Thursday, September 20, 2018

Poetic muse

Writing. The one(s) I adore. Life.

Last Saturday in Amsterdam, I conveyed my love of the pen, of people and ultimately, my unadulterated passion for life to the sweetest, most attentive and rapt audience any performer could wish for. 
I was that lucky. They raised the roof for my poetry.


At the beginning of July, I got the invitation to get off stage in Amsterdam. Basically, OFF STAGE is a "performance event that provides an alternative space for developing artists. The performers are invited to present their newest work to an open-minded audience. [They] bring the performances off stage in unconventional and intimate spaces that foster a creative camaraderie between artists and audience members – all while maintaining formal and professional standards of production." They were already preparing for their ninth edition; and so without hesitating for a second, I said yes. September 15th, 2018. 20h30. In the most refreshing of unusual venues: De Vondelbunker. Originally built as a nuclear shelter in the 1940s, this dainty little gem hidden under a bridge in Amsterdam's Vondelpark now serves an underground cultural space for concerts, art exhibits or events such as OFF STAGE. It was the right podium for me. A night of creative arts with "the same gezellig vibes" as in their previous gigs was promised; and for this first timer, the evening clearly delivered. 

2018 has been quite a magnificent year for my poetry. Only to name a few examples, back in January, EUROPSPORT UK borrowed my love letter to Berlin, my home away from home, in order to introduce the Snooker German Masters 2018. It blew me away. The 'promo' video was orchestrated in such a slick manner that I still kid that Colin Murray, the Northern Irish sports and music radio and television presenter who recited it, reads my own poetry better than I ever could. Samya Arif, a New York Times featured artist, illustrator and designer, also quoted “BERLIN” on her Instagram. She said that it captured her feelings about this unrivaled city. The Belgian company Vespacruz used my piece “Freedom” to endorse its rental services. From the start, I suspected that liberating ride on his red Vespa would go the distance. Literally, as it seems. Another case to back up my claim is Bulgarian photographer Aleksandrina Kovacheva, who was inspired by my piece “The nomad” for the introduction of her blog. And every time I published new material,, one of the largest poetry platforms around, was always eager to feature my work. I am not only honoured when my words manage to leave my nest and spread their wings across this vast digital jungle; but more than anything, sharing or citing my poems is for me the nucleus of unalloyed joy.

Sure enough, my poetry acquired a lot of exposure via various medias and projects these past months; yet the cherry on this mouth-watering cake was of course the opportunity to expose them in front of a live audience. Mark my words: writing in a notebook and publishing it online afterwards is another animal compared to reading for a crowd. A whole other game plan. My point is that you could be the best musician, DJ or poet in the universe; the art of performing is still a skill on its own –– a skill I am positive I do not master entirely. Although I have emceed at events, read in church and made presentations on countless occasions, as a result, making me fairly at ease with public speaking; I have to admit that I was entering an intimidating territory: in pre-production, the idea of divulging my own creations in the flesh brought out extreme jitters. Writing poems is my comfort zone, reciting them would kick me out of it. After all, I would be baring my soul.  Getting off stage may not have been my first time reciting my poetry, however, it was my biggest (off) stage to date, my first time traveling for a performance, moreover, it was by far the longest time slot I ever had at my disposal. Thus, while I was assembling notes for Amsterdam (naturally, last minute), I struggled between the need to (over) prepare and the desire to improvise. Eventually, in lieu of letting the nervousness get the best of me, I spent it to fuel me. I convinced myself that I was there to have fun. What happened, then, was magic. 

sound check
This is what happiness feels and looks like

I was the opening act. On D-day, my heart began to pounce hard again, but an hour and a half leading up to my gig, my dear brother Christian and his girlfriend Peggy managed to take the countdown factor to such a happy place. I was already having a remarkable time in Amsterdam with my amazing parents, to top it all, they decided to surprise me by showing up at the restaurant my mother reserved (which, I discovered later on, she could not have done. I should have known.) I was ecstatic. Upon arriving at Vondelbunker, my longtime friend Josip, who with his wonderful team, is my mastermind behind OFF STAGE, welcomed me and my family with open arms. 



Finally, engrossed in the thrill of the moment and slightly blinded by the spotlight, I held the microphone with confidence (and excitement), stood tall and had the time of my life. Again, the audience was downright perfect. Everything –– everyone was in sync during my three 'acts' just shy of twenty minutes. I was there to have fun. And I did –– so much that Saturday, September 15, 2018 will go down as one of the best days in my book. Above all, being part of something that showcases the science of creativity –– that intrinsic need to create, which I undoubtedly have in common with the spectacular artists that got off stage as well, is a special privilege. I am proud beyond words.

Best of my worlds at Vondelbunker
From Cavite and Zurich, in Amsterdam with love

Truth be told, I never deemed to be the type that does poetry readings. Before, my so-called 'only' interaction with a third party, in the strict sense, was to write –– and you read.  It was enough. Nevertheless, to have experienced this 'live' dialogue with my readers gave the nucleus of unalloyed joy a brand new spin. I am enamoured. 

A close friend once asked me where I get my inspiration. Who is your muse? This curiosity spurred by the idea that a number of my poems have at times a sad tone to them: Are you okay? Do you need me to call you?  Well, I retorted, not necessarily. Of course it goes without saying that any creation is, in a way, autobiographical –– an extension of oneself: I am the one holding the pen after all. That being said, this observation justifies one of the prime reasons as to why a blank page is my go-to accessory: writing allows me to travel and convert anything –– devastating or exultant, banal or essential, be it invented, my own or influenced by someone else’s story, ideas or feelings –– anything really, I will convert it into my personal vision on the page. Word for word, I can pin an instant on the map, I can rewrite the narrative, imagine it, revisit or completely reinterpret it. I am free to disinvite my +1 on paper. My professors at University never failed to remind me: do not confuse an author's biography with their piece. All I know is that the wont to create goads me, but I will firmly let my creation speak for itself; because once I seal the deal, my words somewhat do not belong to me anymore. They float around until someone reads them and makes them theirs. 

For the promotion of the event, OFF STAGE’s description of me indicated that I am "a traveler of the world who finds love wherever she goes." I do. I do find the ardent love to write, a deep appreciation for people and ultimately, my unadulterated passion for life anywhere I go. Indeed, TRUE LOVE is my poetic muse and as the chief "Into the wild" (2007) quote beckons, "happiness is only real when shared." Thank you OFF STAGE AMSTERDAM for letting me share what I love the most in the world with you! I lived a dream. Dank u wel!

Watch my poetry reading:

Poetry reading: That is what poets do

[Performed at #offstageamsterdam at Vondelbunker, 15.09.2018]

That is what poets do They romanticize pain They idealize the torment There is solace in darkness Which they craft to enlighten; Lure with words The forlorn is adorned Guilt is charming Mistakes rewarding That part that is revolting The best line in their poems. That is what poets do They embellish heartbreak To cement the heartache But as soon as they leave their paper and scenic thoughts captivated readers Life can no longer render The adequate metaphor Agony is agony; There is no substitute for it.

Poetry reading: THREESOME

[Performed at #offstageamsterdam at Vondelbunker, 15.09.2018]

I find myself Visualizing your glasses When he removes his. I imagine his crooked tooth When I see yours Impeccably aligned. I learned a new word today, Cafuné, Translates To the act of tenderly running one's finger through someone's hair. I grew fond of the act Long before Getting hold of the word. I know not whose I prefer Now his I adore But as much as I do yours.
This is a threesome Torn by emotions We have history, we share chemistry I love you Though I love him too Cannot think of him Without thinking of you This is a threesome I have come to loathe But the truth is I belong to both.


Poetry reading: I am a tourist in my own life

[Performed at #offstageamsterdam at Vondelbunker, 15.09.2018]

I am a tourist in my own life Everything I am feeling Is foreign land I cannot quite recognize This impasse Is it really I -- I am a tourist in my own life Should I not know by now What I am capable of What song I am supposed To play When I am having more Than two bad days Who is this person Staring back at me Here I am contemplating And she is not crying It is not I, it is not I I am a tourist in my own life What am I supposed to learn When the one teaching a lesson Is the one concerned I become Unknown territory to explore With old wounds and sorrows And now a new state of postwar It is I, it is I That has to reach out To stop being A tourist in my own life.


Poetry reading: TRUE LOVE

[Performed at #offstageamsterdam at Vondelbunker, 15.09.2018]

It all began on the night I came back Spotted one in the alley Thought its bright pink Had a pretty glow In the dark. Then I met one more And another; True Love spread All over town I would photograph Each one With my heart. Starting to look for it Proved to be The wrong habit; As it is written on the wall That is when I would least find it -- And once I had forgotten Out of nowhere Someone out there Made certain It was now time To be Reminded. True Love is everywhere True Love comes In all shapes and sizes Eternalized In the most symbolic places On that brick On a trash At times spelled backwards Others With a message I would cogitate on Long after. The last one Was that kind Its sense Divine; It read Love True And in my heart of hearts I knew; What makes Love true Is the way I love you.

Poetry reading: The poetry she cannot write

[Performed at #offstageamsterdam at Vondelbunker, 15.09.2018]

She lives the poetry she cannot write Not her words, A life that became hers. She has written fiction, Dreams and speculations; Until all turned into a tale She did not long to put on paper. She writes the poetry she cannot live Her words, Gives life when it is not hers. She has had desires, Loss and tantrums; Turned nightmares into tales On any piece of paper. She lives the poetry she cannot write Not her words, A love that finally became hers. She has written fiction, Heartache and expectations; That embrace in her coffee place He took away her pen.


Poetry reading: I will kill you with a metaphor

[Performed at #offstageamsterdam at Vondelbunker, 15.09.2018]

I will kill you with a metaphor My feelings censored Behind beautiful words. I dare not say it to your face The euphemism When I am burning with anger. Toying with the void Here I concoct The right expression; My sweet weapon Retort with an oxymoron. Then nothing; no paradox or pun I am even at a loss For a rhyme. For when our eyes meet It is poetry I read, Without a word We say it all.

Poetry reading: What happens when a writer is silenced

[Performed at #offstageamsterdam at Vondelbunker, 15.09.2018]

What happens When you are silenced Ideas fight Thoughts escape Words stranded -- A broken one On the tip of the tongue. Only an opinion counts -- Not your own Others, others talk And you listen Others, others argue And you stiffen What happens When you are silenced You hear everything Your voice, stolen All the questions You cannot answer Directed at you But others will respond it for you. Whatever I choose to say It would not have come out right anyway I will make it worse I will make it better The words stuck -- A broken one On the tip of the tongue. What happens When a writer is silenced It is the best thing that could happen I will not say a word Because you listen to your own. Words are my forte My weapon of love Of mass destruction I will let the truth That words cannot translate Speak for me instead.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Poetry reading: A PLACE OF CONTRAST

[Performed at #offstageamsterdam at Vondelbunker, 15.09.2018]

This is the place
Where hearts reunite
And others are torn apart.
Here searching
While others wave adieu
For a face in the mass
Finally when eyes meet
Through the thick window glass.
But others will turn the corner
Their smile is so bright
Clutching to one last sight.
A place of contrast
Welcoming you with flowers
I will miss you, I murmur --
Feelings digress
Whether you are coming in
While others grow steadfast.
In those tears of joy
Our life is never on standby
Or heart-rending turmoil,
Or it is me that is flying
Because honesty
Hugs feel the same
They both exclaim.
It is always a piece of paradise
Hellos and Goodbyes
It will always sting
When someone you love is leaving.
And like the glow of fireflies,
To see you arriving.



Poetry reading: DRUNK

[Performed at #offstageamsterdam at Vondelbunker, 15.09.2018]

I got drunk on life
This time, like every time
The old trick works on me
I am just happy enough
Until I have had one too many

Then everything is buzzing
Fuzzy thoughts and accurate feelings

I carry on 
As if my gut still permits it
Before promising, I learned my lesson
From overindulging.

This time, I will be more vigilant
Life tastes delicious;
But I should sip gently
Unless it is yet another hangover
From decisions I could regret long after

Then everything is buzzing
Accurate thoughts and fuzzy feelings

Drink moderately, or else I will be
Easily intoxicated
On this plethora of life experiences
This time, I shall only get a little tipsy.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Poetry reading: MAKE WORDS, NOT LOVE

[Performed at #offstageamsterdam at Vondelbunker, 15.09.2018]

I take your mind to bed
Any opinion
You ever had,
Stark naked.

I start fondling
Your musings;
I envision
Your thoughts on my skin.

Your ideas enter me;
I feel myself
From all the talking.

All my dreams flow
You, too, are close --
Baby, let me swallow
Any last word.