Friday, 28 November 2014

From one poet to another

I seldom receive a poem written to/about me by another poet. I had the privilege to receive TWO poems by two different poets on the weekend of the McGregor Poetry Festival in October. They both wrote it spontaneously during my two performances at the festival. They were both happy that I post it here. 

It is rare for me to post other poets' work onto my blog. In this case I thought it appropriate to share their poems here.  <

The first poem by Archie Swanson -  he wrote it during my piano and poetry recital continents of sound < 

manic wind

Written during the piano and poetry recital by Lara Kirsten
2014 Mcgregor Poetry Festival

the manic wind
is howling outside the curtain-less window
bushes flail
dust is strewn
the first summer south-easter has visited mcgregor
outside the light is fading
dusk is blanketing down
like a slow dew

you sway
as if driven by the wind
the music rises
notes scatter
they feed into you
and you feed into the music
as it spirals
into a tight musical dna helix
umbilicaly joined to your soul
it is your life poured out

we listen
witnesses drawn into the fray
drawn into your heart
as the notes reverberate
ever faster
ever louder
your blurred fingers flail the keys
we are raptured
to another place
snatched like leaves lifted in a storm
emotions flow
happiness and melancholy mix

your poems are delivered with every fiber of your being
new earth / music / ripe grapes / exuberance of sound

at the piano
you sit
bolt upright
as your loving eyes pour over the score
it’s as if you are being filled by your love
and always faithful
your love gives back to you
the wind still roars outside
yet now there is a gentle peace
within the room
debussy’s clair de lune
drawing us ever deeper
within our own souls

granados playera opus 5 number 5
i see alhambra with its majestic ramparts
towering above orange groves
and in the manicured gardens
fountains falling
into crystal-clear pools of spring water
reflecting the shimmering summer sky

clad in black
you are like a lithe cat
i have a fleeting image
of you streaking across parisian rooftops
past sentries of chimneys
silhouetted for an instant
against an amber moon
as you scale unchartered heights
toccata opus 54
it is dizzying

your hands rest
your voice is still
we are changed
stars set in the black, velvet mcgregor sky
wink almost approvingly
as the languid breede river
meanders through the sleeping vineyards

 - Archie Swanson, 1 November 2014

* * *

Here the second poem by Bruce William Haynes  - he wrote it during my poetry recital into the deep salt of the ear and paper <

Lara, self-proclaimed garlic of poets
barefoot, airborne, volcano
how can one help but feeling boring before your
burning restlessness
let me lead the scientist
searching for the definition of life
here into Caritas
at this McGregor Poetry Festival
to observe
your urgent bellows intake of breath
at the small of your neck
as you kneel
wide eyed in the dirt
before the fire of your life
Thank you Lara
for the gift
of the sparks
of your short-lived stars

 - Bruce William Haynes

Thank you to both poets who have captured something so much more personal and magical than any recording or photo ever could.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

continents of sound

I performed the following poems in my last piano recital continents of sound in Stanford last month in the Western Cape. It is a series of poems that I have been using in some of my other recitals in collaboration with other musicians - clarinetist Morné  van Heerden, cellist Francois le Roux and flutist Thomas de Bruin. These poems have given the recitals a strong sense of cohesion and drama. Personally I think the words have a wonderful way to balance the intensity of the musical moments. I have received very inspiring feedback on the poems. They have been coming a long way with me -  each one has its own story and inspiration. They have been flashes of lightning as well as globes of grapes in my mouth. They have given me strength with each performance. It has been very fulfilling to realise just how closely woven my poetry and music can be at times. I thought it is now a good time to publish them here. 

I indicate the piano pieces to give an idea of the music that I played in continents of sound.

 >>> Improvisation <<<


Nuwe Aarde

dit is daar waar ek wil wees
daar waar kontinente van klank
uit my keel en vingers vloei
en ek aan 'n hele
nuwe aarde geboorte gee

New Earth

that is where I want to be
there where continents of sound
flow from my throat and fingers
and i give birth
to a whole new earth

>>> Beethoven Sonata <<<


boorling van hierdie klank-aarde

my vingers omvou elke vou en hoek
van die klank se lyf
voel sonder om te sien
die glans
die deining
die gly kontoere
van toon-organika
wat in die hemelvuur
boorling van hierdie klank-aarde
gelouter word

inhabitant of this sound-earth

my fingers fold over every fold and corner
of the body of sound
feel without seeing
the shining
the undulation
the smooth contours
of tone-organica
that is fired in heaven's flame
into inhabitant of this sound-earth

 >>> Schubert Impromptu <<<


o, Musiek

dit is waar klanke gebore word met aardse lywe
en ons die herinnering van premordiale frekwensies
in ons honger ore kan hoor sing
en die hart kan net juig oor musiek
wat so diep tref

oh, Music

this is where sounds are born with earthly bodies
and we can hear the memory of primordial frequencies
sing in our hungry ears
and the heart can only rejoice over music
that strikes so deeply

 >>> Debussy Clair de Lune <<<


ryp druiwe

die musiek-klanke val
ryp druiwe
die lug
vol trosse kom lê soet-soelig diep binne my oor
draai om en om in
'n hemelse taai mallemeul
in die ingewandes
my siel
die rillings breek uit oor my kopvel
en die toppe van my skouers
ek is bang as
die stilte
gaan kom
ah, om verewig in die hand van klank te lê
daar waar dit resonerend warm is
vat my nie weg van hierdie klank!
kom musiek,
kom val
soos ryp druiwe
in my oor
bederf my
'n oomblikse versadiging

ripe grapes

the sounds of music fall
ripe grapes
the sky
full bunches come lie sweet-sultrily deep inside my ear
turn round and round in
a heavenly merry-go-round
in the guts
my soul
the thrills break out over my head
and on the tops of my shoulders
i am scared when
the silence
will descend
ah, to lie forever in the hand of sound
there where it is so resonantly warm
take me not away from this sound!
come music,
come fall
like ripe grapes
in my ear
spoil me
a momentary satiation

>>> Granados Playera <<<


uit die resonante holtes van lyf

uit die resonante holtes van lyf
breek die stem oop
en sing oor die ganse aarde
die lied wat
in drome klink
deur skeure breek
in murg gaan sit
en nie laat los
totdat dit lyf vervorm tot
transendentale beswyming

from the resonant cavities of body

from the resonant cavities of body
breaks open the voice
and sings over the whole earth
the song that
sounds in dreams
breaks through the cracks
clings onto the marrow
and does not let go
until it reforms body into
one transcendental swoon

 >>> Improvisation <<< 

>>> Chopin Polonaise <<<


verrukking van klank

vlugtig vlieg die ritmes uit my vingers
en draai ek in 'n kolk van ekstatiese malkoppigheid
totdat swart en wit,
spier en hout,
ek en jy
een word
die musiek ons vasboei
die melodie ons in hegtenis neem
en die wispelturigheid van die sikloniese ritmika
ons verewig gevangene hou
in die verrukking van klank

exuberance of sound

flightily the rhythms fly from my fingers
and i turn in a whirl of ecstatic madness
till black and white,
muscle and wood,
you and i
become one
till the music shackles us
the melody takes us captive
and the moodiness of the cyclonic rhythm
ensnares us forever
in the exuberance of sound

>>> Gershwin Two Preludes <<<


ontmaskerende koorstigtelikheid
van klank

my vingers
skud die
sweet van
die klankekoors
oor die
gate van
ore wat
die toevoer
is na
die ondergrond
van julle
die kwiksilwer
in die
buis van
julle monde
breek oop
met die
druk hitte
van die
ontmaskerende koorstigtelikheid
van klank

unmasking feverability of sound

my fingers
shake the 
sweat of
the sound-fever
over the
holes of
ears that
are the
to the underground
of your souls
the mercury
in the
tube of
your mouths
breaks open
with the
pressured heat
of the
unmasking feverability
of sound

>>> Takacs Toccata <<<

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

McGregor Poetry Festival

In October I had the privilege to participate in the McGregor Poetry Festival.
I presented a piano recital continents of sound on the Saturday night at the beautiful Wahnfried hall and a poetry recital into the deep salt of the ear and paper / in die diep sout van die oor en papier on the Sunday morning in the Caritas library.

Here the logo for this year's festival <

What a blessed thing this poetry festival is. I was surrounded with like-minded people -  poets struck to the core by words and metaphors and itching to express it all, poets incantating from deep within their bowels and psyche the words we all need and want to hear. Words of healing, of beauty, humour, seriousness and purpose. As all good poems and poets do to me and hopefully do to the rest of the world - they bring forth an awakening of lessons and perceptions. 

I felt that I was given the best medicine during the three days of the festival.

I heard readings by Diana Ferrus, Toast Coetzer, Douglas Reid Skinner, Bruce Haynes, children reciting William Blake's Tiger Tiger with rhythmical beating of hands on hearts, poetry written on tables and walls, poetry hanging from trees and chalked onto sidewalks.

Ian McCallum's reading was a definite highlight. It is the second time I heard him perform - and still I am struck by what a formidably inspiring man and poet he is. Some lines made the tears well up from a deep wild recess in my soul. Here one of his poems he recited <

The rising

One day
your soul will call to you
with a holy rage.
"Rise up!" it will say ...
"Stand up inside your own skin."
Unmask your unlived life ...
feast on your animal heart.
Unfasten your fist ...
let loose the medicine
in your own hand.
Show me the lines ...
I will show you the spoor
of the ancestors.
Show me the creases ...
I will show you
the way to water.
Show me the folds ...
I will show you the furrows
for your healing.
"Look!" it will say ...
the line of life has four paths –
one with a mirror,
one with a mask,
one with a fist,
one with a heart.
One day,
your soul will call to you
with a holy rage.

In my own poetry recital I performed 19 of my poems selected from the last 6 years of writing. I was given a full hour slot - the first time that I was given this opportunity to fill this much time with my poetry! I performed in Afrikaans and English. I delighted in returning to the essensuality aspect of my poetry - tactile, edible, smellable; ritual and theatre of the tongue. With all the books and papers filled with my poetry I also packed in garlic for my Ode to Garlic and olives for my Poet-tree (see this poem at the end of this post) and filled a ceramic bowl with water for my Water poems. Here one of them < 


you are the fill
of my hands
with the delight of
on my tongue
and makes
the tremor
on my
the spin
in my head
to make
the celebration
of my
break open

I was so glad to get a cokey pushed in my hand and be requested to write on the wall of a restaurant

In the main road of McGregor you felt the poetry dripping from the lampposts and trees

...and we could write on tables

Ansa Smit gave a breathtaking performance of poems and unaccompanied songs in The Well in the Temenos Gardens

Here KwaZulu-Natal poet Bruce William Haynes who wrote the following poem for me during my poetry recital <

Lara, self-proclaimed garlic of poets
barefoot, airborne, volcano
how can one help but feeling boring before your
burning restlessness
let me lead the scientist
searching for the definition of life
here into Caritas
at this McGregor Poetry Festival
to observe
your urgent bellows intake of breath
at the small of your neck
as you kneel
wide eyed in the dirt
before the fire of your life
Thank you Lara
for the gift
of the sparks
of your short-lived stars

Thank you Bruce! What a joy to be gifted this poem by a superb poet like you.

Photo above - around the table of two incredible McGregorites Jo Nowicki and Mike Kamstra reading stories on topics such as women's beautiful breasts and "dode-rokke"

And here my poet-tree that I recited while feeding my audience with local McGregor olives <

>>> this poem does not work without an olive in your mouth <<<


my poem is the olive which i lay down on your tongue
you need no ears to hear this poem
you need no eyes to see this poem
my poem is the olive which i lay down on your tongue

this olive-poem is not shy to caress your tongue
like the fertile earthiness of tiny breasts
shameless in the weighing of its warm oily weightiness
in the hollow of your mouth

feel the olive
roll it between your teeth
press it against your palate
cuddle it into your saliva glands
feel the rhythm of the seasons playing in your throat
hear the songs of tree and wind resonating through your blood

this olive is the poem which i lay down on your tongue
feel the insuppressible growth of seed and
 stem and root and soul breaking 
through your buds
feel each olive-syllable dissolving
and merging with your flesh
and becoming
if only for one peristaltic moment..

all that remains is the pithy pip - 
weigh its lightness on your tongue
let it go
spit it out wherever you want
and pray a poet-tree
will grow there soon

A special thanks goes to Billy Kennedy, the visionary behind the Festival. Here an extract of my letter to him: I have felt such a deep connection with the Festival and you and the Poets that were involved in their magical ways and words.  I can not start to put in words what this type of event has meant for me - it was definitely a highlight of my year. I can say with utter conviction that McGregor was like a type of homecoming for me - and my poetry. A place where my voice could find air to rise in its fulness. These sacred places created for the performing arts and especially for poetry are rare. So I can only fold my hands (and feet ;-) together in a great gratefulness to you for playing such a significant part in the creating, holding and cherishing of this space. And thanks also goes to festival organiserJennifer Johnson and all the others who have been involved pulling strings, visions, emails and other comms together to orchestrate this awe-inspiring expression of poetic voices.