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

maud

‘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.

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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!

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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’:

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.