The EvaTasFoundation encourages publication and promotion of texts that are, no matter where and no matter how, subject to censorship.
The war in former Yugoslavia has not only left its marks in cities and villages, but has also wreaked havoc within the interesting landscape of native languages such as Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian. As a form of literary historic preservation, the Macedonian cultural institute Blesok has initiated a series of publications by predominantly young poets in these languages. The fund has backed the financing of this.
Altijd weer Auschwitz (Auschwitz, time and again)
Among the board's first endeavors was to preserve the memory of Eva Tas by means of a biographical sketch which gives special attention to her work as chief editor of the Auschwitz Bulletin. J.J. Amesz and J.A. Honout, Eva Tas, Altijd weer Auschwitz, Azul Press, Maastricht, 2011. This publication is, in part, the reason why Eva has been included in the Digitaal Vrouwenlexicon of the Netherlands.
Under the supervision of the South African poet Breyten Breytenbach, and under the title Imagine Africa, the publishing department of the Gorée Institute has launched a series of publications which provide a 'state-of-the-art' view of South African culture. Collections of essays and poetry in a range of South African languages, by writers such as Akwasi Aidoo, Stephen Ellis, Ayo Obe, Andrew Gilmour and Shailja Patel, give shape to a differentiated yet also convergent portrayal of contemporary South African culture. The Eva Tas Foundation is supporting this initiative in terms of financial assistance as well as content.
Rule of Barbarism
In 1960 Abellatif Laâbi established his reputation as a poet and founder of the periodical Souffles. But this also brought him into conflict with the Moroccan authorities, who imprisoned and tortured him. After emigrating to France he continued to publish works, for which he was awarded such prizes as the Prix Goncourt de la Poésie, in 2009, and the Grand Prix de la Francophonie in 2011. Outside the French-speaking regions, however, this famous yet exiled avant-garde poet remained largely unknown. Thanks to support from the Eva Tas Foundation, the widely praised English translation of his collection by André Naffis-Sahaly, titled The Bottom of the Jar. The Rule of Barbarism (Archipelago Books, New York) could be published in 2013.
The selected poems of Corsino Fortes
Thanks to the leading translators Daniel Hahn and Sean O’Brien the lyrically and politically powerful Selected Poems of the major Cape Verdean writer, Corsino Fortes has been brought into English. Corsino Fortes, born in 1933 was a poet, activist, educator, lawyer and diplomat. He was Cape Verde’s ambassador to both Portugal and Angola and served as a judge in Angola. Writing in a mixture of Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole, he describes his country in the heated, generative moments of its new formation. As much as these poems emerge from the archipelago, they also describe the emigration of its people into Europe and the United States.
The Assymptot Journal of February 2015 calls it a magnificent, generous, and bilingual presentation of Corsino Fortes’s work to anyone who enjoys grappling with the poignant, the sensuous, and the esoteric. The Eva Tas Foundation supported the publication of this bundle.
In 2010 two young journalists from Sudan found themselves forced to flee, by way of Cairo, to Kampala, Uganda. There, on the website www.hurriyatsudan.com, they set up an online magazine that focused on the political situation in their own country and surrounding countries. Despite the great number of visitors to the website, it became clear that the readership remained low due to the fact that many people in that part of the world still have no access to the Internet. For that reason the initiators sought support from the Eva Tas Foundation, so that a printed version of the magazine could be distributed throughout Sudan. The foundation did comply with their request and has financed three years of publication.
The banning of publications, particularly those dealing directly or indirectly with the theme of freedom in that country, is the order of the day in Vietnam. In view of those circumstances, it comes as no surprise that the work of poets is frequently rejected by the Vietnamese censor. The Eva Tas Foundation has financed the production, outside Vietnam, of two collections by young Vietnamese poets, in English translations and in the original language: by Bůi Chát, One-rhyme Poems, and by Lý Doi, When Our Enemy Falls Asleep. A substantial number of copies of these publications were able to be smuggled into Vietnam, where they were distributed under the supervision of the authors.
Maastricht International Poetry Nights
Mainly in order to broaden the potential to invite major poets from countries where censorship takes place, of where poets are subject to pressure in other ways, the Eva Tas Foundation has financially supported several editions of the biennial international poetry festival held in Maastricht.
On the occasion of the republication of Bert Schierbeek's collected work, the Eva Tas Foundation held a well-attended literary afternoon devoted to this writer who, undeservedly, faded into obscurity.
The foundation financed the publication of a book titled Delayed Democracy, how press freedom collapsed in Gambia (Author House LLC, Bloomington IN, USA). Here refugee investigative journalist and former chief editor of the Gambian newspaper The Independent, Alagi Yorrow, describes president Yahya Jammeh's take-over in his country and subjects this to further analysis based on historical, political and socio-economic perspectives.
When the Russian/Chechen investigative journalist and human-rights activist Natalia Estemirova was murdered under circumstances which have yet to be explained, her talented daughter Lana lost not only her mother, but also her prospects of a proper education. In collaboration with various individuals and organizations, a fund was set up to safeguard her future in that respect. The Eva Tas Foundation was among the initiators.
One of the reasons why Ronny Someck can be called an unusual poet is that he has a combined Arab/ Israeli background. Born in Baghdad in 1951, he emigrated to Israel as a child.
This mix, which clearly echoes throughout his work, puts Someck (who is also active as a performer, visual artist and composer) in an exceptional position in that part of the world which is so afflicted with mutual distrust. For the Eva Tas Foundation this was a decisive reason for supporting the publication of his collection Asphalt Dragons (Azul Press, 2011) which is illustrated with his own graphic work.
The fund provided a financial contribution toward the publication of the first three volumes of The Journal of Tibetan Studies. This is a publication which conveys, in Tibetan, the results of research on various areas of the seriously endangered Tibetan culture, such as religion, literature and history. Issued twice per year, the periodical is distributed at schools, universities and other educational institutions outside Tibet. This is prohibited in the country itself. As such, a vital contribution can be made, in the face of repression, to the preservation and enrichment of the Tibetan culture; and young Tibetan researchers as well as readers are urged to keep their culture alive and resist pressure from Chinese sources. At universities throughout the world, interest in the Tibetan culture is growing steadily. The cultural/scholarly periodical therefore also offers articles that have been written by non-Tibetan researchers outside Tibet.
As a victim of a brutal unsolved murder Chief editor and initator of the magazine, Lobsang Chokta, died last february. At this moment the consequences for the continuity of the magazine are uncertain.
Workplace for writers
In countries where censorship and repression are prevalent, it is mainly laws, rules and authorities that limit the freedom of writers. In the 'free world', on the other hand, it is sooner the day-to-day worries that obstruct the freedom of being able to write. In both instances, an atmosphere in which an author can work without disruption for a certain period could provide a solution. With this in mind we realised on the Dutch isle of Texel the possibility of offering an appropriate facility where writers would be able to work quietly in inspiring surroundings while, for example, finishing a manuscript, a compilation of work, or an essay.
The fund provided a supplement to the travel budget of journalist Maartje Duin to give her the opportunity to pay extra attention during her research on Cuba to the situation regarding the freedom of expression since the recent liberalization of relations with the West. She reported about her findings in Dutch magazines like De Groene Amsterdammer (September 29, 2016), VPRO- gids (July 16, 2016) and the September issue of the Amnesty International periodical, Wordt Vervolgd. On July 21, 2016, Dutch Radio 1 broadcasted her program titled The Skaters of Havana.
In our series about censorship in the world Amir Valle wrote in Palabras Amordazadas (Gagged, in English translation) about the situation in Cuba - nowadays and in the past. He made clear that the freedom of the written word on the island was and is still far from ideal. There are still hardly any possibilities to publish in full freedom work of contemporary Cuban writers. This situation is a direct threat to the free development of Cuban literature. Publishing house Bokehpress based in Leiden, the Netherlands, is able to offer some relief through the publication of the work of Cuban writers and poets. Moreover, the two founders of this special publishing house, a Dutch lady who studied Spanish literature and the Cuban artist is exile, have found a way to distribute their books in Cuba among a growing interested public. The foundation will provide additional funding during the year 2017 for this important cultural initiative.
During the Frankfurter Book Fair 2016 it was announced that the 14th Documenta, which will be held in 2017 both in Kassel as well as in Athens, will pay special attention to the book burning by the Nazis in 1933.
Dokumenta 14 will follow the moving example of the Argentine artist Marta Minujin. In 1983 she built on the 9th Avenue Julio in Buenos Aires a copy of the Parthenon of Athens by using banned books as material. That was her way to commemorate the evil of censorship during the reign of the Argentine dictator julio Videla. In Kassel a special Parthenon will be established on the Friedrich Platz, the place where the burning took place in this city. The main building material of its copy of the Acropolis temple will be lots of books by writers who were boycotted and persecuted by the Nazis.
The Dokumenta organization called on publishers and individuals to provide books for the project. The answer of the Eva Tas Foundation was to a buy from antiquarian bookshops a hundred books of Dutch authors who were put on the "Schwarze Liste" by the Nazis during the occupation of the Netherlands. The books were sent to Kassel as building blocks for the reconstruction of the unique landmark of political and aesthetic freedom. Thereby certainly played a role that Eva Tas mentioned the burning of the books of her beloved German writers, including Thomas Mann, as one of the most horrible messages from her German teacher at the Vossius Gymnasium of Amsterdam.
Railway to Auschwitz
Why the Allies have failed in World War II to bomb the railways to Auschwitz and other extermination camps? Why did not they try in this way to prevent, or at least limit, the murder of so many Jews, Roma/Sinti and gay? These are questions that concern many people for many years. In their television documentary, Het Spoor naar Auschwitz (Railway to Auschwitz) Dutch journalist Frénk van der Linden and director Gisčla Mallant are in search of an explanation for the fact that Western leaders like Churchill and Roosevelt did not commission to wipe out the trains with the main death camps. Ultimately, there remain two questions unanswered: were these politicians not interested? Or was it by the state of the former technique simply impossible to perform the required precision bombing?
When at the last moment the budget was inadequate to complete the project, the board made a financial contribution. Considering that Eva Tas was editor in chief of the Dutch Auschwitz Bulletin, it was for sure acting in her spirit.
Series on censorship
The series of booklets on censorship has become our main task in recent years and will most likely be the coming years. We have now published eight titles. The printed versions of the booklets are free of charge available on demand, as an ebook through the usual channels, and as a PDF on this website.