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find: Poetry The Netherlands

Rosey E. Pool    (1907 - 1971)  

poet / compiled anthologies on African American poetry,
The Netherlands

by Anneke Buys, The Netherlands.

...In 1925 while studying to become a teacher of English, she was told to read some American literature... The first poem she read was Incident by Countee Cullen...Rosey wrote to Countee Cullen and soon was in touch with a number of African American poets...In 1928..her graduation thesis was Die Dichtung des Nord-Americanishcen Negers (The poetic art of the North-American Negro)...

As the Nazi Party took power in the end of 1938, the situation became too dangerous for her ..and she returned to Amsterdam...She spent the last 19 months of the war in hiding... 1945 Rosey was baptized as a Roman Catholic...

Rosey got in touch with her American friends again who sent her poems to replace the ones she had lost. Soon she was giving recitals of Black Poetry... During this time a former acquaintance, Otto Frank, came to see her and showed her his daughter, Anne´s diary...Rosey helped Otto Frank to find a publisher for the book and she also made an English translation which was rejected by the publishers.

Rosey got in touch with her friend, Miss ´Isa´ Isenburg...They took a cruise on the Mediterranean that included visiting Israel. In Haifa they visited the Báb's mausoleum and here Rosey experienced a marvelous sense of peace. Something she had not felt since the war...
Later they visited Akka, and outside the prision she experienced the same vision she had had while undergoing torture by the Nazis. Just as she was losing consciousness, she felt herself to be on a brightly lit highway leading straight to God. Her friend, Isa, was so alarmed at her emotional state that she discouraged Rosey from entering the prison.

By the end of 1949, Rosey had moved to London to live with Isa. Their flat at 23a High Point was to become the focal point of many activities...

In 1958 Rosey published two anthologies of Black Poetry, Black and Unknown Bard; songs and poems used by a theatre group called The Company of Nine; and Ik zag hoe zwart ik was (I saw how Black I was)...
Rosey visited the U.S.A. several times, between September 1959 and May 1960, where she usually lectured on Black poetry and organized workshops on creative writing. She had an aversion towards segretation. When no ´mixed´ restaurants could be found, she would refuse to enter white ones, and because of this she would often take a lunchbox and find a bench...
Rosey began to investigate the Bahá´í Faith while she was in Huntsville, Alabama...

In 1966 she was invited to sit as a member of the pre-selection panel for literary prizes at the First World Festival of Negro Arts to be held in Dakar, Senegal, and received a list of works submitted. Two days later, when Marion Hofman ( A British Bahá´í and publisher)came to lunch and heard that Robert Hayden´s A Ballad of Remembrance was not entered, she asked: ´Is it too late?´...
...Rosey received the news that she had been chosen as one of the Dakar judges. In order to accept...she had to withdraw her own books Beyond the Blues, an anthology of Black Poetry...
On the 7th of April...the president of the festival, the poet Alioune Diop, announced to the audience the wonderful news of the artistic recognition of Rosey's Bahá´í brother, Robert Hayden. The Press release included...Africa is in his soul, he world at large is in his mind and heart.

Belsen, Liberation Day (for Rosey)

Her parents and her dolls destroyed,
her childhood foreclosed.
She stood that day and watched them from
the windows whose black bars

And mullions marked a cross upon
her livid face, ´ Liebchen,
Liebchen, you should be in bed,´
But she felt ill no longer.

And because that day was a holy day
when even the dead, it seemed,
msut rise, she was allowed to stay
and see the golden ones.

The foreign soldiers, grim and kindly
men from outer space
that only prayer can reach, strangers
who were father, brother

And her dream of God. Lovingly
she watched them. Afterward
she said, ´They were so beautiful,
and they were not afraid.´

Hieroglyph of my grandmother,
woodcut by Jacqueline Wassen,
The Netherlands.
Robert Hayden
(from, ik ben de nieuwe neger, published in 1965.
A collection of songs, documents and poems, with Dutch translations by Rosey Pool.)

excerpts from pages 17 - 18, Arts Dialogue, June 1995.

  • Artist Profile: Arts Dialogue, June 1995

Arts Dialogue, Dintel 20, NL 7333 MC, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands