Winter Landscape

In vain I raise eyes that are closed to see; I find the landscape now enclosing me that before the dawn loomed cold in my mind’s eye: a man’s last bike-ride into fenland snow in search of silence like an embryo, breath-clouds condensed around his mouth as he went by. Winter, resembling Dutch School scenery.…

September

I’m home again. Summer’s enjoyed and done and all returns now to its ancient way. The apples fall, the grass has turned to hay. On the planking walnuts clatter one by one. The water lies transparent in the ditches, gone is the ferment of the weeds and algae, the gudgeon now approach perceptibly more closely,…

Under a Famous Overcast Sky

Along the dike beside the restless river someone lumbers along for the sake of his health in a well-known brand of running shoes someone else on a bicycle is on the way to a village (to a self-service shop?) (to the sub-post-office there?) the two persons having met and stopped each other (one asking the…

The Last World Peace

What is a great conflict about? Look tonight long and dead dead silent out among the stars back to this little earth and nothing will stay great. What really stays from afar of our great self-esteem? Nothing in eternity to fight for so it seems and what else is the use of war? myself, once…

Extracts from ‘The Office’

‘I’ve been invited to a conference,’ he told her after they’d sat down to eat. ‘Again?’ she asked. ‘What do you mean — again?’ Her reaction irritated him. ‘I hardly ever get invited to conferences.’ ‘But you’ve just been to one!’ She sounded indignant. ‘All you ever do these days is go to conferences! You’re…

From Writer at his Own Expense to Public Phenomenon

On the Work of J.J. Voskuil It was front-page news on 26 May 1998. ‘J.J. Voskuil wins Libris Prize’ read the headline in the NRC Handelsblad, a much respected Dutch newspaper. The writer J.J. Voskuil had been named as winner of an important literary prize sponsored by a Dutch bookstore chain. A photo shows the…

The Captain of the Butterflies

Cees Nooteboom’s Poetry After the international success in English translation of Cees Nooteboom’s fiction — including Rituals (Rituelen, 1980), In the Dutch Mountains (In Nederland, 1984), A Song of Truth and Semblance (Een lied van schijn en wezen, 1981) and The Following Story (Het volgende verhaal, 1991) and travel writing (Roads to Santiago — De…

Along the River Vecht

Friday. Caught the ten-to-ten train from Muiderpoort station to Abcoude. Took bike. Wonderful deep-blue sky, cloudless. Still quite cool in the morning, later really summery. Went to ‘De Vink’ café. Coffee in the deserted garden. Through the pollard willows on the far bank with their candelabra branches, looked out over the endless, golden meadows dotted…

Snowed-In Poems

The Poetry of Miriam Van hee 1998 was a good year for the Flemish poet Miriam Van hee (1952-). The Flemish Community awarded her the Cultuurprijs for her poetic oeuvre and De Bezige Bij published her collected poems: The Link between the Days. Poems 1978-1996 (Het verband tussen de dagen. Gedichten 1978-1996). Miriam Van hee’s…

A Letter, a Vision and a Poem

Letter 3 God be with you! I entreat you by the veritable virtue and fidelity that God himself is, think continually of that holy virtue which he himself is, and which he was in his way of acting when he lived as Man. 0 sweet love! now we are living as men. Now think of…

Writing for Love’s Sake

The Work of Hadewijch On 17 February 1236, at Cambrai in Northern France, a béguine was burned alive on the orders of the Inquisition. Her execution had been sanctioned by no fewer than five bishops. But an entire regiment was brought in for the occasion, to maintain order and to protect the inquisitor responsible, one…

From ‘Double Play’

A cool breeze suddenly blew over the hills of Wakota and over the valley in which the men sat playing. It made Bubu Fiel even more dreamy, but it gave Janchi Pau a gratifying feeling of peace and clarity. For a moment he forgot Manchi, the conversation, and the whole domino table in fact, and…

We’ve got to start loving this country more

Frank Martinus Arion and Dutch-Caribbean Literature Dutch is not only the language of two European nations on the North Sea; it is also the official language of Surinam, a former Dutch colony located on the northern edge of the South American continent which has been inde­pendent since 1975, as well as of the two Caribbean…

I turn violence into art

The Work of Armando An artist, a writer, is confronted with the duality of imagination and reality. During the period that the Dutchman Armando (1929-) made his debut, fantasy-rich imagination was setting the tone in the visual arts. 1948 had seen the setting up of the CoBrA group (a group of artists from the three…