Monica Boschman: Vindersloon en Zolderdagen – poetry collection and novel

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We are proud: the chairman of our foundation – Monica Boschman – has recently published a collection of poetry and novel. We would like to pay attention to it.

Finder's fee Monica Boschman

Water carrier

That half of a human being is made up of moisture
cells are sachets of water. Do you remember that?
Is it crazy when I say I’m the fisherman
and the fishbowl. A water carrier

with soft walls, hands that eat algae
of glass. With questions. Where are you?
What is it like there and especially, do you hear me?
Barbs, bones in a throat.

Fish don’t sink. They swim
weightless like water spirits.
That’s how you live in every cell of mine. There
I’m trying to catch you, again

turns out my net is too light and out of time.
Sometimes you jump up, a fish out of the chalice.
I hear your voice, you’re already swimming back
in our ocean. I’ll let you go.

Monica Boschman

A review by Damiaan, co-coordinator of the Walk of Walk of Wisdom.

Finder’s fee

The above poem is in the collection “Vindersloon” (2023). Finder’s fee is the fee you get when you return a found item to its rightful owner, usually 10% of its value. However, the word took on a different meaning for me while reading the collection.

I usually don’t read a book of poetry in one piece, but I leave it next to my bed for a while or take it with me on the road. On occasion, I open the bundle on a random page. One poem touches me, the other doesn’t, that’s how it goes with poetry. I’ve experienced that even with the greatest poets. For me, a book of poetry is good if it contains a few words or images that do something to me. A whole poem that touches me is the grand prize. Such a word, image or poem is “finder’s fee” for me. Fruit of my search for meaning. Ten percent of the bundle’s content is more than enough…

I have this kind of finder’s fee in “Finder’s Fee“” amply found. But there’s something else going on with this bundle. Seldom have I picked up a book of poetry that reads so easily, in an almost natural, talking rhythm, written in plain language, while the poems themselves are so enigmatic that I want to return to the beginning at the end of the poem, because I have not understood what I have read. I whizz through the poems even though my mind doesn’t understand what it says, but it doesn’t protest and I read on. Suddenly, a sentence sticks, or a feeling, as with “Zeepost”:

A boat brought me here/ with a suitcase full. The packing list / (I chose sun, sea, beach) / determined what I had with me. […]”

The humor and independence of that packing list (I chose sun, sea, beach): wonderful. It’s language that arrives in a different compartment of my brain than my everyday, analyzing mind. Language that makes new connections. Language that awakens a sense of life in me that I take with me to the night when I sleep. I’ve already got the loot for this bundle.

But the collection gave me more, including a whole poem that I have already recited once at one of our departure ceremonies for pilgrims. It is the poem above Water Bearer. It’s my favorite finder’s fee of this bundle. I’ll just post it again, because the poem deserves to be read – at least – twice:

Water carrier

That half of a human being is made up of moisture
cells are sachets of water. Do you remember that?
Is it crazy when I say I’m the fisherman
and the fishbowl. A water carrier

with soft walls, hands that eat algae
of glass. With questions. Where are you?
What is it like there and especially, do you hear me?
Barbs, bones in a throat.

Fish don’t sink. They swim
weightless like water spirits.
That’s how you live in every cell of mine. There
I’m trying to catch you, again

turns out my net is too light and out of time.
Sometimes you jump up, a fish out of the chalice.
I hear your voice, you’re already swimming back
in our ocean. I’ll let you go.

Attic days

“People take themselves so seriously that they forget that they are part of a process called life.”

In addition to a collection of poetry, Monica also published the novel Zolderdagen (2023). Now, I’m not much of a novel reader myself, but I just approach her book as I do with a book of poetry: I carry it with me for a while and when it suits me I open it haphazardly. Often I also have a finder’s fee with this book.

Attic days Monica Boschman

“She takes the black queen and the white queen. With her eyes closed and her hands together, she has the two women circle each other. A waltz. She separates her hands, with a queen in each hand. She opens her right hand and looks, I watch. White. She cleans everything up, puts the queens and the horses loose on the box.”

Zolderdagen was born in East Iceland, where Monica stayed as a writer in residence at the invitation of the Gunnar Gunnerson Foundation. The title refers to the attic of the grandmother of the female protagonist. An attic where the main character likes to look out through the skylights to see what’s happening in the sky, without any soil or soil in between.

Zolderdagen is written in the same natural language as Vindersloon: fluent and clear word-for-word. But as a novel, it is also enigmatic and not entirely understandable. In the meantime, I feel a different approach to life than I experience on a daily basis. An approach where something of the wonder that is life has value. The life we don’t really understand, even though we pretend to do so almost every day. But where something beautiful can come out of it with some attention and space, flows.

In the afterword, Monica reveals something of how this works for her when she explains that her novel only took on extra meaning after it was written: “Once again, language was ahead of understanding.” First the words, then the meaning. It is what she also conveys in her work as a writing teacher: just write, let the words come. What it means will come later. “The story has its own laws. It reveals itself, through cracks of time.” As her protagonist experiences in the attic room:

I always snuck into the attic of the big house, the other children played in the deep garden or on the piano in the room. The attic was full of stories. I looked at things, the rest took care of itself.”

More about Finder’s Fees and Attic Days

Finder's fee Monica Boschma
Monica Boschman (inspiration card)

More about Monica Boschman’s poetry collection Vindersloon (2023) or her novel Zolderdagen (2023) on her website: link.

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