true belief.

You will beg and command,
you will bow down and be exalted,
you will know what it means

to live outside the familiar rotation
of monsoons and harvests

outside the yield of your womb.

British-Danish translator John Irons (ºHarrogate) made an English version. Six of his texts were published by the Belgian company Demer Press in the anthology 'Poppies & Chamber Music' in 2010. Five of them have appeared in the book 'Voices from everywhere', produced by the same publishing firm, in January 2011.

John Irons in Maastricht. Photo: © Albert Hagenaars, 2007.

Agung Soemitro (ºSurabaya) made an Indonesian translation.

With Agung Soemitro, during one of the translation sessions. Photo: © Peter Nuytemans, 2010.

On request of Albert Hagenaars, seven artists from both The Netherlands and Indonesia made an illustration, each with one of the poems:

1. Juni Pattimahu-Kusumanto - A handful of earth
2. Dees Goosen - Reunion
3. Ivan Sagito - The third harvest
4. Edith Bons - Ancestor
5. Entang Wiharso - The world's navel
6. Arfan Sunyono - Yogyakarta
7. Albert Hagenaars - Surrender

Finally, the original texts in Dutch will also appear in the book 'Bloedkrans' (meaning 'Wreath of Blood'), published by In de Knipscheer (Haarlem, The Netherlands). This publication is expected in the spring of 2011.

Juni Pattimahu-Kusumanto. Photo: © Albert Hagenaars, October 2010.

"Along the path of life everyone may be confronted by situations of crises. The transformation of one's life to a life of fulfillment depends strongly on one's ability to see crisis as a chance. This is a matter of choice and personal responsibility. In general my work reflects this central theme: the unfolding of life." Juni Pattimahu-Kusumanto

Dees Goosen. Photo: © Albert Hagenaars, September 2010.

Dees Goosen's contribution.

Ivan Sagito. Photo: © Albert Hagenaars, July 2010.

Ivan Sagito's contribution. Photo: © Albert Hagenaars, August 2010.

Edith Bons. Photo: © Albert Hagenaars. September 2010.

Entang Wiharso. Photo: © Albert Hagenaars, August 2010.

Entang Wiharso’s haunting images are hard to understand or explain. One has to come and see, absorb and delve into the layers of the artist’s frustration, anger and anxiety, but also into his ultimate resolve to keep hoping for our salvation from the imminent danger of destruction. Carla Bianpoen in her critical review 'Entang Wiharso: Love me or die', The Jakarta Post, 28-10-2010.

Entang Wiharso, finishing Palawija V: The world's navel. Photo: © Albert Hagenaars, August 2010.

Arfan Sunyono's contribution. Photo: © Yeni Sunyono, 2010.



Untuk tidak menguras dasar tanah
setelah panen kedua disini
padi diganti palawija.

Untuk menyelamatkan cinta pandangan lembut
melalui kata kata yang tidak tersembunyi lagi
bahwa kecurigaan menjalar.

Sampai di taraf terendah dan tertinggi
dari bahasa Jawa kesabaranku dan semangatku
belajar dan janjiku harus teruji

Wanita terbuang atau ratu, kamu memilih
pilihan seorang laki laki tanpa kasta,
tanpa tahta, tanpa kepercayaan yang sungguh.

Kamu akan memohon dan paksa,
kamu akan bersujud dan disembah
kamu akan tahu artinya

hidup diluar lingkaran yang terpercaya
penghujan, kemarau dan panen

di luar hasil rahim.

Terjemahan: Agung Soemitro

'Surrender', the illustration with the 7th poem, by Albert Hagenaars himself.

In Entang's Black Goat Studio in Prambanan. Photo: © Siti Wahyuningsih, August 2010.

Franc Knipscheer, the publisher of 'Bloedkrans' (including 'Palawija'). Photo: © Miriam van der Valk. Poetry centre Perdu, Amsterdam, December 2003.


Edith Bons (º1952) was born in Merauke, New Guinea, in eastern Indonesia. The family moved to Groningen, The Netherlands, in 1962. There she attended the Minerva Academy of Arts (1980-1985). After her study she visited Indonesia regularly and also lived there for quite some time, together with her Javanese husband, poet Winarko Boesrie. In 2010 Edith celebrated her activities as an artist for 25 years with a special exhibition in her new hometown Delft.
In her work eastern and western influences are combined in order to examine her Dutch East Indian identity. Therefore it is hardly surprising to see her work come into existence with palm leaf, grains of rice, fragments of buffalo leather and pieces of batik fabric rather than paint. These materials help to strengthen the relation between ritual and modern art. The artist nevertheless makes sure her products don’t become too “exotic”. Edith Bons also creates installations on a large scale, mainly built up with rice, literally heaps of rice, as could be seen in the important exhibition in Karta Pustaka (the Indonesian-Dutch Cultural Centre) in Yogyakarta. Her fascination with rice is one of the reasons Albert Hagenaars invited her to join the ’Palawija’ project.
Since 2003 the artist focuses on new themes. Her relation with the country of origin has become less important but remains embedded in what she calls “a more universal subject-matter”. Edith Bons had exhibitions in The Netherlands and Indonesia. www.edithbons.nl

Dees Goosen was born in Antwerp (Belgium) in 1958. She grew up in the Dutch town of Bergen op Zoom and studied at the international Craftschool for Gold-& Silversmithing, Clock-& Watchmaker, Jewellery and Glass Art in Schoonhoven (The Netherlands).
Although she uses several media, she turned out to be an artist with unique skills for painting. Her work represents two worlds of impressions, feelings and experiences: her Dutch as well as her Indonesian background. Especially the latter leads to an ‘inner homeland’, more firmly so since the artist visited Singapore and Indonesia.
The paintings, mainly produced with acryl, express a non-figurative realm, consisting of powerful but nevertheless subtle forms. Many layers materialise her feeling of living in the two mentioned worlds. Each work becomes the imaginary map of a domain she is always trying to reach mentally. The bright colors, mainly red, yellow and blue, want to give the viewer positive impressions of how the world could be.
Dees Goosen had exhibitions in The Netherlands (Amsterdam, The Hague, Delft, Utrecht, Breda, Bergen op Zoom) and Belgium (Ghent) and organized workshops in these countries as well as in France. At the moment she is also working, with fellow-artists, on a project in Yogyakarta.

ALBERT HAGENAARS - Photo © Siti Wahyuningsih
Albert Hagenaars was born on 7 April 1955 in the southern border town of Bergen op Zoom and was initially active as a visual artist and gallery owner. He studied Dutch and spent much time in France. In 1980 he chose to specialise in literature.
Besides poems, novels and translations, he also writes critical reviews on literature and modern visual art for several newspapers and magazines as well as the National Library Service. Regularly, he works with artists from all fields, as well as colleagues from other countries.
Several of his books have been translated, into German, English, French and Indonesian. Composers have also produced music to the work of Albert Hagenaars. Jan Walraven produced a CD with music for piano and organ, based on the compilation ‘Linguisticum’. The American musician Dirk Stromberg, chose 18 poems from ‘Tropendrift’ for a double CD of the same name with predominantly electronic music. On this CD, one hears the English translation by John Irons, recited by Douglas Cohen.
Albert Hagenaars has travelled a lot, through, amongst others, the United States, Latin-America and the Far East. For the last few years he has spent his summers living and working in Indonesia, his wife’s country of origin. Therefore his most important themes are travel, intercultural relations, alienation and above all love: love in all its facets.
His poetry was nominated several times. In 2007 he received the Sakko Prize, an oeuvre award, which is provided by Tamoil Nederland BV yearly.

JOHN IRONS - Photo © Siti Wahyuningsih
John Irons was born in the English town of Harrogate in 1942. He studied modern languages at Cambridge, before doing research in Dutch and completing his doctorate on The development of Imagery in the Poetry of P.C. Boutens.
He moved to Scandinavia in 1968 and has lived most of the time since then in the Danish city of Odense, in the middle of the quiet island of Fyn.
He has been active as a translator of poetry for many years. His translations of Dutch poetry include such writers as Hugo Claus, Albert Hagenaars, Gerrit Komrij, Rutger Kopland en Victor Vroomkoning. He is a regular contributor to Poetry International in Rotterdam.
John Irons also translates from Danish, French, German, Norwegian and Swedish. He has translated work by such authors as Klaus Høeck (Denmark), Torild Wardenær (Norway), Lars Gustafsson (Sweden) and Friedrich Hebbel and Friedrich Hölderlin (Germany) into English.
Besides poetry, his translations specialise in art, philosophy and education. A complete list of his activities can be found at: http://johnirons.blogspot.com.
In 2007 John Irons made his debut as a poet, by publishing the collection ‘Pa’ in both English and Dutch (translated by Eva Gerlach). Recently he has also translated ‘Pa’ into Danish.

Indonesian born Juni Kusumanto (º1957) has lived in The Netherlands since the age of twelve. She attended the Academy of Arts in Breda. Now, after many exhibitions throughout the country, she is seeking a dialogue with contemporary art in Indonesia and in other Southeast Asian countries.
Despite her Indonesian roots, Juni does not let herself be restricted in this respect:. “If imposed by my Indonesian background, my hand would be clumsily and unnaturally steered. If feeling free, new or hidden elements –either Indonesian features or western elements- may unfold and take shape. When drawing or painting, my hand is directed to draw lines on blank material or on traces of previous lines and forms. The repetitive wiping, redrawing and improving of lines is my learning process and game-like labour –as in real life- in order to eventually present a balanced creation.”
In her works, forms and lines –some strong, others subtler- are given shape in such a way that these become either figurative or abstract in character. The artist mainly uses black and white. Symbolically, white may project neutrality or sacredness. On the other hand, it can represent an extreme atmosphere of brightness and heat. Black may symbolize the negative (e.g. as in black magic) while in a positive way, black can mean the unlimited or the untouchable. For her drawings and paintings the artist uses acrylic paint, oil paint, pencil, crayon, stylus and ink on paper, canvas or synthetic material.
Translation: Yanti Kusumanto

Ivan Sagito (º1957), who also operates under the alias Ivan Sagita, was born in Malang (East Java). He studied painting at the Faculty of Art and Design (ISI) in Yogyakarta (1979-1985) and earned a Fellowship Artists in Residence - Vermont Studio Centre in the USA in 2003. He has skills in several artistic disciplines but is known mostly for his painting and sculpture. His work distinguishes itself with realistic reproduction, psychological charges and the quest for what’s behind the scenes we think we observe. Often there is a tacit tension between the individual and the group, between individual development and conformism. In the words of Claire Wolf Krantz: “Sagito depicts puppets and masks, humans and animals in landscape settings. His figures are lonely but never alone; although seen in groups, they are separated from each other and neither look at nor touch one another. The figures' incompleteness and lack of stability imply a feeling of uprootedness: unlike group identity, an emerging self has no fixed definitions.” (from: ‘Report from Indonesia: On their own terms’). Ivan Sagito had solo exhibitions in Australia, Indonesia, The Netherlands and the USA and joined group exhibitions in China, Japan, Singapore and South Africa. He won the Award Biennale Seni Lukis Jakarta twice, in 1987 and 1989, and was also rewarded with a Silver Medal at the Osaka Triennale 1996 as well as with the Mainchi Broadcasting System Prize 1998 for his sculpture, also in Japan.

Agung Soemitro was born in Indonesia’s second largest metropolis Surabaya in 1967. Although he was interested in literature, he studied accountancy at Universitas Narutama in the same city and worked with the bank BDNI for several years.
In the meantime he was active for AFS (American Field Service), an international, voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. The activities are based on the core values of dignity, respect for differences, harmony, sensitivity and tolerance.
In 1997 he visited The Netherlands for the first time and decided to emigrate to the country where he already had friends. Two years later he arrived again, this time to stay. He took up residence in Bergen op Zoom and successfully studied NT2 (Dutch as a Second Language), including Dutch culture.
He worked unofficially as a translator for the foundation SCI-INN (Stichting Sociaal Cultureel Instituut Indonesië-Nederland) in Rijsbergen, which focuses on education and culture, scientific exchange, Indo-European heritage, emancipation of women and travel consults.
After his studies he preferred to work for international firms such as the Japanese company Ricoh, which moved its European distribution centre to Bergen op Zoom, and logistics enterprises like DHL and Mepavex.

ARFAN SUNYONO - Photo © Yahya Sartono
Arfan Sunyono (º1990) was born in Tawangmangu, a town on the slopes of Mount Lawu, near the kraton-city of Solo (Surakarta) in Central Java. His deceased father was a skilled wayang kulit worker (wayang kulit refers to flat puppets cut out of buffalo leather), his mother and two sisters sing and dance during traditional performances.
After high school, SMA, he studied one year at the Art Institute of Indonesia Surakarta (the former STSI) until lack of money forced him to stop. Since then he takes private lessons with painter Slamet Rohman and sculptor Sugeng Sumarmo in exchange for all kinds of errands.
Although his career just got underway, he already had a few exhibitions in Solo: in restaurant Solo Mio, a local technical school and Galeri Monyet Biru. He prefers painting and drawing but also uses other techniques, like stone carving and photomontage. His works show a special interest in Islam but at the same time in the old temples in the neighborhood, in the first place the mysterious Sukuh, dating from the Majapahit era. He likes working with musicians and poets. In this respect he designs stages for a gamelan orchestra in the neighborhood where he lives at present.
Arfan believes art should be both modern and respectful towards tradition. He regularly quotes Paul Gauguin: “The history of modern art is also the history of the progressive loss of art's audience. Art has increasingly become the concern of the artist and the bafflement of the public.”

Productive artist Entang Wiharso (º 1967) was born in the town of Tegal, Central Java and graduated in 1994 as Bachelor of Fine Art in painting at ISI (Institut Seni Indonesia) in Yogyakarta. Watching wayang performances as a child motivated him to become an artist.
Some of his points of interest are: 1) structural boredom in the modern art world, 2) visual language in communication, 3) tradition as rebellion and 4) symbols in visual language as a hiding place.
In the late nineties he experienced friction between the traditional and modern world, one of the reasons to move to America, where he was confronted with confusion once again. These experiences forced him to focus on themes like identity, alienation and intercultural encounters. “Entang Wiharso’s haunting images are hard to understand or explain. One has to come and see, absorb and delve into the layers of the artist’s frustration, anger and anxiety, but also into his ultimate resolve to keep hoping for our salvation from the imminent danger of destruction.” Carla Bianpoen in her critical review 'Entang Wiharso: Love me or die', The Jakarta Post, 28-10-2010.
He won many awards and had solo exhibitions in Indonesia, Hong Kong and the USA (where he and his American wife sometimes live in Foster, Rhode Island). So far he joined group exhibitions in China, Finland, Italy, The Netherlands, The Philippines, Russia and Spain.
Entang lives and works in his Black Goat Studio in Prambanan, Java.


Hi, it's growing .... am curious to see the final result. Splendid project! Salam manis dari
Edith Boesrie, Delft

What a beautiful cover picture! We are jealous. What's the situation down there? We think a lot about you.
Lukisan Painting Works, Breda

Strong work, I liked the whole sequence, very consequent. Containing thematic bigness.
Thomas White, Breda

Beautiful poems and a wonderful picture. Full of atmosphere!
Lieke Baartmans, Halsteren

While reading 'Palawija', admiring the beautiful illustrations, we feel again what it means to be homesick!
Hedy Ormel-Soedjono, Bergen op Zoom

Congratulations with the publication of this beautiful collection 'Palawija'.
Henny van Beem, Ariana Gallery, The Hague

Finally some poetry of yours that I can understand! These poems touched me deeply, especially "Pusar Bumi". Thank you. I think the Indonesian version is a little better than the English one. I am sorry I can't compare these texts with the Dutch original. Good luck with this book.
Widiwidiyono ("Mister Dino"), Cirebon

Such a gorgeous book, both externally and internally. Your magnificent poetry brought me back to the atmosphere of the most beautiful and also the most interesting part of Java. That culture, their way of thinking, woven into ALL...
My husband also appreciated it and was very much pleased to read what you had written for us on the title page.
Reading 'A Handful Of Earth' immediately brought up a lump in my throat. Then follows that delicate 'Reunion'.
Of course, sometimes you had mentioned a few things, but by reading this collection, the poems gain in meaning. Much success with this book.

Catharina Baggermans, Nuenen

Thank you so much for this beautiful work. Splendid. We were once in Pangandaran. That was "the max" for us, as we say in Flanders.
Willy Vanheers, Brugge

Thanks for PALAWIJA. Looks great. Funny that so many people joined the project. Well, I will study PALAWIJA this week, during my night shift.
Frans Mink, Steenbergen

Very good that some Indonesian poems, though translations, are spread in the west. That happens too seldom. My compliments for the versions by Pak Agung Soemitro. If you didn't know these are translations, you would swear they are original Indonesian products. The atmosphere, the magic, the interest for the Javanese tradition and, last but not least, the respect for our older people, yes all this together makes one's heart beat a little faster. Well done!
Pak Bagong, Jepara

I feel, although vaguely still, that this could turn out to be quite captivating work!
Joris Iven, Diepenbeek

It's just fantastic that this poetry helps me to get to know people who put creativity in the heart of their lives. Thank you very, very much.
Carien Stevelmans, Bangkok

'Palawija' is pervaded, to the full extent, with the atmosphere of the Orient, qua design, qua illustrations, qua text. One senses in these poems the hidden rituals in each syllable, the gleaming of the moonlight on the palm leaves.
Jan Wessendorp, Bergen op Zoom

What a fuss about a few poems. Poetry will never change the world, make it a better place! Stop writing, get something DONE to help the people in need. Act, in the name of the Holy Book, inch'Allah!
Bazir Ashari, Solo

ON THE ROAD // Words, like a bridge towards the horizon / my mind running amuck, attempting to comprehend / your words in defiance of my perception / failing recognition // Questions, questions in the night / fighting peace of mind / which bait my fantasy / and play with my senses // Then, at last / with a smile of acknowledgement / the beauty of poetry pervades / and I can continue living / richer this time.
Sonn Franken, Bergen op Zoom

Beautiful poems and subject matter. Quite special also is the trilinguality of the collection, which helps to unite the distinctive cultures. I was touched most by the last three poems, perhaps because I can sense there the proximity and 'adat' of the place where my love's cradle once stood.
Pien Storm-Van Leeuwen, Chaam

Very special, these wonderful poems from the area where I was born (in Klaten), which I know by many family stories. In a way I still feel attached to the Javanese culture.
Jan Willem Storm-Van Leeuwen, Chaam

Once more, I have read carefully the poems and their Indonesian translations. It is beautiful. One notices that the Indonesian language is still young, but the translation is well done. Excellent.
M. Pattimahu, Roosendaal

A strong, personal collection! Also beautiful illustrations. Interesting with that English translation. Thanks!
Auke Leistra, Zwolle

Congratulations with this book. A good taste of what you have in store for us!
Magda van der Ster, Tholen

A striking book, further enhanced by the fine illustrations. I’ve put a poem and link on my blogspot. Yours aye,
John Irons, Odense

Put together, isolated from their former context the cycle forms a completely different chain. Strongly personal, a little religious in the undertones, affectionate. Take care, warm greetings.
Wim van Til, Huppel

The more I read these poems, the deeper I explore their different domains, the more I get the feeling I'm involved, somehow, although I've never been in Asia. Yet! Consider this a compliment.
Especially the illustrations by Ivan Sagito and Arfan Sunyono make a good match with their poetic counterparts!

Jean Raeymaeckers, Aix-en-Provence

Good to see the developments. The relation with both Indonesia and love is more than obvious. Well, it is a heart that speaks, isn't it? Terrific. Have a bottle of champagne!
Aleid Tenkink, Winterswijk

I'm moved by these poems. They are so beautiful, written from inside to such an extent. The illustrations are gorgeous as well.
Johanna Kruit, Biggekerke

Congratulations on the new book, Palawija, published by Pendopo in Yogyakarta. Good to see that you remain active, that you keep open your poetic vein.
I was in Yogyakarta in 1976, where I met Rendra twice, at his place and in the polytechnical school where he gave a lecture. He had three wives then. Rendra passed away a couple of years ago. I spent some time with publisher Oejeng Soewargana, who had a house in Yogyakarta but was living in Bandung most of the time. The telephone number for Bandung only counted 5 digits then. I still see those narrow roads around Bandung for me, while I was traveling in an old Volkswagen, in the mountains covered by mist (clouds), between the tea plantations.

Jasper Mikkers, Tilburg

I’ve been reading the book intensively and must admit that it is once again an admirable sample of linguistic art. So now and then I still have to immerse myself in the line of reasoning but it is not difficult at all to come up with images of my own. I regard especially ‘Surrender’ as very strong. The translations are beautiful. I don’t master, of course, the Indonesian language but the English versions certainly strengthen the booklet. Chapeau!
Richard de Weert, Putte

In ‘Palawija’ you open up a relatively unknown world for me, in a way so characteristic for you: using precise images and sharp formulations. I read it with pleasure and enjoyed the illustrations.
Nick J. Swarth, Tilburg

I read your poems. The first ones beguiled me more than the last ones. They are more real I think. The drawings / illustrations vary in quality.
Frans Brocatus, Chaam

I'm sorry dear Albert. I tried, in vain, a few times to understand these poems but they are too difficult, or I am too stupid of course :). There are too many interpretations and no real answers. I like an image here and there and some of the illustrations are marvellous, e.g. the ones by Arfan Sunyono and Dees Goosen, but in general this greedy reader (not used to reading poetry to be honest) gets too little. You certainly succeeded however to catch the atmosphere of the tropics, o yeah. Well done! I feel it around me, every day, every night, constantly. I live in poems like yours. So let me just enjoy experiencing them, instead of reading and studying your stanzas. Good luck with the book. Don't wait too long to come back!
E.P. Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia

I have been reading the poems and especially the Indonesian translation again and again. Beautiful! One can see the Indonesian language is still young but this translation is really well done. Splendid! Precisely what I think and feel.
J. Pattimahu, Roosendaal

Whether you may call this poetry or not, Palawija does fascinate. The book is made with integrity and deep within us lies simply a voyeur.
Lauran Toorians, Loon op Zand

Sorry for reacting so late. I had some serious problems I will tell you about later. Last weekend I read the book over and over again and little by little I discovered the hidden (well, maybe you didn't hide anything, maybe I am just a relatively unexperienced poetry reader) connections and symbols. It seems Mr. Irons did a great job, as far as I may speak about his translation. I still remember enough Dutch to compare though. Unfortunately I can't make anything of the Indonesian version. What about a German version some day? I hereby order a copy of 'Bloedkrans', so that I can see how you worked out the 'Palawija' themes in a different setting. Please keep me informed. Tschüss!
Detlef Holzkämper, Cologne

This is a book after my heart. The multilingualism and interaction with visual arts: breaking up new ground, crossing lines, really is my thing.
Roger Nupie, Sint-Job in 't Goor

Palawija betekent in het Bahasa (de officiële taal van Indonesië) de derde oogst. Java kent drie oogsten per jaar, twee van rijst en een derde van een ander gewas, dit om de vruchtbaarheid van de bodem te respecteren - met de woorden van de dichter: om de bodem niet uit te putten / vervangt men hier na elke tweede oogst / de rijst eenmaal door maïs of bonen. De aarde en hoe men er mee omgaat: voor Albert Hagenaars voldoende inspiratie voor een reeks van zeven gedichten over de levenscyclus, die hij inleidt met Een handvol aarde, door de schepper / als openbaring met liefde geschonken. De bundel is op een interessante manier samengesteld. Dit is niet louter een cyclus van Nederlandstalige gedichten waar ook de Engelse en Indonesische vertaling van opgenomen werd. Door elke reeks afwisselend in het Engels, Indonesisch of Nederlands te beginnen, zijn de talen en teksten evenwaardig. Dat de dichter ooit nog werkzaam was als beeldend kunstenaar en galeriehouder zullen we geweten hebben: hij zorgde zelf voor een illustratie en nodigde zes Indische en Indonesische kunstenaars uit om hun medewerking te verlenen aan deze uitgave. Vooral het werk van Ivan Sagito en Edith Bons weet te intrigeren. Door de reproducties van de beeldende kunstenaars vóór de reeks gedichten te plaatsen zijn het meer dan louter illustraties: ze lichten de teksten bij, vergroten er een aspect van uit, voegen er een dimensie aan toe, werpen er een eigen of ander licht op.

Agung Soemitro zorgde voor de Indonesische vertaling. Een selectie van de Engelse vertalingen, van de hand van John Irons, verscheen eerder in twee bloemlezingen bij Demer Press: Poppies and Chamber Music (2010) en Voices from Everywhere (2011), maar deze uitgave bevat voor het eerst de volledige cyclus in drie talen.

En de dichter (onwetende die ik nog ben)? Hij maakt kennis met het land, buigt het hoofd vanwege zo weinig eigen macht en… vindt er zelfs de liefde:

Na zoveel woorden op bloedeloos papier
gelijkt jouw glimlach die van de reliëfs
in lavasteen overal om ons heen, volle lippen

die zich om meer dan mijn taal zullen sluiten

De lezer krijgt de neiging terug te keren van het ene naar het andere gedicht, van de ene naar de andere taal, van het beeld naar het woord. Deze poëtische levenscyclus blijft ons in zijn greep houden, en dat met een handvol gedichten, een handvol aarde.

Een handvol aarde, door de schepper
als openbaring met liefde geschonken.
Jouw naam, maar ik geloofde niet

in mezelf en sprak nog een woord Javaans

en joeg verder, andere lokkende landen in,
spiegelend wat de mens zichzelf onthoudt.
De meester, jouw grootvader, had het voorzegd:

Kort na mijn heengaan keert hij weerom.

Jij bleef dus wachten, boeddhistisch duldend
dat ik steeds nauwere cirkels om je trok,
een roofvogel, verliezend aan vleugelslag,

winnend aan scherpte in blik