For the exhibitions of Circus Europe in different European countries poets have been asked to take part in the project. They were instructed to write a poem about one of the countries that was depicted in the collages of Machteld van Buren, making sure to include an image of Europe's future.

In January 2013 the exhibition took place at The Courthouse Gallery in Ennistymon (Ireland). Eight poets were invited: Frank Golden, Jessie Lendennie, Patrick Chapman and Jo Slade from Ireland, Martin Reints, Lieke Marsman, Arnoud van Adrichem and Peter van Lier from The Netherlands.

For the exhibition in September / October 2013 at Arteriet in Kristiansand (Norway) the Norwegian poet Terje Dragseth wrote a poem about his homeland.

For the exhibition in June / July 2015 at the University of Zagreb (Croatia) a poem about Europe of the Dutch poet Hanneke van Eijken was used as an introduction for the exhibition. Two Croatian poets, Ana Brnardić and Andreja Hlupić, made a new poem.


Hanneke van Eijken

Someone said that Europe is nothing more
Than a whimsical stain on a world map -
Without realizing
That the gods are eternal

That Europe has many forms
It is an island in the Indian Ocean
A moon of Jupiter
Twenty-eight countries which, like tight-rope walkers,
Try to keep their balance

The gods' children live there
Who have forgotten who their father is

Europe is a woman
With a wardrobe full of dresses
She doesn't like being called a stain

Of the gods' vengeance and women with dresses
It is not wise to speak lightly

From: Hanneke van Eijken, Papieren veulens (Paper Foals, 2013).
Translated from Dutch by Eleanor Sharpston and Sacha Prechal.

Hanneke van Eijken (1981) is a poet and lawyer. She has published in various literary journals (including Tirade, Het Liegend Konijn and Deus ex Machina) and her poems were presented in major literary venues and festivals in The Netherlands and Belgium. In 2012 she won the Jotie T'Hooft Poetry Prize. Her collection of poetry has been awarded with the Lucy B. and C.W. van der Hoogtprize 2015.

The Netherlands

Frank Golden

Some glorious madness was demanded,
Some necessary miasma of belief,
A patch of ground, a bond, or ponzi scheme,
A tulip - Semper Augustus, or Admiral Lieffkens perhaps,
Shares in AIB, a 500k council house in Cabinteely,
A pied-à-terre in Aigue Morte, or Vaison de la Romaine.

The problem with humanity
Is we seek out destruction
As much as we seek out salvation -
Abrogating a golden age
Revelling in hugger mugger crisis calls
Prising mercury from cordate teeth
Pulsing solutions from one sump to the next
Landing on humpbacked gods
Dreaming of casual ascension.

For the polder girls and boys
No religion ever came above money.
You need cohesion for good commerce,
Isn't that the truth?

Ants are a good model
Males balling for the Queen
Bawling for the Queen.
The drone of differentiated togetherness.
Is altruism key?

Will we intelligence our way to a collective everything?
Will we all dress in orange
Be responsible for our own little dyke
Knowing that if one dyke goes they'll all flat pack like dominoes?
Slaper and waker, waker and slaper.

We Irish loved the Bling Bling in Excelsis Deo,
The excess and successness
All discharged now
A terrible fuddle is born.
Maybe there's the elemental heart-start,
De-god, de-class, de-state,
De-state, de-class, de-god,
De-nationalise, de-homogenise, de-commercialise.
But remember!

Frank Golden (1957) has published two novels: The Two Women of Aganatz (Wolfhound Press) and The Night Game (Salmon Fiction, 2015). He published four collections of poetry: In Partial Settlement (Wiffle Press, 1987), On Route to Leameneh (Raven Arts Press, 1991), The Interior Act (Salmon Poetry, 1999) and In Daily Accord (Salmon Poetry, 2009). His last solo exhibition Living Through Air (Courthouse Gallery, 2009) was concerned with the aesthetics of brutality. September 2012 saw the premiere of his film A Room In Air, which was shot within the confines of the Auxiliary Workhouse in Ballyvaughan. He has received bursaries and awards from the Arts Council of Ireland and the Irish Film Board.


Martin Reints

The storm has reached the coast
the gulls glide above the pier without going anywhere

and the waves crash into the car park

a lion ushers a rat through the gardens
past the ponds and the water works
past the statues, past the shrubbery

past the razed villages and the razed hills
past the canal and past the rocks,
the grottos and the mazes

a baguette in one hand, a phone in the other

a dog exclaims: how high might the squirrel not climb!

The wet air whips down the garden paths to the house

papa smokes a pipe
maman cuts the bread
the shotgun is sick.

Translated from Dutch by Susan Massotty.

Martin Reints (Amsterdam, 1950) has published five collections of poetry. After Waar ze komt daar is ze (Where She Comes, There She Is, 1981) he waited eleven years to publish his second book: Lichaam en ziel (Body and Soul, 1992), which was awarded the Herman Gorter Prize). The next two, Tussen de gebeurtenissen (Between Events, 2000) and Ballade van de winstwaarschuwing (Ballad of the Profit Warning, 2005) were both shortlisted for the prestigious VSB Poetry Prize. His most recent work is Lopende zaken (Matters at Hand, 2010). His collection of essays Nacht- en dagwerk (Night and Day Work, 1988) was awarded the Jan Greshoff Prize. For futher information and translations of his work see: Nederlands Letterenfonds.

Great Britain

Jessie Lendennie

We write our small histories
And the muddle of voices
Quiets on images of our own journeys;
Walking the Embankment in London, searching
In the dim light of old bookshops on the Strand,
Mornings in Crystal Palace, and Earls Court Square in darkness,
Legacies in Southall and Acton Town.
Cornwall, Penzance; the smell of sea and something hidden.
Windy days on the Gower, Swansea, and in Aberystwyth, pale rain
The stretch of Princes Street, Edinburgh, alight with itself
The quiet of Morningside, and the winding hills of Inverness
The surprise of beautiful Belfast, and Derry with its unfailing walls.
Whose history is it, with its shouts of battle
Crying through the centuries;
United - divided...
Whose history is it that marks the mind
Forms the deep currents that carry lives,
West to East, South to North
Lives claimed and lost, lost and claimed...
And our own place here is as small or as large
as our brief and fragile history can name it.

Jessie Lendennie was born in Arkansas, USA. After years of travel, she settled in Ireland in 1981. Her previous publications include a book-length prose poem Daughter (1988); reprinted as Daughter and Other Poems in 2001; and Walking Here (2011). She compiled and edited: Salmon: A Journey in Poetry, 1981-2007 (2007); Poetry: Reading It, Writing It , Publishing It (2009) and Dogs Singing: A Tribute Anthology (2010). She is co-founder (1981) and Managing Director of Salmon Poetry. Her poems, essays and articles have been widely published and she has given numerous readings, lectures and writing courses in Ireland and abroad, including Yale University; Rutgers University; The Irish Embassy, Washington D.C; The University of Alaska, Fairbanks and Anchorage; MIT, Boston; The Loft, Minneapolis, MN; Café Teatre, Copenhagen, Denmark; the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; The Irish American Cultural Centre, Chicago and The Bowery Poetry Club, New York City. She is currently working on a memoir To Dance Beneath the Diamond Sky.


Ana Brnardić

All dawns of a trip were equally greasy.
They were pulleys and levers in the sky, black oiled and unheard.
Those dawns, polished shoes with which you're nudging bits of clouds,
sparrowy sentences wrapped in themselves, long-haired endings of dreams.

In one of those dreams, wrapped in the wax paper of the nocturnal hunger I sink into a word
Hamvas, and my body slides in a perfect capsule of the Balaton train.
Hamvas, in a dream this name is whipped into a foam, it thickly drips from a spoon,
and this Pannonian softness greasy from the outside as a bay and pliable
just doesn't let you wake up. So I was late.
Because Balaton was budding above in the sky, the cake was growing, the night caressing it,
the night which for sure is a nutmeg, and there was no more chance.
All the trains enter the platforms as raucous eels. All passengers are late
and leave behind themselves solemn and nervous furrows.

However, remains this particular furrow that I cannot mend.
Into this furrow falls everything that describes me: what keeps me afloat.
It is deep blue, deep fruit-like blue.
It becomes hoarse especially when festivals, celebrations, applauses come to an end,
after the last embrace from which a lemon-sentence is squeezed:
girl, you are so beautiful.
Especially this music makes me sorrowfull and from its bed
stinging tears start irrigating a dry meadow.

All the dawns of a trip come from a swamp and end nearby,
in the herbal oratory of a plain.

Translated from Croatian by Serena Todesco and Ana Brnardić.

Ana Bnardić was born in Zagreb in 1980. She holds an M.A. in Comparative Literature and Croatian Language and Literature (University of Zagreb) and an M.A. in music (violin; Music Academy in Zagreb). She has published five collections of poems. Pisaljka nekog mudraca (Some Sage's Pencil, 1998) won the Goran Award for Young Poets and The Slavić Award by Croatian Writers' Association for the best debut poetry collection in 1999. Valcer zmija (Waltzing Snakes, 2005) won The Kvirin Award for young poets. She also published: Postanak ptica (The Genesis of Birds, 2009), Hotel cu muzicieni (selected poems in Romanian, Bucharest, Romania, 2009, translated by Dumitru M. Ion) and Uzbrdo (Uphill, 2015). As a poet and as a musician she has collaborated with other artists in different projects (music, art, performance). She lives and works in Zagreb, Croatia.


Lieke Marsman

I've sketched that photo
of myself on a rock
in the Dolomites

to create an inverted image of my shadow
as if she'd like to race ahead of me
which she does

I have no trouble
giving frisky chimps the run of the place
which is why

if I were a country
i'd use the same tactics to
unite my assorted territories

devide myself in two
sport a tail

stand on my borders
and miss my islands

Translated from Dutch by Susan Massotty.

Lieke Marsman (Zaltbommel, 1990) studied philosophy in Amsterdam. Her first volume of poetry Wat ik mezelf graag voorhoud (What I Like to Impress upon Myself) was published in the autumn of 2010 and won several prizes for the best debut. In 2014 her second poetry collection De eerste letter (The First Letter) was published.


Patrick Chapman

The grinder demands
that I drop everything
so I may take her hand and dance

across the circus floor
but I am busy.
My hands are full.

See these orbs?
They are containers.
In the first is contagion.

In the second, flamenco.
In the fourth is the heart of a bull
made into a monkey-pump.

I do not know what the others contain
but I dare not open them.
What if they explode?

And how can you expect me
to hold a lance and ride a broken horse
and tilt at windmills?

I am not that man.
I'm a juggler now. My hands are full.
Please tell the grinder I am busy.

Patrick Chapman (1968) is the author of six poetry collections, the latest of which is A Promiscuity of Spines - New & Selected Poems, published by Salmon Poetry in 2012. His book of stories, The Wow Signal, appeared from Bluechrome in 2007. He has also written an award-winning short film, Burning the Bed (2003); a Doctor Who audio play, Fear of the Daleks (2007); as well as episodes of children's television series Garth & Bev (2010) and a forthcoming Wildernuts (2013). In 2010 his work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.


Terje Dragseth

Kill the monkey KILL THE MONKEY
cries the monkey through his megaphone
he stands in the ring in a blue silk suit
paper hat and Harlequin pants
under the gaudy lamps
to thundering applause

kiss the queen kiss the queen
says the prince in his squeaky voice
in a suit of exquisite silk
to the liberal advisor in a pink shirt
in the back room outside the ring
the conservative advisor whispers close to the prince's ear
- be patient be patient
we are waiting for someone to wake up
attack -
black gold in pipes in the ocean depths
- we also love selfless profits we also love oil
wait just wait a while -
the prince yawns sleepily and wants to be left in silence

the monkey lurks by the woods
beating the air with a bamboo stick in his leather gloves
he urinates against a lamppost
and glowers into the dark woods

the queen smears gold dust lipstick on to her dry cracked lips
over the mirrors
where the prince mirrors himself and his people

behind a concealed door
the prince's advisors are sharing cocaine
and lotto winnings
staring with wide eyes into their digital screens
rubbing their crotch rolling their eyes

they shoot the monkey through the back of his head
abduct the queen
and set the sea on fire

the prince sits sad and forlorn
on an empty barrel
waiting for someone to come
sing him a song
comfort him and carry him home

far away beyond the black smoke over mountain peaks
hills and fiords
there chimes a bell
it is KING CON TROLL calling summonsing
the one with a new face
the one with a new anti-program
he wants to renew the country
now the queen can be set free
show herself to the people in the costliest garments
now the queen will come
denominations will be as brothers
the logoball will roll in a gigantic stadium
golf balls will whistle over hill and dale
director CON TROLL
will again do his magic for young and old

the horses whinny and fret at the bit
the clowns sit on stones
weeping sad tears
the band strikes up with fanfares
in Circus Norwegen

Translated from Norwegian by Annabelle Despard.

Terje Dragseth (1955) is a poet, filmdirector, musician and painter. He made his debut as a poet in 1980 with Offerfesten (Seremony of Sacrifice). Later he published Ti titler (Ten Titles, collected poems 1980 - 2005) and Bella Blu, håndbok for verdensrommet (Bella Blu, handbook for the universe, 2012). As a  filmdirector he produced several short films. He also makes music with his band I Sing My Body Electric (see YouTube), available on cd and vinyl (Karmakosmetix).


Arnoud van Adrichem

Meanwhile, in Athens.
Thunder rolls over the capital, a marbled blue bowling ball
comes to a stop against the banks. Waves accost the coast,
sewers belch out gunk, the seasons are clogged with salt.
Filthy lucre landed us in this morass and will get us out
again. A tree trawls for coins, dredges up autumn instead.
(A bad sign.) The poem goes round like a collection box.
No one can prove that we are descended from the Greeks.
We go bald and grey but still have enough hair left to pull.
A bailout, a lifebuoy. Want to avert your fate? Sell it to the
highest bidder! Point your magnifying glass at a bank note,
wait for it to burst into flames, for it to talk.

Translated from Dutch by Susan Massotty

Arnoud van Adrichem (Delft, 1978) is a poet and member of the editorial board of the Flemish literary magazine DW B. He is also co-founder and editor of the platform for literary criticism Reactor and the literary weblog Ooteoote. In 2008 he made his debut with Vis (Fish), a collection of poems which was nominated for the 2008 C. Buddingh' Prize for new Dutch poetry, the prestigious 2009 Hughes C. Pernath Prize and the 2009 Charlotte Köhler Stipend. The bibliophilic collection Buiten (Outside) also appeared in 2008. In 2010 he published Stemvork (Tuning Fork), a collection of essays, poems and translations which he wrote in collaboration with Jan Lauwereyns. In the same year he published Een veelvoud ervan (A Multiple Thereof), a book that was nominated for the 2011 J.C. Bloem Poetry Prize, and in 2015 Geld (Money).


Andreja Hlupić

Pin point
Up to the point
Are we only as strong as we
Let other people be weak?
Let me be brave
Let me make moves so that other people
Can move as well
Are we only trying to be big in
The presence of the small?
Let me show you what my target
Really means
It means I am ready to get
I am a bull, as you know
And only wise, brave, strong can
Strike me
Make a point
With a sense of growth
Wisdom and love.

Translated from Croatian by Andreja Hlupić.


Jo Slade

The ringmaster watches from his closed interior -
every word he mouths dissolves against the glass.

He's watching us eat a breakfast of oats and ice.

The joker spreads a virus of deceit -

he wears a shirker's mask and fills our fists with sweets.

I have photographs as proof:

caged radicals, a swinging moon and glitter sticks,
sequinned women trafficked from the east,

trumpets hooting, everything undoing

and someone at the centre singing -
Ode to Attempts at Unity.

Who are these two - freedom and unity or

unity and freedom?
Is that romantic or eternity?

And the fire-eater's cocky face -

his shaven head, his tongue aflame inside his throat,
his civility, the lies, the half-democracies he invents.

Where is food for thought of citizens?

Emigrants move from place to place, they carry blankets

and old songs. Two trains leave every hour
from Athens to Gare Saint-Lazare.

Look in the mirror - look in truth, but who saw what?

When the blocks fell down another hell popped up
this time of plaster and dust.

Old cities, old light, old monsters buildings -

a woman swims beneath the lamps
like hope hopelessly in a trance.

I can't stop the dream that winter brings:

the carcass of a bird picked-clean
its wishbone a beam of light inside a vulture.

Snow is falling in Berlin.

In Mauerpark children walk their dogs.
City of dark nights, the Banks on Pariser Platz

are bright as vaulted churches.

Jo Slade is a poet and painter. She is the author of four collections of poetry: In Fields I Hear them Sing (Salmon Poetry, 1989); The Vigilant One (Salmon Poetry, 1994), which was nominated for the Irish Times / Aer Lingus Literature Prize. Certain Octobers (Editions Eireanna, Quimper France, 1997), a dual language English / French edition, which received a publication bursary from the Centre du Livre, Paris France; City of Bridges (Salmon Poetry, 2005) and a chapbook of poems, The Artist's Room (Pighog Press, Brighton England, 2010). A collection of poetry, The Painter's House, will be published by Salmon Poetry in 2013.


Peter van Lier

(cliffs galore, even without the quick intake of

The belly longs
surreptitiously for

footwork, head and trunk united in spewing their guts, but

reconciled to the acid. High above the chequered land
a chorus of howls mingles

              closely, very closely

with the faint, catchy tune that - we hope -
not only


                                 and here

allows the green acres to rustle
                                               as lived-in space.

Translated from Dutch by Susan Massotty.

Peter van Lier (Eindhoven, 1960) made his debut with Miniem gebaar (Slight gesture) in 1995, which was awarded the Vlaamse Gids Poetry Prize. This was followed in 1998 by Gegroet o... (Hail, Oh...), which was awarded the Jan Campert Prize and was nominated for the VSB Poetry Prize. His most recent collections of poetry are Zes wenken voor muggen aan de deur (Six Tips for Mosquitos at the Door, 2007) and Hoor (Listen, 2010). In collaboration with Machteld van Buren, he published Bodemsanering (Soil Cleanup, 2008) and Wisseling van de wacht (Changing of the guard, 2011), two chapbooks in which words and images form a unified whole. Futher information and translations of his work on Poetry International Web and BlazeVOX..