High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Mattijs Deraedt: Brussels
Friday Verses

Mattijs Deraedt: Brussels

Mattijs Deraedt

This week's Friday Verses are written by Mattijs Deraedt. We translated Brussel. The poem was first published in Dutch in Het Liegend Konijn, a magazine for contemporary Dutch-language poetry.

Mattijs Deraedt (b. 1993, Kortrijk) is poetry editor of the literary magazine Kluger Hans and lives in Brussels. He studied Audiovisual Arts at the RITCS with Writing as his degree specialisation. Poems and short stories by him appeared in such magazines as Het Liegend Konijn, Deus ex Machina and Gierik & NVT. In 2017 he came third in the final of Write Now! with a cycle of poems. At the end of 2018 he took part in Vers van het Mes, an idiosyncratic poetry programme for unpublished poets, organised by deBuren and Perdu.


Do you remember how someone stabbed you for an mp3-player?
How the old waitress warned you
as if the carrier himself were the danger.

At that moment the space to pass through became a place of doom
although it was statistically impossible
for it to happen there again.

Now dancers are breaking their limbs on the steps
of the bourse and it is no longer clear
who’s a performer and who an audience member.

But on some nights I can see the faces
of the guys who call themselves fighters
in the reflection of the Coca-Cola billboard
on the edge of Anspachlaan.

The starry sky cuts the roof off the houses
with one supple sweep and there appears,
dressed in a blue raincoat, the man with the owl eyes.

Slowly he examines the inhabitants.
sometimes he lights them with a torch,
like figures in a peep box.

(Dutch version below the photo)


Weet je nog hoe iemand je neerstak voor een mp3-speler?
Hoe de oude serveuse je ervoor waarschuwde
alsof de drager zelf het gevaar was.

Op dat moment werd de doorreisplaats een onheilsoord
hoewel het statistisch gezien onmogelijk was
dat het daar opnieuw gebeurde.

Nu breken dansers hun ledematen op de trappen
van het beursgebouw en is het niet langer duidelijk
wie performer is en wie publiek.

Maar op sommige nachten kan ik de gezichten
van de jongens zien die zich strijders noemen
in de reflectie van het Coca-Colabillboard
aan de rand van de Anspachlaan.

Dan snijdt de sterrenhemel met één soepele zwaai
de daken van de huizen en verschijnt,
gekleed in een blauwe regenjas, de man met de uilenogen.

Langzaam onderzoekt hij de bewoners.
Soms licht hij ze bij met een zaklamp,
als figuurtjes in een kijkdoos.

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