Stefa Govaart


FANG rewrites The Book of Psalms, working towards the theatrical staging of a long-form poem. FANG began with psalm 119. Historically hailed as repetitive and borig, its 176 verses contain an unusually elaborate sequence of synonyms for rule. The psalmist seeks support, guidance, help, comfort, protection, a pillar, a foundation. How does repeated content bear/carry formal intervention? Using English translations available at, dictionaries, and further linguistic support, FANG obsesses over locution, idioms and jargon poised between the vernacular, the religious and the philosophical, over how our tongues are made. Its content foregrounds the repetitive psalmic narration of surrender, submission and adoration to prompt audiences to think sex, love and “themselves” in light of property, power and authority. Questions, statements, commands and exclamations summon (distinct structures of) address. There isn’t a paucity of means: the autonomy of the signifier is language’s charge. Consider your investment in the word’s lack of integrity, the breakup of syllables, synonym, and timbre of voice. Can you experience negativity; eccentricity? Can lament be generalized and activated through posture, translation and repetition? Can we trace the linkages between the psychic life of rule, body and capital: “My soul is consumed with longing/ for your laws at all times” (Ps 119:72). At Tempel, FANG stages psalm 1-7, 15, 23, 24, 27, 55, 88, 91, 117, 119, 121, 139 and 150. 



Adored are those who are somewhat frank.

Those who do so little wrong, who do maybe nothing wrong, you do good to them.

You’ve laid down aspirations. 

If only my actions were consistent. 

If only I were fashion. 

Then I shall not be confounded.

As I learn living as I should, I will thank you by working you out. 

Don’t turn your back on me. 

Turn your life to me. 

How can I keep my way pure?

How can I be?

Direct my path, manage my drive.

Can men not be?

How are boys?

With what does a boy purify?

Don’t let me not ask you. 

I have stored you and laid you up in my insides.

I recite aloud what’s yours.  

With my lips I press out questions. 

I utter you out of my insides, it’s doing a lot to me.

Following you brings as much pleasure as being rich. 

I like you as much as a bag.

I weigh you up. 

I’m like a dog.

Be good to me. 

Open my eyes, uncover my mind, and compensate me. 

I live in you as a resident. 

My heart aches.

Do you think it is going to break?; how is it going to break?

You tell off the arrogant.

You dress them down. 

Remove from me all awfulness. 

Take away from me the rulers, the snobs.

Be my best friend. 

Look at me, I am laid low in the dust.

I lie in the mud: defeated, collapsed.

I have given you an account.

My plans: voilà. 

I tell you everything, each item, the whole shebang.

Your wondrous works are in my telling, are in my soul melting away.

I am troubled and heavy.

Put false ways away from me.

Put me far from me.

Can one be removed from a life of lies?  

Can one be granted something?

Okay: what is a choice?

I hold. 

I cling. 

I cleave. 

I’m eager.

Can you point, point, point?

Can you, can you, can you? 

Can you gesticulate?

Let’s ride together: my joy is in it. 

Incline me to you, not to gain.

This love for money: there it is. 

Take away my foolish desires from beholding vanity, and give me you in your way.

Give me life. 

Establish your parlance to me.

And a sentiment. 

And a love, a longing, a loss.

Yes, come to me.

I can answer anyone who bullied me.

Don’t take away my chance to speak.

I’ll be with you, by you, in you.

Look, I stand in an open expanse.

I trust you so much, this is devotion. 

I even speak of you before kings!

How I love you!

Yes, I love you. 

My reverence runs deep, I don’t know how deep.

My veneration is intense, pregnant with respect.

I don’t even know the length of my arms. 

Remember what you said to me: that this was okay. 

Recall that you would be there for me.

I am hurt, dishonest dudes do me pain, what can I do?

Arrogant fuckers scoff at me.  

You don’t, you teach me being.  

You stood the test of time. 

I’m into you, now and forever.

Those who aren’t, who do they think they are?

I become furious, what the fuck.

You’ve been my song wherever I lodge. 

I reflect at night on who you are. 

Heeding you with all it takes is how I spend my time, so that I find happiness through you. 

You are my portion and choice. 

I invoke your face, beg you to be as you are, want to win your favor. 

I pay careful attention as I turn my feet to you.

I ponder what manner to go.

Malicious people setting traps, depart from me.

In the middle of the night I wake up and rise: I cannot regard those who ignore you.

Those who partake in you, I’m their friend.

The world is filled with you.

How you have dealt well with me is just so good!

I can barely believe how you have treated me. 

Are you going to give me more wisdom?

I made mistakes, miscalculated, blundered.

I’ve erred.

You are good and you do good and what you do is good. 

Lies are everywhere. 

Who is full of themselves?

Who is a cocky liar?

Some hearts are cold-hearted, callous, unfeeling.

They are insensitive, covered with unyielding fat, curdled like sour milk. 

They are pure grease. 

They have no sense with their clogged minds, gross and thick as a penis.

After my encounter with you, things were okay for me. 

For you are more to me than thousands of silver and gold pieces.

You exceed expensiveness. 

Your fashion, hands and establishment are in me: help me understand it. 

I am shaped, hewn. 

Those who are into you have form.

Your decisions are exemplary, nonpareil.

What is a rule?

I bear with your appetite, your cravings, needs and demands. 

Let me stagger and slip in my cheapening. 

I’m losing value…it’s okay. 

I just be with you.

Put down those who fuck the rest, who think they are.

My heart is a hollow heart.

I have patience, keep at it, press on. 

Will I have gone out like a light, because of being worn out from the waiting?

Can you come now?

I am like a wineskin in the smoke in which I hang, shriveled, as dry as a bone, past my best. 

I feel like a week of cold weather. 

I need to be heated.

When will you go into action?

Can you please act against the arrogant who outsmart me with their mendacity?

Liars, compulsive liars, therapeutically incurable equivocators, can they go?

They almost made an end of me!

They couldn’t do it all the way!

I must have emanated your warmth. 

What would an exposition of your goodwill be like?

It seems to be firm, fixed in the sky.

What’s its location?

What are you even worth?

Are you effect?

I’d say…never mind.  

I cannot explain you to me. 

I cannot forget. 

How I have a thing for you!

How I think the world of you!

I really cannot forget you.

Many lie in wait to do me harm.

I like how you make me sharp.

You have given me insights.

I discern much more: that which leads to trouble is bad, I keep my feet from it.

How pleasing it is what you have to say to me!

Sweetness reaches the roof of my palate; it is better than honey to my mouth.

Give your locution to me!

Let me amass your idioms!

Aggrieved being is what I accrue. 

The charge I get from being on this path!

I promise, I like you a lot.

You are a lamp unto my feet, I really like you a lot.

Liking you a lot uplifts the pain I also feel. 

My life constantly hangs in the balance. 

Who hasn’t set a snare for me?

I wonder if you will accept the freewill offerings of my mouth. 

You are a most prized thing.

I’ve made up my mind, my inner life is set, I’m set, I can go on forever.

I hate vain thoughts. 

I hate those with divided loyalties.

I hate two-faced people. 

I hate transgressors, the unjust.

I hate those who are of a double mind.

I seek shelter, a shield, a hiding place.

Be my helper, my fortress!

Away from me, you evildoers!

I have regard for you.

I deem you, esteem you.

How will I uphold your expectations?

Don’t skim me off like scum. 

My body shudders. 

Don’t leave me here.

My eyes fail with longing.

Deal with me. 

Give me discernment and a soul.

It is time for us.

I love you.

I love you more than gold.

I love you above gold, above the purest gold.

You mean more to me than precious stones, than the finest gold.

You are not to be had for love or money. 

You are right, I consider you to be just. 

You are wonderful, a doorway that lets the light in: no wonder I want to be with you.

I open my mouth and pant.

I open my mouth wide and pant.

I open wide my mouth and pant with anticipation.

I open wide my mouth and pant with anticipation and awe. 

In my desire for you I pant with mouth agape.

I honestly want to get to know you.

Look to me, can you prepare my goings.

Redeem me.

Make my face. 

Smile on me.

My eyes shed tears. 

Tears blinding and blessing flow from my vision. 

I weep, wail, sob, bawl. 

You’re excellent. 

Your moves are excellent.

My zeal, will it wear out?

Are you pure? 

Is your language pure? 

Will you render me pure?

Will you make me good, ethical, right-minded, principled, upstanding, elevated, worthy, irreproachable, pure as the driven snow?

Will this be bad still?

I am lowly, insignificant, despised, juvenile, trivial, meagre, modest, simple.

You’re not. 

You give me pleasure, glee.

May I?

You shall!

I call out to you. 

I rise before dawn.

I rise before dawn and hail you.

I rise with the watches of the night, cry for help, hope for you.

Listen, can you hear me?

Devised nasty schemes are hurtful. 

You stay far, but last.

Agony, humiliation, misery, argue my case.

Take sides. 

You typically do the right thing.

Fuck, do it. 

Disloyal dealers make me sick at heart. 

Behold, spot, act.

The sum of you is some kind of perfect organ, some kind of objectless fear. 

I am gladdened.

I found treasures, truthfulness. 

I hate lies.

I hate and detest all lies.

I hate and detest falsehood.

I hate and abhor all falsehood.

I hate, abhor and despise all lies, falsehood, deceit, iniquity and unrighteousness.

I hate lying, I hate untruth, I hate telling stories, I am disgusted with it.

I can't stand fabricators.

You are just.

Lately, I have felt less sick, have sensed you around.

I long.

I heed.

I keep.

I stack.

I stock. 

I pile up, handle, supply. 

I am fully known before you.

Listen to my supplication.


I flow. 

I overflow. 

I siphon off. 

Let my tongue pronounce you.

Give me a helping hand.

I long, I long lots. 

I keep alive.

I go astray, astray like a lost sheep. 

Can you come.