Marlene van Niekerk – vertaling in Engels

Marlene van Niekerk – vertaal deur/translated by the author & Tony & Gisela Ullyatt

 

Marlene van Niekerk

Marlene van Niekerk

Marlene van Niekerk is the author of two volumes of poetry, Sprokkelster (1972) and Groenstaar (1983), two collections of short stories, Die vrou wat haar verkyker vergeet het (1992) and Die sneeuslaper (2010). She has also published two novels, Triomf (1994) en Agaat (2004). She is currently responsible for the supervision of M.A. students in creative writing. She wonders whether the only subversive activity in a brutalised society is perhaps the writing of small poems. Van Niekerk has won several prizes: in 1978, the Eugène Marais Prize and the Ingrid Jonker prize for Sprokkelster as well as the Chancellor’s Prize from the University of Stellenbosch; in 1995, the M-Net, the CNA, and the Noma prizes for Triomf; in 2005, the UJ Prize for Creative Writing for Agaat, which also won the Hertzog Prize in 2007. In 2010 she received an honorary doctorate for her literary work from the University of Tilburg.

 

 

* poets of our fatherland unite     

      

this my dearest countrymen is a jingle like scarlatti’s for princess benjamin

and sweetness pikini both of them police chicks at the station in macassar

enter around ten o’clock  li’l sweetness pikini who does not fit in ‘er bikini

as princess benjamin stirs sweetener into her mug of herbal tea

 

this is now behind the counter for serious complaints

when the station mice have fallen quiet

and the walrus had dozed off

the one who is supposed to guard

the grass the crystals and the ecstacy

the coke the mushrooms and the crack

confiscated from the white pipes

and the hash heads and the mandrax mules

and the bling buddies with the rayban shades

who’s stamping ground this is

and who also just like them two

earn a pittance for their toils

 

this is a scarlatti jive for the princess with her little baton

and the sweetie pie second in command

the hatcher of the hectic schemes, check ‘er

as she swishes from the canteen with her coffee

 

prods pikini the roaring royalty on her rank insignia

left right left as they clink their teaspoons

in the terrible twin cups of macassar

while the watchman at the service bell

is snoring in his cubicle

 

hi there blue blood of the station, winks nikita pikitini

my coolest miniskirted queenie

who is the  boss girl of this precinct

i know something ‘bout this ninconpoop policing dive

that two worthy women like us cannot survive

without coming out in shingles

a haystack grass is stacked in sacks and going

flat in our storeroom, what do you say lets nab it

this so called evidence of the black hole in the universe

and fuck the waiting for a pipsqueek paycheck

what about you sergeant, my bucks are  sucked

and I dig a sony and an ipod and a perm

i want a lexus like the one that madam drives

who heads the prisons and who won’t be seen alive

in her rickshaw from toyota

and these tons of woolworths quality weed

lie here rotting day and night under our noses

no one will split if we drop it in the township

and make our million dollar dreams come true

 

this is a little jumpstart like scarlatti’s for the officers of justice

who do not know how they must chastise their highnesses

the swishy sweeties in macassar town

now take it from me one can only pick a littte music

just a wee bit with domenico scarlatti who clicks

my tongue from its spitting dicky and switches me

like dominoes on trickle

 

and christ this princess is like snappy on the uptake and she says

fuck pikini now you make my nipples tight

and ping she thwacks her teaspoon in her cup

and cracks the service bell from its bracket

and tweaks the bunch of keys from the big belt of the walrus

and they make a go for it like thelma and louise

like bonnie and clyde but with that chique sashay

of the swinging macassar chickies  and they haul the sacks of grass

from the evidence hole  and  pile it in the hatchback van

 

this wont  be five trips only more likely forty says miss benjamin

to the dilly dolly with the brainwaves in the macassar copshop

we need a bloody lorry and a few lawless fellas from the flats for operation transport

 

this is a scarlatti jig for the inhouse scandal of macassar

and the understandable motives of the suspects

‘cause guilty they can’t be if one looks at the example of the selebis

and the missus of cwele the commissioner

who bleeps her mules on her mobile phone from capetown  to colombia

while the whole bang shoot that is south africa goes down the bloody tubes again

 

this is a ditty like scarlatti’s a little blue at the twinkle hour

with the night jars screeching in the copse and the smell of burning rivers

it is time to modulate into a minor but my grammar is exhausted   

And pogorelich wakes the neighbours what’s the chance                  

my rapping brother from the township may i I invite you to promote

this number under the slogan: poets of our fatherland unite

and keep the nation from the crooked ways of the law enforcers.

 

 

* A rap song on  the basis of the newspaper report about the two police women with the wonderful name Princess Benjamin and Sweetness Pikini who stole bags of confiscated grass

from their own police station  in Macassar, (Die Burger 13 Januarie p 9)

 

(Uncollected)

(Tr. by the author)

 

 

 

Poem for President Motlanthe

Photo DB February 27 at the beginning of a SADC meeting concerning the Zimbabwe crisis

 

How can you bring your neighbouring country’s mad dictator to the table?

How do you get his slot-mouth to the peace trough?

O president, from the outset you remain virtuous,

you remain in the pink, you scrunch up your snout forgivingly

you clench your buttocks and

brace your breastplate grimly in regent mode

you lead him step by step,

you prick up your ears for the cameras,

your beard

a goatee, your collar

pristine,

how does one please

an expert exterminator of the Matabele, president?

You mumble ubuntu, uhuru, ujamaa, you

embrace a fuck-the-world kind of freedom that you

cribbed from PWB and Smith

(one should know what to stress these days,

one should remember the right things)

How do you bring him inside

this stalactite of power

this rabid grasshopper?

It is evident, mister president,

you handle him softly, you handle him like a chum, the colours of your tie clash

less harshly than his, your breast-pocket handkerchief

puffed up a tad less, on account of his ghostbrittle self,

you let him understand, the two of you are men,

who feel good in your tailor-made suits,

you are cut from the same cloth, your spectacle frames

a little less expensive, the label more local than his

you mark your pace invisibly up the steps of your royal palace,

until you are in step with his tread

like an ageing pig feeding on the bread of grace

 

Isn’t he and won’t he always be your brother?

(as Stroessner was then the schmak’s brother

not to mention church hat and spouse)

a king just like you?

Even though his people cower totally fucked

beneath the soldier’s heel on your borders      

where Kruger lions simper miserably,

even though his subjects gorge on grass,

even though they roll their good-for-nothing money like dung beetles

to bakeries baking clouds of chalk,

even though they suck the bitter piss

of grasshoppers through straws,

even though they have a rat up their arse as their last rations,

even though hospitals are flooded with cholera,

even though they choke on your bone-white flour,

even though your people scream makwerekere at your tightly-guarded walls,

even though their fingers reach for your throat,

how can you deal with a man who does this to his nation

and to your nation for that matter?

to your precious French ideal of Renaissance?

(And I know what I am talking about, my white Vlakplaas guards

had a braai next to their enemies’ corpses

in the name of the lord jesus christ, I was a fool

to think that you could do better in this godforsaken territory

of white and black barbarians)

Now at midnight I rage as if you were ever going to hear me,

and I ask, how in the name of the father do you do it?

 

You treat him like a gentleman, mister president

you eat a peppermint beforehand just in case

he does not trust

the quiet diplomacy on your breath

you want to show him, mister president,

your love of your neighbours

is unknown in these regions.

 

O lord and the tamtam, don’t forget the tamtam, president,

The tamtam and the tattoo and stywepap for the chauffeurs,

the carpet and the flag and the foxterrier gang of guards

with surveillance worms in the ear, with armpit-holsters full of lead

with dark glasses of fraternity.

(between your guards and his your safety

a likewise incline of the head, and deodorant and rearview mirrors

of distrust and jujitsu and small electric truncheons

sizzling against the thighs.)

 

How do you do it, mister president?

 

In that air filled with Southern African amenability

overflowing neighbourly ardour

and sentiments about human rights,

in that halo of clicking shutters

before the portals, you tilt your head, making yourself famous,

with a glint of bottom teeth

look, my arm is rigid from ceremony,

but I flex my fingers

behind me, warm, affable,

toward your monkey-paw of resentment,

come on then, tata, toward peace, toward truce,

you are my child, over your sins, Motlanthe, I

and all of us here, scatter

bucket loads of Kalahari sand.

I am not ashamed,

I guard you,

I take your hand.

 

(Uncolledted)

(Tr. by Tony & Gisela Ullyatt)

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