Author: intrepidtongues

‘A wonderful way to end the year – and our degrees’


‘Not only was the theory and the literary side of this semester’s module fascinating, but the chance to organise and host an event at the Dutch Centre was a wonderful way to end the year – and our degrees.’

Rachel Jackson

The event is over, the essays, interviews and reviews have been written even the marking is nearly over. The only thing left is sharing the result.

Here is report of the project on the newspage of the Internationale Vereniging van de Neerlandistiek: Intrepid Tongues wordt Dappere tongen.


Coming to a Dutch Centre near you…

Eindelijk moeten wij bijna niet meer wachten- het is nog zes dagen tot Intrepid Tongues gastheer is tijdens een avond vol poëzie en presentaties bij het Dutch Centre in London. Vandaag hebben we de laatste details gladgestreken en natuurlijk veel koffie gedronken- wat leuk?!

First on the agenda was a debrief from the financial team. They informed the group that their careful planning had quite literally paid off and funds for the event were under control. One of the largest expenditures was the coach down to London, so the next issue to arise was whether we were going to fill it. The answer- of course! Being so close to the end of the academic year, it was agreed that the event was a fantastic final excursion for students and staff from one of the largest departments of Dutch in the UK.

Having never organised an event which includes live performances, it was interesting for the group to learn about the technical side of things. The word ‘rider’ is now an implicit part of our vocabulary and a sound-savvy is on board and ready for the 8th. It was also decided that a photographer and film crew should be present at the event in order to document the proceedings and create a little memento of the evening.

The publicity team informed the group of their tireless communication efforts- the amount of phone calls made and emails/letters written to publicise this one off event is astonishing. Intrepid Tongues have also been omnipresent on various types of social media. Twitter and Facebook, in addition to the project website, provide an excellent platform to not only promote the event but also communicate with the performers involved and potential audience.

Finally, the schedule for the day was discussed and the running times of the event were decided. We very much look forward to introducing Maud Vanhauwaert and De Gebroeders Fretz for what promises to be a spectacular evening of poetry and performance.

En een laatste punt- we hebben het gehaald! Jullie kunnen Intrepid Tongues op de Universiteit van Sheffields’ student home page vinden!


Intrepid Tongues recreate Maud Vanhauwaert’s ‘Poëzie en public’

Members of the Intrepid Tongues team, Victoria Beardwood and Amy Sheffield, attempted to recreate one of Flemish poet, Maud Vanhauwaert’s videos, ‘Poëzie en public’, in Sheffield. Here they recount their experiences and present the footage from their shoot.

Amy’s experience:

Following the success of our Skype interview with De Gebroeders Fretz, we were all excited to chat to Flemish poet Maud Vanhauwaert and arrived on Friday armed with plenty of questions about her first poetry bundle Ik ben mogelijk. In our first meeting at the beginning of the semester, we watched a video of Maud performing her poem ‘Zullen we wachten?’. The video, which you can see below, sees Maud reciting lines of the poem to passers-by on the streets of Belgium and the responses from the general public certainly make it highly entertaining to watch! In an attempt to really get to grips with Maud’s poetry and to see what the reaction of the Sheffield public would be, we decided it would be a fun experiment to translate Zullen we wachten into English and make our own video on the streets of Sheffield, using lines from the poem in both Dutch and English.

We began our afternoon of filming with great trepidation. Translating the poem had been the easy part, but now both Victoria and I were coming to terms with the terrifying idea of walking up to random people and asking them if we should “wait until our children are grown.” However, we put on our brave faces for the sake of art, and chose the traffic lights outside the main University library as our location. We then agreed to take it in turns embarrassing ourselves in public and the video camera.

At first, the challenge was getting the people we were talking to to even acknowledge us. This may have simply been due to the noise of the traffic, but then again they may have just decided to ignore the crazy person talking about strawberries! Finally people began to respond, some politely replying “yes”, when asked, “should we wait”, while others gave us some wonderfully dirty looks. We filmed for about an hour, at the traffic lights and outside the doors of our departmental building and it did not get any less scary. An edit showing our endeavors has been made for your amusement.

During our interview with Maud I got the chance to ask her how she felt doing this kind of performance poetry and she admitted to being nervous, which I took comfort in. She also told us that she uses the city as her inspiration, which I think is clear to see from both her videos and Ik ben mogelijk. She seems very interested in people, how they go about their day-to-day lives, and how much they are willing to share with a stranger when given the opportunity.

Maud’s original video:


Victoria’s experience:

Before reading Maud Vanhauwaert’s poetry bundle, Ik ben mogelijk, we were first shown a video she had made, called ‘Poëzie en public’. In this clip, she recites lines from her poem, ‘Zullen we wachten?’ to unsuspecting strangers on the street. The Belgian public’s reaction proved extremely interesting, with the camera managing to capture some rather amusing moments, touching moments and very normal responses too. I loved Maud’s video and the idea behind it, and thought it would be an interesting experiment to try to recreate a similar video on the streets of Sheffield. Thus, Amy and I translated ‘Zullen we wachten?’ into English, grabbed a camera and mustered a modicum of courage before venturing into Sheffield and reciting poetry.

The nature of the poem – being almost entirely made up of interrogative phrases such as “zullen we wachten tot onze kinderen groot zijn?” and “zullen we wachten tot de aardbeien rood zijn?” – lent itself to the situation, as people initially thought we were just asking them a question. This was especially the case with the line, “shall we wait?” – as one might expect. When people realised, however, that what we were saying was more poetical than literal, they generally grew confused and uncomfortable.

We had various reactions to our public poetry. A few people simply laughed, when filming at traffic lights, some people responded to “shall we wait” with a bemused “er…yes”, and a few people just walked away. Every now and then someone would have a conversation with us, which was my favourite result as it meant the poetry had led to something real and led to us communicating with people. It was also my favourite result simply because it was quite amusing. I asked a man “shall we wait until our children are grown?”, to which he responded, “but we don’t have any children…”.

Overall the experiment was really interesting to do, although we filmed for just over an hour in total and didn’t get as much useful footage as I’d have liked. However, we spoke to Maud about this in our Skype interview and she said that she had to do a lot of filming in order to achieve her two and a half minute video. I’d love to have another go at this, but for a longer time, speaking totally in English, using a microphone and really acting out the poetry we recite.

Victoria and Amy’s version of ‘Poëzie en public’:

Creating new bridges -//- Creating new potential

The Intrepid Tongues team took part in a second Skype interview to meet Belgian performance poet Maud Vanhauwaert. After being introduced to her charming housemates – a rescued cat and chirpy canary – we were intrigued to find out about Maud’s poetry-writing process. Through her honesty and openness, we were privileged to gain a brief insight into her experience as a poet.


Maud’s collection Ik ben mogelijk, uses words to paint pictures. She juxtaposes seemingly disconnected images, which evoke a touching and whimsical sentiment. Maud challenges the reader to construct bridges to connect unrelated notions such as the ‘Man in Kinshasa’ and the ‘West-Vlaamse boer’. The honesty her poems present, strike a sincere and intimate chord.

Click here to listen to a short clip from our chat with Maud:

Maud brings an often closed and exclusive art form to the forefront of society through her public performances. She is compelled to bring her poetry to life and not confine her work to words on paper. In doing so, she hands over total freedom of interpretation to her audience. Maud is less interested in performing on a political podium; rather she is more concerned with the possibilities of where imagination can take us. Her collection, Ik ben mogelijk, was so named with these possibilities in mind.


We look forward to meeting Maud in person on 8th May!




Fretz Photos

Today the Intrepid Tongues team had the privilege of skyping with Maud Vanhauwaert to discuss her poetry collection, Ik ben mogelijk. There will be a blog about that soon but, until then, here are a few photos from our Skype session with De Gebroeders Fretz last week.

“Art is an effective way to stir things up”

9789048811397_achieversIn preparation of our Intrepid Tongues Event on 8 May, the Intrepid Tongues team in Sheffield conducted a Skype discussion with Johan Fretz and Marcel Harteveld (Amsterdam) on 28 March 2014. Johan Fretz’ novel Fretz 2025, which was published in 2012, took centre stage.

“Stir things up”: the novel

Fretz 2025 is set on polling day 2025. Twelve years from now, the political landscape of the Netherlands still feels very familiar: ambitions and ideals are either fettered by practical objections and cynicism or smothered in too much meaningless detail. That is until Johan Fretz decides to swap the theatre for the political arena.

Fretz, who shares more than the name with the author of the novel, enters the race to the ‘Catshuis’ with a grand narrative of unity and on the back of his skills as an orator. Idealism, community, togetherness, patriotism, Fretz brings it all back to Dutch politics. But will it bring him electoral success?


The Gebroeders Fretz are currently touring the Netherlands with their theatre performance that sprung from Fretz 2025 the novel. On 8 May they will share extracts from Johan Fretz’ political campaign.

Real political ambitions?

The relationship between art and politics remains a key concern, which dominated our  discussion. The ficticious politician Johan Fretz shows considerable overlap with the author and actor Johan Fretz. So how real is this story? Will we be welcoming the future Prime Minister on 8 May?

Here is a short clip (in Dutch) from the discussion in which Johan comments on his political ambitions and on how art can be more effective than politics: ‘art is an effective way to stir things up’.

Zullen we wachten?


In this poetry performance by Maud Vanhauwaert, she asks passers by on the streets of Antwerpen: zullen we wachten? As Maud approaches a series of strangers, we are completely captivated by their responses to such an endearing and unassuming question. Holding only a little yellow suitcase, this upbeat and non-threatening character sweeps us away with her sincerity. Warm als een wang. The heartwarming responses from her unwitting audience are equally as charming. Both witty and touching, this little clip is definitely worth a watch!

Zullen we wachten…tot onze kinderen groot zijn?
Zullen we kussen? Of zijn we bang?

14 FEBRUARY 2014

We have a date! Our event INTREPID TONGUES will take place in London on 8th May 2014 at The Dutch Centre, Austin Friars. As students of Dutch from the University of Sheffield, our project for this semester is to organise and promote a cultural evening with performances from Dutch and Flemish artists. We will be working with cabaret duo, De Gebroeders Fretz, and finalist of the Leids Cabaretfestival, Maud Vanhauwaert as they blend the themes of art, literature and society.

We aim to investigate the relationship between art and society through a dialogue with the artists and through theoretical exploration. During our weekly group sessions, we endeavour to underpin a few key concepts and examine various attitudes and ideologies.

  • What are the features of postmodernism?
  • Is there a collective aspect to humanity which ties us all together?
  • What is irony?
  • What is the function of art in / for society?
  • Does literature (still) change the world?
  • Should artists feel responsible for society or is art simply an expression of the individual?