A gentleman plucks at my sleeve as we’re leaving the excellent NeighbourFood market by the Westergasfabriek. ‘Excuse me, sir, I’m a poet.’
My companions move on quickly, but he has me trapped. He’s polite, well-dressed and well-spoken. Seems ok.
‘I’ve written a poem about that statue over there, and I’d like to recite it to you.’
I know the statue, pictured above. The poet continues, reciting his short poem to an audience of one. He’s not a beggar, he’s a real poet, one of forty taking part in Juni Gedicht (June Poetry), an event sponsored by the local council.
He finishes his poem, introduces himself (Frans Terken) and gives me a postcard, bearing a photo of the sculpture and the text of his poem. I’ve done my best to translate it below.*
I thank him, shake his hand, catch up to my friends, and we continue towards home, through the Vondelpark, where a number of new sculptures have recently appeared. I thought at first they were a little amateurish, until I read the explanatory notes.
They’re part of Artzuid Junior, in which school students were invited to submit designs for sculptures, which were then constructed in large scale and set in the park for a temporary exhibition.
What a great initiative! It creates, interest, raises a smile and must be wonderful encouragement to the young artists and their friends.
Back to sculptor Peter Erftemeijer’s work. Here are the other two figures in the street, with Frans Terken’s poem below them.
*In Passing, by Frans Terken
Let me say hello to you
when I greet you, you surely won’t turn your back
that would be impolite, even uncomfortable
then I would no longer know what you were doing
where you’re going as you walk past me
with pleasure I’ll clear the way
so that you can find a passage further
for you I’ll step aside and wait
I wait and look forward to your return
as walkers on the road bring eyes
and ears, through street and park
you speak the voices of this neighbourhood
passing no judgement, you carry them in your coat of bronze
don’t keep your silence, tell me what you see and hear