The exhibition ‘Slavery. And the Groningen people?’ in Museum aan de A concluded on Sunday with the poetry and music project ‘Between the cattle and the heavens’. The shining centerpiece was the 92-year-old poet Guillaume Pool.
You can allow exhibitions to fizzle out, but you can also try to stoke the fire. For the latter, organiser, composer and poet Hansko Visser is a good one.
Fisher has ideas. Like about how the world can be made better with music and lyrics. He travels a lot. To return again and again to the Northern Netherlands as a self-proclaimed ‘failed gypsy’. And he knows people. Like double bass player Aaron Lumley, drummer Collins Kwashi Agbezudor and poet Guillaume Pool.
The importance of individual choices
On Sunday, through the intercession of another acquaintance, Aimée Terburgh, he brought the three of them together in Museum aan de A in Groningen. There they were allowed on his instructions Between the cattle and the sky perform, a music and poetry project about the importance of individual choices and how words and sounds from different parts of the world can complement each other.
In a small room, about fifty people saw how Visser quickly put down his own instrument to create plenty of space for the occasional trio. Percussion from Ghana, strings from Canada, text from Surinam, stirred according to a Frisian recipe – Visser comes from Workum. Not a one-time event, because there will be an album and a booklet of it later.
Unpredictably meandering recitation
Guillaume Pool (Suriname, 1930) attracted the most attention. With good reason: Agbezudor and Lumley improvised on his unpredictably meandering performance, which may not be easy for everyone to follow. For another reason, because the performance title comes from his poem Closer to the sun : ‘Between the cattle and the sky/ hides a cruel God/ who with his scorching rays/ sucks everything towards himself’.
As if that weren’t enough, the captivating Pool, who lives in Haren, is one of the Groningen people of color who was put forward as a role model in the exhibition last year Slavery. And the Groningen people? He is currently regarded with retroactive effect as one of the forerunners, if not the doyen of become ghosts in the Northern Netherlands – a title he has to get used to.
Admiration for the open mind
Although Pool visibly enjoys attention, he prefers to leave the associated crown and throne to others. To Tsead Bruinja and Bart FM Droog, for example. In the 1990s, when he first came out with his oral poetry, they offered him a place on a stage without judgment or objection. Pool only started writing poems at the age of 60, a quarter of a century after his arrival in Groningen.
Afterwards, Hansko Visser clarified how the idea came about Between the cattle and the sky originated: due to the refugee crisis and the forced arrival of possibly new Dutch people. After a visit to the reception center in Ter Apel, among other things, it became clear once again that what Guillaume Pool wrote and writes about the multicultural society is still topical and urgent. “It has only increased my admiration for his energy and open mind.”