Erupting – Home

Friday, 24 January 2020 00:00

Poetry issues #22, 3/5: Erupting – Home

The past two weeks, Part 1 and Part 2 of poetry issues #22 were published. This week, Part 3, containing the poem "Erupting" and the visual piece "Family," appears here. The following two Fridays the last two parts of the issue will be published.


poem and artwork


You can find out more about the poetry issues project here.



Published in poetry

Hibernation Advice – Family

Friday, 17 January 2020 00:00

Poetry issues #22, 2/5: Hibernation Advice – Family

Last week Part 1 of poetry issues #22, containing "A Balcony" and "The View" was published. This week's poem is "Hibernation Advice," and "Family" is its accompanying visual piece. Every Friday for the next three weeks, a new poem will be published along with its unique artwork. Together, they will comprise poetry issues #22.


poem and artwork


 You can find out more about the poetry issues project here.




Published in poetry

A Balcony – The View

Friday, 10 January 2020 00:00

Poetry issues #22, 1/5: A Balcony – The View

Every Friday for the next four weeks, a new poem will be published, along with its unique artwork. Together, they will comprise poetry issues #22.




You can find out more about the poetry issues project here.




Published in poetry

Seasons (het jaar rond)

Thursday, 03 October 2019 00:00

I am happy to announce that the poem "Seasons (het jaar rond)" that Alida van Leeuwen and I wrote in collaboration has been published in the newspaper LisserNieuws on October 1st. "Seasons (het jaar rond)" is a two languages experiment, and the result is quite interesting. Here is the poem (without the spelling mistake that appears in the paper):


Seasons (het jaar rond) - Duo dicht Maria Exarchou/Alida van Leeuwen

It starts in winter as a distracting recollection
of poppy red dispersing in the late afternoon sun.

Ik voel de eerste zonnestralen
zie zonnig geel en vurend rood
en spring vol vreugde de lente in

Riding the tip of the rainbow I shed my old skin
freed by the explosion of purple in the meadows.

De warme kleuren van de zomerse zon
geven alles een nieuwe tint
Mijn zonnebril beschaduwt de wereld

I don't want this life to end. I find closure in
silver autumn clouds: Like seasons, we'll return.

Een zucht vol winterse geuren
vullen mijn daagse dromen
De temperatuur daalt



Published in news

(One more) Exhibition! [updated]

Thursday, 31 January 2019 00:00


The show mentioned below was followed by another one with the same theme, on another location of BplusC, at Stevenshof Library, Trix Terwindtstraat 6 in Leiden. The show began early May (2019) and is on until the 15th of June. Here's an impression:

Leiden 2019




Just like last year, the library of BplusC (Nieuwstraat 4, Leiden) is celebrating poetry with a unique group exhibition. And since it is 350 years from the death of Rembrandt, this is an exhibition in his memory. The show has already started (on the 29th of January) and will be on until the 25th of February.

For now, if you can't visit the library in person to enjoy the works of almost thirty artists, you can read my contribution here:


The Night Watch


A darkness as thick as molasses —

a spoonful of struggles yet to come.


There is humanity in simple gestures,

frailty in men carrying useless guns.


Depth is carved on dancing shadows

a soft light enters within from above.


A kind hand smoothens the contrasts

until a night is not a night after all.


Update: Visiting the show, I was happy to find out that another one of my poems, "Psychographics" from the Poetry Issues project, is also included. Enjoy below a small sample of a beautiful exhibition curated by Alida van Leeuwen:




[At the same time, another exhibition is taking place in The Hague.]


Published in news

poetry issues #21

Friday, 25 January 2019 00:00

A very special labor, the January-February issue. I hope you enjoy stories of identity and struggle:




Better watch people

from afar, like big cities.

Admire their beauty

from a distance and avoid

touching their fences.


On Saturn I'd be

five kilos less and that's what

matters more in this

floating universe where not

a thing weighs more than I.



Family Gatherings


All children wanted to be men

and no one cared to pick

homegrown rosemary and dill

for the women in the kitchen.


The boys came in pairs to steal

little cheese pies, then went on

with their precious outdoor life

of playing football and riding bikes.


The girls feared nothing more

than becoming their mothers

with lives spent over lemons

and eggs in hot fish soups.


We didn’t know then that kitchens

held so many secrets, far more

steaming than backyard politics.

Women have been always winning.





The crashing density  the stuffy thoughts

Of asthmatic lungs      gulping

The fake air               with greed

Everyone is trying

To grasp                   what they can

An old woman's         out of luck

Girlish games

Tired pigtails             unwashed

Nicotine and coffee    but

Without infatuation

The earth is flat         just

Give me oxygen



I'll Play it Cool


Every time

you want to hurt me

you twist your tongue

to warm it up

before it hits me

with whip-like speed.


I was never fast

with words and now

your gun of a finger

is pointing at me.

I will remain silent.

You cannot win.


The Duck Painting


It’s hard to tell if it is monochrome

or just faded into a pale delft blue

and why it's hanging in the living room

in this furnished simulation of some

home. I’ll change it – a lasting addition

in the long list of intentions. I start

counting the ducks but get distracted

by the frame. Gold and metallic and

more eighties than my mother. She

had one that looked the same. So,

there’s a faint reminder of who I am.

You find strange ways to connect

when life is condensed to a trolley bag.


 [You will learn more about the Poetry Issues project here.]


Published in news

(Another) Exhibition!

Tuesday, 15 January 2019 00:00

Five months ago, I mailed these works to a person I have never seen, to be included in an upcoming mail-art exhibition entitled What Makes You Happy. This group exhibition is taking place now in The Hague and you can read more about it here (.pdf courtesy of Alex Witter).


This is the second time my work is being included in a group exhibition in the Netherlands. The first one was here. I'm looking forward to many more!

Published in news

poetry issues #20

Wednesday, 07 November 2018 00:00

Enjoy the November-December issue!





Some days felt like prose

in a sloppy, ambitious mind,

striving to be written but

unable to attain

comprehensive form.


Trudging through the quagmire

of censorship the days dreamt

of the day they’d flow like verse

unconcerned with technique,

never intended to be performed.


But language and reason stood

as one immovable rock, blocking

intuition and broader definitions.

Those days became ink dissolved

in stale waters drunk by mosquitos.



The Feather


Not from a chaste, white dove

but factory born, with no potential

to reach the sky. Promiscuous and orange

descended from a flamboyant boa, full

of silky plastic charm. Forever reeking

of cigarillos and patchouli, imperfect

and only fit for falling, first right

then left and back in a slow diagonal

dance of false aerodynamics rectified

by gravity’s unfaltering axis.



Coming Home


Everything has to end

where it started from.

That’s why I always return

to the scene of our calm crimes

tracing back long lines of sin

filling out logs with updates

on the metastases and spread

of guilt. Everything has to end

where it started from and I’d sworn

there wouldn’t be a doorstep

I would stand on twice

when knocking would be dropping

my arms in unwise surrender.

But how tempting it feels to unburden!



Fake Fighters


We thought it would be the last fine day.

We stayed outside and took it all in.

The sun, the breeze, the smell of green.


When more gleaming mornings came

we stayed in, restricted by circumstance

or obligation. We let out sighs of relief  


when the land finally gave in to the cold.

Even happiness had gotten tiring.



Icarus in the Atlantic

                      *for Ger Lataster


The reverent viewers debated in whispers

whether light could be mastered

in dark times, obscenely reflected as it were

on a pearl earring, forcing them to admit

the relevance of beauty in the ugly,

cranky world. They went on from wall to wall

undeterred by the overload of masters

of the Golden Age, all of them demanding

a bow. A boy of five, with no taste for detail

and no appreciation at all for human effort

pointed at the ceiling and chose

the abstraction of the working man

and the strawberry jam before he ran

straight to the windows past the Rembrandts

and their servants, unabashedly showing

preference for the frames of moving life.



 [You will learn more about the Poetry Issues project here.]

Published in news

poetry issues #19

Wednesday, 05 September 2018 19:05

The September-October issue should be enough to keep you busy for a while. Enjoy.





Over a boiling pot

we wait for small epiphanies

bemused by the stillness

of the branches outside.

Do our black cats make us

witches? Shall we burn?

The Inquisition says we shall.

The Weather


Sure, let’s talk about the weather

like our lives depend upon it

like our crops will fail

and famine will hit

our fatty brains.

Relieved that it won’t rain

we’ll go for a walk

step on our horseshit

and still come home miserable.

Better stay inside, watch a movie.



Between birthday parties

and treasure hunts

I have to explain

why I made him and

affirm I’ll still love him

after I die.


I’d never thought

I'd give myself up

but here we are

swearing by Jedi honor,

shovelling sand in ecstasy.


Nothing much in it

but abundant poetry.

Seaside Resort


Don’t scorn the floral patterns

and the doughnut-shaped waists

nor the high-pitched laughter

and the fuzzy stares.


Footsteps echo louder

at the end of August

and pining mixes with the smell

of fresher fish and ice-cream cones.



Old bones assembled by magic.

Nothing else seems to hold.

We all scolded him for lying

but he was the conqueror

of the seven seas

in my five-year-old mind.


He instilled in me two shipwrecks

an abstract love for Argentina

and going rogue under fake names

in the US in the 50’s.


The giant is folding in his seat:

An overripe camellia flower

that forgot to fall apart.




[You will learn more about the Poetry Issues project here.]

Published in news

What Makes You Happy

Monday, 13 August 2018 00:00

Poetry Issues has skipped a beat and there is no July-August issue. However, this is for a good reason besides the holiday slack. I was invited by Alex Witter to participate in a mail-art exhibition and I've been busy answering the hard question posed by the theme: "What makes you happy?"




A rare walk-in gem

shutting out the noise.


A meditation as deep

as death, with openings


from where to emerge fearless

and wise. Darkness as peace


for wild, overexposed eyes.




Wild Flowers


They come uninvited.

Pink and purple perseverance.

Hideous unsanctioned seeds

making no plea to the bees.

I let them take over the garden. 

It’s always the stranger

that moves you forward.






I get this funny feeling

that there’s enough air

in my lungs, the certainty

that we will make it.


Brush strokes rushing

past, tangled in your hair

the world, a bonfire simile

lit by midday heat.


If you try breathing

your body simply dares

to ache, making getaway

from its weary myths.




Your Laughter


Not the reserved, polite one

but the one that gushes out

letting your teeth show

thrusting your head back

blocking your breath –


      from wall 

to wall. An echo

fighting dust from dust to dust.


Alex Witter has set up a great inventory of all artists and works participating in this upcoming exhibition, where you'll find amazing work from artists from all over the world.

Published in news
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