Our love letter in Dutch!

-click here to listen to “Love Letta to de Worl’” in Dutch-

Frank X Walker’s poem was translated in Dutch by Laurent De Maertelaer and Ann Catteeuw. Many thanks to both of them!

Originally from Belgium, Laurent studied English literature in Gent, Belgium and Anglo-Irish literature and drama in Dublin, Ireland. He has worked in the film industry since 2000: first, as the curator of the Musée du cinema in Brussels and then for the Huis van Alijn museum, situated in the historic center of Gent. The core business of the museum is “daily life in the 20th century.” Laurent is currently busy with the unique home movies collection of the museum and with preparing 6 film booths in which the movies will be viewed all over the city.

Ann is also from Belgium. She studied philosophy and communication in Gent, and is currently studying Russian, one of her great passions. She has been a student of Russian language and culture for over 20 years, but is now taking her passion to an academic level.

Ann and Laurent met at the Musée du cinema in Brussels and got married almost exactly 5 years ago: on July 15, 2011. They live in Melle, a small town outside of Gent, together with Ann’s 21-year-old son Nils. They have 3 cats and are both avid readers.

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Jessica Gordon’s “inspire”

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“I wanted a tattoo for years, something tangible that symbolized where I came from and what I’d accomplished throughout my life. Often I forget that I have come farther than I ever dreamed I would as a child, and I constantly put pressure on myself to do more, go farther, extend beyond the limits, no matter what. There are times, too, when a bout of depression takes hold and it becomes very easy to lose myself. I thought with a tattoo there would be a permanent mark grounding me into my own skin, a tether to find my way out of the dark thoughts in my mind and back home.

When I saw the word ‘inspire’ in Love Letter To the World, I knew that word and those star shapes would go somewhere on my body. Inspiration has kept me alive. I’m inspired by novels, music, my teachers, the people I love, and the world I live in, every day. To have my tattoo be a part of that world, a part of something bigger than myself … I couldn’t imagine doing otherwise.

However, I wanted to add my own symbols, to show what inspired me personally. Dogwood flowers, a treasured part of spring in Kentucky, brought me such joy every year when they blossomed. By association, I tie them in with all that is Kentucky, including the family and friends I left behind when I moved to Japan. Since I live in Japan, I decided to also include sakura (cherry blossoms), as they parallel dogwood flowers in that both bloom in spring. I consider sakura a representation of my new life, with new friends and new adventures on this side of the world. Finally, I researched very hard to find a perfect translation for ‘inspire’ into Japanese kanji. This part was a bit tricky, as some Japanese kanji don’t translate so well into Chinese characters, and vise versa. I ended up going with kobu (鼓舞), for it is considered a ‘classical’ kanji in that it hasn’t changed from the Chinese reading.

Japan continues to inspire me, and yet I was warned away from getting a tattoo here in Japan. People are banned from onsens (public hot spring baths), beaches, public swimming pools, gyms, and many other places for having a tattoo. The belief that ‘only criminals have tattoos’ has persisted despite the growing interest in tattoos and more young people getting inked. I was told to get something small, that I would want something smaller anyway as it was my first one.

And then McKay, my tattoo artist, showed me the sketch based on my ideas. I knew I needed that picture on me, on my leg! More determined than ever, I lay down for over four hours and healed over the course of three weeks. Now every time I see my tattoo in the mirror, I feel pride for daring to do it, despite the clash against social norms. I feel that now I have a new goal, to inspire my students the way I’ve been inspired. Another benefit is that even on the weeks when my energy drops to nothing and I cry every afternoon after work, I can just look down and tell myself how I’m stronger than I ever was before, and the proof is right there.

I’m a part of the love letter to the world, the one who inspires and is inspired.”