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ERIK LINDNER

Erik Lindner (born 1968) is a poet that is born in The Netherlands. He made his debute with Tramontane (1996) and published two books of poetry since: Tong en trede (Tongue and step, 2000) and Tafel (Table, 2004). In french translation a book was published in 2007: Terrain (Centre Internionale de Poésie Marseille / Spectres Familiaires, 2007). Erik Lindner lives in Amsterdam and works as a freelance literary critic.
 

"Erik Lindner made his debut in 1996 with Tramontane, a collection of poems without literary predecessors: Lindner did not join any group or movement. If there would seem to be any exterior influences in his work, these could best be described as 'accidental passers-by' - writers and philosophers who happened to cross the poet's path. In Tramontane one such passer-by is Walter Benjamin, whose motto 'Man's gaze is his edge" seems to offer a key to Lindner's poetry.

In his poems, the edge of man's gaze is the town, a room, or a landscape. Lindner tries to capture the casually perceived movements in language. His poetry is pervaded by the idea that the word creates a coherence. The idea is found again in Tong en trede (Tongue and step, 2000), a collection which, as poet Jan Baeke put it, evokes a reality "which in its seeming triviality brings to light all sorts of wonderful, intangible facets". This seeming triviality is primarily to be found in Lindner's images, although 'observations' might be a better word: he is a permanent wanderer, a passer-by, who carefully registers the tiny movements of life in a city or the apparent stillness in a room. "So a passer-by explains what passing is:/ a town you leave while you are staying there", he writes in the opening poem of the cycle 'Temporary stop'.

In Lindner's poetry each sentence seems to contain a new registration, and the 'rapid' succession of the observations suggests something like the continuous movement in reality, the chaos, or, in other words, the simultaneity of all those movements. But Lindner's poetry does more than record reality with almost cinematic precision. It also shows what the role of language is here: words order the incoherence of the commonplace, while simultaneously creating a 'membrane' between the poet and the perceived. Or, as the Belgian literary critic and scholar Yves T'Sjoen aptly puts it: "Lindner's poetry tries to be an image of motion that cannot be captured in language."

It altogether needn't be a surprise that cinema and Lindner's poetry make a good match. At the Amsterdam Filmmuseum Biennale 2003 he recited a new poem called 'Ostende' and parts of 'De sleutel"The key) while silent films like Images d’Ostende (1929, by Henri Storck) were being played. Both poems appear in his third collection, Tafel (Table, 2004), in which cinematic perception seems to have gained importance still. Many familiar places, figures and preoccupations from previous collections return in this new one, but Lindner very carefully avoids any repetition: his focus is on refining and subtly re-defining his registrations and definitions, thus steadily composing an expanding but impressively coherent oeuvre"

Janita Monna (Translated by Ko Kooman)
with thank taken from http://netherlands.poetryinternationalweb.org/piw_cms/cms/cms_module/index.php?obj_id=4004



FIFTEEN POEMS


Translated by Paul Vincent


To Acedia


1. She is where she saw him.
(A sideways glance
at the opposite lane.)

The case by his right foot.
A coat over the arm.

He asks: was her hand ever here?
He sits down on the upright case.

A hand burns on her abdomen
and a hand burns above
the revolving car tyre in the sun.

She wipes spittle from her lips.
She brushes sunlight from his suit.


2. When on her knee a filter cigarette
sticks into the opening of a matchbox,
she sticks a hand into her sweater's V-neck.
Her fingertips on the collarbone.

A pin on his suit. (Milk from the searchlight.)
Socks with fine stripes in. Thumb edge under a brooch.

A smile in a hankie kneaded to a yawn.

Nothing escapes her.
No one escapes her.

A tea towel with no motif.
A loaf with no oven.


3. I think those birds are just right for a boat trip like this
she says and on the railing
her hand masks the graffiti.

She has a dress round her neck.
The make-up's the day before's.
A gust of wind and her ear lobe's released.

His mouth seldom tastes
of the bunk in the hull.
Birds are tapping against the frame.


The tramontana

Off the coast the diver rests in his story
and sparsely draws the cliff behind the beach.
The wind cuts the story and wears and rubs
the leaves from off the plane trees - the window frame.

I had the wind behind me for this story.
The journey narrated a man walked over the mountain
and the tale gets bogged down in the sea. The wind

lords it over his grave. And the diver is trapped
among the stones, the helpers pop
up and the wind crushes the swell and the sea.

The diver's painting wind gusts off the coast.
The cliff’s in bloom. And the grave is a step
to the coral in a cavern on the bottom
above the colour engraving of the flower curtain.


*

There is blood in your lips
and yet the wind pipes

yet the tube rumbles
under the table so much
that your head slumps
and even a faint word
explodes in your ear

your hair is strewn
across the cloth
yet your eye opens
and weighs in the lamplight
the dust that vibrates in the air

and the stuff that descends on you
too small for the table
too fine for the wind.
 

Ourcq

From the ice-breaker clearing the quay
cracks dart though the layer of ice,
from one bank across to the other
the ship trembles the ice breaks up,
the surface tilts deep into the canal
and bulges and splits, crumbles and melts.

Now one can see
how heavy a swan must be.
Tough as its belly and webbed feet
Is the ice, not white but transparent.
Where it stands is a layer of water.

Someone scoops the ice from the fountain.
Someone stacks tiles in a crate.
Someone raises the bridge.

The ice-breaker approaches.
The swan stares without pause.


Ostend


1. A bone lies in the sand
of an island that doesn't stand still

the form is fixed
the history of the wind
the thrust of marrow and stone

the wind gets lost at sea
no wave has the same dimensions

sand colours red in the sun
on the race track where dust blows up
and the hooves the same rhythms pound
the hooves sand to fragments pound

across an island the wind roams
and reworks its previous prints
the marrow stone of the beach,
the race track on the coast
the rain in the sea.


2. The sea is the size of the wind
and overflows onto the marrow stone
worked by the wind for the sea

stones are invisible to the sea

a sandpiper walks past the wind
and with its steps counts
the loose particles of sand

and the tops of the waves blown off
and the flakes of the wind flown off

rolling creeping shifting pieces
of an island still for a moment
on the edge of the sea

the sand thrusts the marrow
hooves crush the stones
the sea bears the bone to the shore
the sand cools off in the wind

flakes measure the size
of a temporary island created
beneath the steps of the sandpiper

outside the wind
above the sea


*

A tree grows through the foliage
a door stands open above water

moss in a strip along the eaves
a greenhouse half lit

the roof of the lift has slid out of place
plaster falls through the shaft

between the factory and the street lamps stretch cables
cables run straight to the mast

on the bridge a hose sprays
traffic slows down and waits

that dog drags a lead along the ground
that cyclist pushes her skirt against her thigh

this piece of the paper blows round a branch.

*


The push-off with which a sponge wipes
the glass table in the library

the creaking of the steel gate sounds
a ship chafing the quay

seagulls around the square on the hill
a shutter opens halfway down the street

I get up and dress for yesterday
and walk along planks to the ferry

on car tyres coral stands out
in scales between jetty and bow

but my nails grow my callus
each water drop a contact lens

stares a season in quarantine
at how a door slams over the railing

the window beckons and the light paints
the chamois that’s taut on your skin.

*


The window opens a crack
and the table to here
breaks
at once

and the table's not by the window
but has moved next to me here
at the foot of the table
the cloth falls off the table

in the light of the window
the leaf bends an arm's length
a bar breaks at the elbow
in the drawer: crumbs paperclips

the cardboard wedge that keeps the table
straight and the window open

a shifting square over the table
touches the ground in one piece.
 


ID's (fragment)


1. What matters is just that it's somehow right
the chance to be a component, to belong
to a company, a collection. People
who get changed between the low hedges
and the barbed wire at the dune's edge.

Playing cards fall on a towel in the sand,
provisions under cloths in a wicker basket,
a dug-in bottle from the distillery
where one of us has worked that day.
We run like everyone else to the sea

and back again, tap sand from shoes on the footpath,
embrace what's left out in every conversation
when we part and know we're desolate when
the driver of a tram calls out his stops
to the solitary passenger.

Reason

Do not doubt that reason,
that reason, that reason, that reason.
A fly walks from the edge
to the centre of the table top
and back again, follows a few centimeters
of the side, enters the emptiness
of the pale white again, tries again
what I don't know and then takes off.


*

When I can escape my words no longer

or his voice that robs them of force, sounds, the
child is cut out

for the spreading of her locks

know then
that seldom

does a hand push and stop.

Pastille de menthe


It's the word that lies, not me, you know
what - what’s it to do with me?
I'm the guy who always disappears.
I'm the twin in her arms.

Our bones bedded in needs.
Our skin flakes off in the light.
Our uniform's motley, our eyes are blue.

We're equally unusual, you know.
We're both as constrained as sustained.
We're sat on the same lap.

Our ears are small in the field.
Our teeth are straight in line.
Our nails are cold, our flesh is lukewarm.

A lamp bends over the table
and leaves her standing.
The silent woman at table divides
what is ours from what is language's.


TEMPORARY STOP


1. Is this a town? Houses and tram
touch the street quite separately.

This an awning. A marble column.
A hair salon smelling of juice.

Here is a swimming pool. A glass front.
A shopping street where traffic doesn't fit.

She doesn't bend, wading through the paddling pool
and touching the crown of the child with her fingers.

At each movement on the photocopier
the supermarket door slides open.

So a passer-by explains what passing is:
a town you leave while you are staying there.


2. No one is silent for long in Ernie's Bar.

The owner's girlfriend dances
in the middle of the joint, reflects
rainbow-like in the clasp that lights up
and narrows her waist. All revolves around her.

The silver above the bar on the mirror
the projection through the smoke flower arrangements
in the window the slide screen half open
on loops low curtains, neighbours

going timidly past.


3. Look at the blood in that tray of lamb's liver.
The olive oil in tins. The ispanak in a crate.

The TV screen that’' bobbing in the canal.

Two people having a talk -
their foreheads resting against each other.

On the man by the slivered ice between
moustache and beard a paper sticks
while he digs into the tobacco.

Watch how the blood washes
off the flesh.


4. It isn't true
you're just standing
still by a window
the place near-perfect
as if the image came
because you came past.

You must be cold
to show something
in words you explain
the glass to the street
the man and his paper
temperament.

18 SEPTEMBER 1994


1. All that is born can disappear.

How on a boiling day a low bench
receives shade from seven olive trees.
How one's bottom goes clammy in contact
with massive and age-old stone.

How the tramontana breaks the sea's plane
and through penetrating light of a lazy sun
picks up and twirls the water's surface
in hurricanes yellow, blue, ochre, sand, water.

Vertigo can dissolve, directionless.

Swallows that dive like bats do
along the steep cliff behind the bench
where the path winds its way through three bays
but still points only to France.


2. Nothing dies willingly in Port Bou.

The girl from Aragon on the beach
takes her skirt off and lopes like an antilope
through the surf while her leather bag
holds a writing case with ironwork,
She's here only for this Sunday
that is like a nameless history.

An empty pedestal on a steel plateau.
Front garden of desolate customs post.
A rock that almost slides into the sea.
Give it designations colourblind
play of tramontana, wind as strong
as lofty mountains, makes you shiver in the sun.


3. All that is born can disappear.

The free provision of penicillin
and morphine. In the old pension room
two beds stand between a wall
of disease. You and I, who is the male one?

What is being a male? The scraping
of a blade across an inflamed throat,
how it feels to be shaved
one last time, for a party
you won't attend. Or how
a child laughing throws sand
at the sun. Falling and no
shame till you rise again.


4. All that is not born can also disappear.


Sand, roots, helm grass, tracks that never
ran here. The inhabitants who gaze after
the traveller but do not give his description.
Their gait still disturbed after the building

of a monument. Now, as the tramontana
licks at your body and picks up you and your glasses,
carries them along. Where the passage brings
the churchyard to the edge of the abyss above the surf.

Details of it only the short-sighted can find.
How it got here? Fifty years ago. To for-
get such a thing is barbaric. Even the defacing
of an artwork is a cultural expression.

I did this. Unscrupulous. Today. Date.



Klockmann


If there were a god he would have made you
ground your belly into which he blows air
with mouth and bellows stemmed your bleeding
and slid you tethered to a belt or chain
to a cool place in the oven

the knight is the only chess piece with eyes
its manes are straight as bones and fins
its muzzle reaches for the bishop's groove
the king's cross the rook and pawn
the ball on the queen's hat

but god becomes land consolidation macaroons
or anodized the ten-cent coin the sea stars
step up the fair the wheel of the watermill
not quite underwater the whiskers of an otter
jewels of a human being bathing and drying.


Provenance of the poems:
'Reason' and '18 September 1994' from': Tramontane (Perdu, 1996).
'Ourcq', 'I.D.'s' 'When I can escape my words no longer..'and 'Temporary stop' from: Tong en trede ('Tongue and tread', De Bezige Bij, 2000).

'To Acedia', 'The tramontana', 'There is blood in your lips...', 'Ostend', 'The window opens a crack...', 'Pastille de menthe' from Tafel ('Table', De Bezige Bij, 2004)

'A tree grows through the foliage...', 'The push-off with which a sponge wipes' and 'Klockmann', currently unpublished.


Notes:

'Ostend' is written with the silent movement Images d'Ostende (1929) from Henry Storck, for "35mm poem' at the first biennale of the Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, 2003.

'18 september 1994' is written at the monument from Dani Karavan for Walter Benjamin, who died in 1940 in Port Bou.

'Klockmann' is written for an exhibition of the jewellery of Beate Klockmann in Galerie Marzee in Nijmegen, 2006, courtesy of literary festival De Wintertuin.

 


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