Ancona, Ann Bilde, autobiography, By the Sea, Candelabrum, Christian Meonia George, Dunderhead, Dust of Stars, Esbjerg, Fanö, forlaget-freja.dk, front cover illustrations, Hope, Horror Vacui, Karen M. Eskesen, Kvinden med den smukke have, On the Quiet, perversion of justice, poppies, Red Moon, stalking, The Sweetest Duet, The Woman with the Beautiful Garden, Trust, Under A Tree, Vinbaren, With You
The sonnet I’m releasing the sung version of today is one of three that have today been published as part of my wife, Ann Bilde’s documentary-cum-fairy tale, Kvinden med den Smukke Have (The Woman with the Beautiful Garden). The illustration on the cover is a photo of a water colour that a frequent visitor from Florida, Karen M. Eskesen, an American with Danish roots, painted of a poppy in our garden.
Kvinden… highlights the problem of stalking. Almost four years ago now we were chased out of our home and off the island of Fanö by a new neighbour who harassed us for 1½ years in an escalating series of abuses that culminated in round-the-clock surveillance and filming.
Wikipedia has this on the issue of stalking.
Kvinden… is written in the style and language of the classical fairy tale. It is a gruesome story, just as fairy tales so often are, but, just as fairy tales also so often are, it is a story told with a warm and waggish wit. The autobiographical element is disguised by way of archetypes instead of the actual people. Thus Ann herself is “the woman with the beautiful garden”, I’m “the poet”, and the stalker is “the witch with fire in her hair”.
We had lived in our 150-year-old house for over 15 years, in which time we had, according to “the elegant madame“, transformed it from the ugliest house in town into the most beautiful one.
The police were no help at all.
We don’t have any anti-stalking laws in Denmark, but the initial recommendations for some anti-stalking laws have recently been published. Ann has been lined up for several appearances in the media.
Five of my other poems/songs are also included in the book. And at the launch today at Vinbaren (The Wine Bar) in Esbjerg, run by David Apel, whom we know from Fanö, four of these were performed by composer and musician, Christian Meonia George: “Trust” (also known as “My Lady Lenor”), “The Sweetest Duet” (with me singing), “On the Quiet”, and “With You”.
“Hope” was one of two pieces I recited, the other piece being “By the Sea”. I’ve linked to the other two sonnets, “Dunderhead” and “Horror Vacui”, before. They can be seen and heard here.
“Hope” was published here.
Here’s a sung version:
The sonnet is a barely recognizable rewrite of two other sonnets, “Under A Tree” and “Dust of Stars” (published in my collection, Red Moon) which Ann and I wrote in Ancona on 14th and 15th May 1986, the first of several poems we wrote together. The capital ‘A’ in “Under A Tree” refers to the fact that the symbol for anarchy was painted on the tree we were sitting under when we wrote it.
The first quatrain is a rewrite of the first quatrain of “Dust of Stars”:
The day is swallowed by the past,
Will the future be never the same?
The burning match suggests a flame
The slipping sun forgets too fast;
While the third quatrain is a rewrite of the third quatrain of “Under A Tree”:
As a whisper at the doors of spring
Holds a river in peaceful spate
So we ever reposed do wait
The song that cuckoo and lark will sing;
While still a policeman in Odense, Denmark, Bendt Bendtsen turned to politics. He was elected to Parliament in 1994 for the Conservative Party. After an extended period of tumult in the party Bendtsen assumed the leadership in 1999.
In 2000 his lobbying was instrumental in saving Marstal Navigation School, which was in his constituency. Situated as it was on the fairly remote island of Aerö, the school had long been having difficulty attracting students. Even though no one in the maritime industry was interested in saving the Navigation School, the argument was that it was the life-nerve of the island.
In 2001 Bendtsen became Minister of Trade and Commerce, as well as Vice-PM alongside PM, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Blinkered by his own interests, and apparently oblivious to those of the country he had been elected to serve, he went about unscrupulously achieving his aims in the most undemocratic way imaginable.
Bendtsen plotted the downfall of another maritime education centre, MUV in Esbjerg and on the island of Fanö, in conjunction with an expansion of Marstal. Using the lessons he had learned from how Marstal Navigation School was saved, he acted in secret with a couple of others. Ignoring the fact that Fanö was also an island with maritime education as its life-nerve, Bendtsen closed down MUV on 4th June 2004, the last day of Parliament before the long, long summer break. He then turned off his mobile phone, giving Esbjerg and Fanö no chance to speak their case.
In fact, MUV was not only the second largest maritime institution in the country, but it was also by far the best. Furthermore, it was the institution that best lived up to the industry’s future needs, not least because it was part of a thriving centre of industry and research. Denmark’s maritime industry was in urgent need of more navigators, skippers, marine engineers, etc., and Esbjerg/Fanö had the culture, tradition and expertise that could provide them.
The official reason for the closure was to save 5-6 million kroner of the state’s annual budget. Peanuts when one considers that Denmark’s maritime industry earned 160,000 million kroner in 2006 and 200,000 million kroner in 2007. Bendtsen omitted to mention that it would cost 100 million kroner to close the schools and expand Marstal.
The publication of an exposé, MUV-affaeren (The MUV Affair), by a freelance journalist, Ann Bilde, in January 2006 prompted MP Kim Mortensen to confront Bendt Bendtsen, and later PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Parliament. Both of them lied when they claimed that the closing of the schools had been part of the original overall strategy proposed by the Danish Maritime Authority. Quite the opposite was true.
Despite overwhelming evidence of Bendtsen’s corruption and deceit he was never brought to account. Instead it was a case of shooting the messenger. Ann Bilde wasn’t popular with the powers-that-were. The vice-director of the United Shipping Companies, the very organisation that lacked Danish mariners, complained in the press that the campaign to reopen MUV was harmful for recruitment. Even on Fanö the campaign met huge resistance. Not least from the Conservative Mayor, who saw it as an indictment of his own failure to react at the time. A vice-director of the Maritime Authority approached Ann Bilde’s biggest customer, the director of a fishing organization, and told him to sack her. At first the director refused. But he was then threatened with the suspension of the entire 1½ million kroner PR allowance, so he had no choice but to comply.
And Anders Fogh Rasmussen and “bent” Bendt Bendtsen are still collecting fat fees in politics to this day. Shame on you, Denmark!
This sonnet, “Deceit“, is previously unpublished:
With Esbjerg/Fanö reeling in defeat,
you zoomed right in. They said: “This case is closed.”
You prised it open, carefully exposed
the vice-PM’s corruption and deceit.
But white with rage the vice-PM denied
the evidence; he even had you sacked.
Both Press and Parliament refused to act.
At Question Time the PM simply lied.
There’s something rotten somewhere. Justice sleeps
in poverty. Yet she survives. They bring
her to her knees; she does the only thing
she can: she hopes against all hope and keeps
the negatives that beg to be displayed
on every inch of every street arcade.
Here’s a recording: