In Amsterdam the lighting man asked, “What are your wishes?” In my poems I have a lot of sun surfing, cloud, storm, sunset, darkness, and starlight.  The man said, “I will always spot you.” The backstage dressing room with the mirrors framed by lightbulbs. The dark curtains we moved through to come on stage and then vanished through at the end. Working together with Bobby Mitchell involved combining both of our passions in one event. In our Dust Blown Side of the Journey both the poems and music mentioned in the poems became our concert. There was a mirroring effect or as one person said, “A down the rabbit hole” experience. It was a wonderland of days. Being in the spotlight means being blinded by the light and the audience is invisible but attentively there. Is this perhaps also the relationship between a writer and their readers? People left with copies of my book peering out of their coat pockets.


Poet, Pianist and the Prince’s Day



The doorbell rang and a man from the city water laboratory said he was there to collect a sample from my tap.  He had been delayed because the street was full of horses returning from their practise sessions for Prinsjesdag. Yesterday Emlyn Stam, artistic director of the New European Ensemble , pianist Bobby Mitchell, and I rehearsed for the Dust Blown Side of the Journey. Tomorrow  on Prince’s Day the King will present his speech from the throne, and in the evening a poet and pianist will be on stage.


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Cycling with memorised poems scrolling through my thoughts, I stopped on a bridge to take these photos.


The intersection of already written poems along with those starting to form newly in my mind is always an exhilarating place to be.

Peace by Chocolate

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I’m preparing for the New European Ensemble performances by reciting my memorised poems and using youtube videos to play the program music.  Plus a cup of tea and some Peace by Chocolate.  This beautiful and delicious chocolate is made by a Syrian refugee family in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.  The Hadhad family had owned a successful chocolate factory in Damascus but were forced to flee due to civil war.  In Antigonish “The Hadhads were financially independent by the time their one-year anniversary in Canada rolled around in January, and they began employing 10 people at their shed shop.”  Tareq Hadhad says, “Peace By Chocolate may not tell the general story, but it tells the others what is possible. It tells other communities across the country what is possible when they come all together to support people who are fleeing war.”  In the way that not all artists can create great art, not all refugees can be great success stories, but by reaching out to help people we can make success more possible in both large and small ways.  On the 19th and 20th of September I’ll recite poems about migrants making their way forward in difficult circumstances, plus poems about the beauty of nature, and poems that interconnect with the music that Bobby Mitchell will play.

The two sides

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“I’ve been listening to music since my teens, but lately I’ve come to feel that I understand music a little better now than I used to—that maybe I can hear the fine differences in musical detail—and that writing fiction has gradually and naturally given me a better ear. Conversely, you can’t write well if you don’t have an ear for music.  The two sides complement each other: listening to music improves your style; by improving your style, you improve your ability to listen to music.”

—Haruki Murakami

from Absolutely on Music:  Conversations with Seiji Ozawa