The immigrants carry home, history and heritage inside through all their movements. This memory at times remains personal, but if articulated well transcends personal boundary. Memoirs of immigrants have revealed personal, social and cultural ties they missed or felt adherent to. Sometimes the personal memories have gained broader meaning and resonated even beyond the immigrant’s immediate community. As we talked with Carola and explored her journey as a poet and then as a poetry performer, it is evident that she could blend her heritage from the East with the living experience in the West.
Poulomi Roy in a free flowing conversation with Carola Eijsenring, a poet and performer of Indo-Dutch origin
Carola Eijsenring is the second of the three daughters of Indo-Dutch parents. Her ancestors are mainly from Indonesia, and from several European countries (Switzerland, Portugal, France, The Netherlands). She herself grew up between the Netherlands and Suriname. Her family migrated over the years constantly up and down, and back again, between and within these countries. The repetitive migrations brought an ongoing changing of homes and family settings.
Yet, this was not just particular for her own family. In fact, it was typical for her whole Indo community, all with mixed ethnic and cultural backgrounds, spread over almost all continents. Those cultural genes seem to influence the way she wrote her poems and lived her life, always driven by intuition and fluidly following what comes up, without questioning in advance.
Because of her way of living ‘in diaspora’, there has always been a lot of letter writing back and forth, and a lot of sharing oral stories as well, especially when meeting in ‘kumpulans’ (big gatherings of Indo friends & family). Having grown up in this storytelling culture, she wrote long letters too. Later short stories were added, initially just for herself.
And, then poetry happened. Immediately she found a new language of expressing herself. Some years later, composing poetry became more serious. When she received the Dünya Poetry International Award 2004, in Rotterdam, it also initiated her into reciting poetry in public which she subsequently did on all kinds of stages,
This ‘going public’ led in 2007 to an invitation from a visual artist to cooperate with her and her musical partner (pianist/cellist) to co-create a performance in which they combined three artistic disciplines. This first half-hour-show was performed in Breda. That was when her poetry started interacting with other art forms.
Shortly after, Carola was introduced to another musician in Nijmegen. Soon after, the duo started to create another half-hour-performance around her poems, accompanied by different instruments, all played by him. This collaboration has been very intense and inspiring. For the next few years, they performed the ‘Cracking Glass’ show in many places around the country.
Not long after, she collaborated with another musician, Erik Deckert (didgeridoo player).
Their first spontaneous gig together was in 2013, invited and brought together by the organizer of the intimate event. Although unprepared, their gig that evening felt as if they had always been performing together.
To start with Carola’s poems were in Dutch. So were her performances. Slowly Carola started writing in English, to make it more accessible for the large international community in Eindhoven. The first larger show was titled ‘Burning Blood’, named after a phrase in one of the poems. That led to the Birth of Burning Blood, poetry performance group.
Now the Burning Blood family has grown into a fluid group with multi-talented musicians, artists and others, around Carola’s poetry. An international group of people with roots from all over the world. They are adding to the group and the gigs from their own experiences, cultural heritages, specific sounds and colors from Brazil, Chili, India, Indonesia, Iran, Maroc, The Netherlands, Turkey. Burning Blood has become their creative home.