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Maria van Daalen Olanda olandese Maria van Daalen (pseudonimo di Maria Mach Elina de Rooij) è nata nei Paesi Bassi nel 1950, ha pubblicato sei libri di poesia tra cui: "Elektron, muon, tau" (2000), un libro di sonetti in endecasillabi, in edizione bilingue, olandese ed inglese, e "Yo! de liefde" (Yo! l’amore), anch’esso prevalentemente composto di sonetti.
La poesia di M. van Daalen è stata tradotta in inglese, italiano, finnico. Ha scritto anche recensioni di libri, e molti racconti.
Nel 1992 Maria van Daalen è stata invitata al quarto Faenza Folk Festival. Sue traduzioni in italiano ad opera del poeta Stefano Del Bianco (che risiede a Milano) sono state pubblicate in “Luoghi paralleli” (Moby Dick, Faenza 1993), “Tratti” (Coop. Tratti, Faenza 1994) e “Testo a fronte” (Guerini e Associati, Milano 1992). Traduzioni di Giorgio Faggin sono state pubblicate in “Si scrive”, Rivista semestrale di letteratura (Cremona 1994).
Nell’autunno del 1995 ha partecipato all’International Writing Program dell’Università dell’Iowa. Ha viaggiato molto negli Stati Uniti per leggere le sue poesie, ed è stata invitata dall’UMBRA-poets (Nuyorikan Café, NY) e da Cuirt International Literature Festival a Galway (Irlanda). In marzo-aprile del 2003 è stata scrittore in residence all’ Union des écrivains québécois a Montréal, Canada, per fare una ricerca per un grande saggio sul voodoo come una concezione di realtà e una lettura di poesia al Blue Metropolis festival (Montréal). Ha continusto negli anni il suo interesse per il voodoo e nel 2008 ha curato per il Museo Tropicale di Amsterdam, una grande mostra di 300 oggetti della cultura vodou, dal titolo "Voodoo, arte e misticismo".
Maria van Daalen vive nei Paesi Bassi ed è lettrice ospite all’Università di Groningen dove ha insegnato Scrittura Creativa. Van Daalen insegna poesia presso la Scuola di Scrittori, Amsterdam.

Ha partecipato agli Incontri internazionali di poesia di Sarajevo nel 2003.

De wet van behoud van energie (The Law of Conservation of Energy), Querido, Amsterdam, 2007
De zwarte engel (The Black Angel; prose), kleine Uil, Groningen, 2005
Yo! de liefde (Wow! It’s Love), Querido, Amsterdam, 2003
Elektron, muon, tau (Electron, Muon, Tau), Querido, Amsterdam, 2000
Het geschenk/De maker (The Gift/The Maker), Querido, Amsterdam, 1996
Het Hotel (The Hotel), Querido, Amsterdam, 1994
Onder het hart (Underneath the Heart), Querido, Amsterdam, 1992
Raveslag (The Beat of the Raven’s Wing), Querido, Amsterdam, 1989

Translations of Van Daalen’s poems have appeared in publications including:

Contemporary Dutch Poets. A Poetry Review Supplement, vol. 97:3 (English, anthology), translated by Renée Delhez, Autumn 2007
Poeti olandezi contemporani = Hedendaagse Nederlandse dichters (Romanian, anthology), translated by Jeannette Carp, Musatinii, 2006
Onni on vaarallista (Finnish), translated by Heimo Pihlajamaa, Nihil Interit, 2002
Die Aussenseite des Elementes no. 22 (German, review/anthology), translated by Ilja Braun et al., 2001
The low countries 4 (English), translated by Tanis Guest, Ons Erfdeel, Rekkem, 1996
100 words vol.3, no.1 and no.3, (English, review), translated by Wanda Boeke and the author, 1995–96
Tratti vol.11, no.39 (Italian, review), translated by Elio Pecora, 1995
Si scrive: revista semestrale di letteratura no. 1 (Italian, review), translated by Stefano dal Bianco, 1994
Vijenac vol.29, no.20 and no.24 (Serbo-Croatian, review), translated by Reina Dokter and Nada Pinteric, 1994
Poetry on the road (English), translated by Greta Kilburn, Poetry International, Rotterdam, 1993
Testo a fronte: revista semestrale di teoria e pratica della traduzione letteraria no.8 (Italian, review), translated by Stefano dal Bianco, 1993

Van Daalen’s poems have also been translated into French, Bosnian, Bahasa Indonesia, Farsi and Frisian.
She also used that drain

Maria van Daalen maintains her own voice in intoxicating poetry

January 1, 2009
Just as in a diary or weblog, you can easily lose yourself for an hour or so in the verses of Maria van Daalen, sunk in all her various moods.

I got hold of Maria van Daalen’s new anthology, opened it up, and landed in the middle of an argument. As far as I could make out, it was an argument between the poet and her lover. And it didn’t end nicely. Everything pointed to anger, a fight, destruction and physical abuse. The next day, the boyfriend has vanished for good and we see the poet picking up all the pieces – in the written form, too, as the report of this crisis is a series of loose fragments, separated by blank lines, without capital letters and full stops, five pages long.

Screaming and violence are dealt with, as are grief about the premature loss of the mother, a memory of how the father was tortured in the war, and a summary of all the men the poet has met in her life, a declaration about love and a statement about poetry. And an attempt to take at least something positive from the physical abuse. It is not the abuser who ultimately wins, but rather the victim – that’s how Van Daalen wants to see it. She “receives the force of fury / and stores it within her body, carries it with her” to obtain benefit later. The anger of the abuser is converted to energy for the victim – that is ‘the Law of the Conservation of Energy’ mentioned in the title.

I do not wish to claim that, with this, everything fell into place – that was probably not the intention anyway. I browsed through the collection and saw elements from the title poem recurring in other poems. Apparently it was an advance summary. Or, if you want to see it another way, everything in this collection evidently belongs more or less together. I read about Almere, the poet’s new home town. And about the Protestant grammar school that she attended in the sixties. About a visit to Gerrit Kouwenaar. A recollection of C.O. Jellema. About medieval manuscripts and a house-removals truck in New York. About sex and sexual fantasies. Anecdotal poetry, easy to follow, in neatly rhyming sonnets.

A little further on there was also the voodoo that was dealt with in several much looser poems. Van Daalen, raised in a Protestant family, is on the point of joining the Roman Catholic Church, but has been ‘into’ voodoo for the last little while. Last autumn, she underwent the official ordination to Mambo Asogwe. She is now a voodoo priestess, with Fouyé Racine Bon Mambo as her working name, which means “the mambo who seeks the essence in everything”. But even with all their exaltation, her voodoo verses do not make much of an essence-oriented impression. I quote from the verse entitled ‘Obatala’, from the ‘Orisha’ series: “Obatala’s crown is upon my head / Obatala’s crown is the string of beads with white beads / a single bead may be coral red / another may be shiny, transparent / Obatala is the light that suffuses the photo” and so on.

Strange of course, these dreamy and religious verses, but interesting all the same. It is completely different to the rigid, strict, entrenched word-edging poetry with which Van Daalen began her poetic career some twenty years ago. The aim of her debut collection Raveslag (1989), as she later told me, was to be a report of all kinds of personal disaster, but that turned out to be too difficult for outsiders. There is none of that in her new collection, De wet van behoud van energie, in which you can easily lose yourself for an hour or so – as if you are reading a diary or weblog. You are treated to a mixture of all kinds of experiences. It is almost too much, in fact, with all that everyday suffering, the poignant tone and the sentimental outbursts now and again, the loud words and the obscure terms. “I have forgotten all names / but language remained eternal”. And: “No one heals from immortality / or from thinking. I think eternity”. Few believers will be overjoyed to hear the mystical visions and the cosmic light ecstasies regarding the various voodoo spirits, I think.

But still, Van Daalen’s poetry does have its quality: its own voice, its liveliness, its variation. It is sometimes hard and cynical – as when she is taking a shower in her lover’s bathroom, where his girlfriend also showers. As she looks down between her legs, she sees the drain cover, which quickly acquires a bitter, symbolic significance. But her poetry is occasionally surprisingly endearing and tender, as in the poem entitled ‘Ape’, in which she is standing with an ape around her neck. She talks to the animal as to a small child, devising new words and thus together creating a “small paradise”. This succinctly indicates the range of this anthology: paradise and water drain, in close proximity.

Guus Middag (Translated by George Hall)

Originally published in Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad, January 25, 2008.