Night Train

This then, all told. An alien and threadbare gaze in misted window-pane. That severed head, that Hitler minus the moustache: that’s me? Can ever a fond mother have believed in that conceited stuck-up grouch? My god, where is the pillager who slept with Valkyries, the poet who rode his birds and violins? I am so…

Evening Rain

There was a gentle dripping in the leaves As if the summer rain would now begin. And lazily the twilights glided in Of showers borne menacingly on the breeze. The smell of flowers and dampness merged and then It drifted round the paths like wisps of mist, Through steam the gable’s red was faintly guessed,…

If the Future Is a Traveller on his Way

An Extract from Thomas Rosenboom’s The New Man The first steamship to honour Groningen with a visit was the English seagoing tug Selsey Bill; it entered via Delfzijl and steamed all the way along the narrow Damsterdiep canal to the city, where it was greeted by a cheering crowd. After nine days of accolade, the…

Not a Cheerful Science

The Unrelenting World-Picture of Willem Frederik Hermans I must have been fourteen or fifteen when I informed my mother that I had now read all of juvenile literature. The school library I had exhausted; the bookshelves at home I had already utterly devoured. I had even read my father’s books, admittedly numerous but with only…

The Urge to Cook

With greedy breasts desire stands at the work-top slurps seed out of tomatoes, watches the swelling of batter under its damp cloth. Her hand fondles the sirloin of prime young beef, its searching tongue is made for hers, enraptured she slides its meaty balls into the pan. Passion is a kitchen princess with touchable skin,…

An Extract from ‘Omega Minor’

I repeat. Sometime the moment will come when the importance of even this history crumbles. When this war becomes just as unreal as the First Crusade, as the Hundred Years’ War, as tribal disputes in the fertile prehistoric deltas of the Tigris and Euphrates. Nothing exceptional happened, people will say. A war. Simply a war.…

Authenticity is Fiction

The Emergence of a New Narrative in the Works of Paul Verhaeghen Anyone reading a novel by Paul Verhaeghen (1965-) finds themselves balancing for a while on the boundary between fact and fiction. In his debut novel Lichtenberg (1996) Verhaeghen tells the story of Tom Pepermans, a young researcher who encounters strange figures, hears and…

The Clouds

I still wore boy’s clothes and lay side by side Outstretched with mother in the heath’s warm lair; Above us shifting clouds were drifting by And mother asked me what I saw up there. And I cried: Scandinavia, and: swans, A lady, and: a shepherd with his sheep – The wonders were made word and…

Four Poems

The seed had the colour of old lamp-light The fruit was a yellow-white vapour. On it they performed tasks. There were complications. Man was the intention. At night windows steamed up; during the day it smelled of rubber and Mickey Mouse. In sunny water albumens flaked.   Het zaad had de kleur van oud lamplicht.…

Tear Down This House

The Poetry of Tonnus Oosterhoff Where the origins of modern poetry lie is something that you can philosophise about for a long time, but few would dispute that the compact oeuvre of Stéphane Mallarmé constitutes a benchmark. He was not the first poet to apply himself to writing largely incomprehensible poems, but he attracted more…

An Extract from ‘Young Titans’

III It was a curious time. Come to think of it, that time must still be going on — it goes on as long as there are young men around who are nineteen, twenty years old. But for us it is long gone. We were above the world and the world was above us and…

Mont Ventoux

Writing verse is cycling up Mont Ventoux, where Tommy Simpson met his tragic end, before he ever made the final bend the once world champion collapsed from view. here riders all try shaking off the pack, a category one col, now taboo. it has a pinewood scent, Sunsilk Shampoo, which you could need to use…

Notice to Travellers

They open and close you then they talk like they know you they don’t know you Joni Mitchell Within me there’s a sea and that is me. It’s ten years now since I last saw myself. Each time I journey to me, half-way there I turn around and come back empty-handed. Somebody says it really…

The Frugal Meal

Under the dining-table lamp we eat in silence, our hands toing and froing like white spots; our ringed fingers playing aimlessly with the familiar bread. No joy nothing unusual is there in the sound of our knives and forks. And naturally we know nothing of the happiness of travellers in an evening train.   Het…

Travel Letter

dear friend how splendid things are here the cows in calf call forth a tear the railway track winds through the dale a woman runs the waterfall a meadow rings each house or farm that all beguile with postcard charm folk shuffle past at measured pace and not a step do they retrace it’s said…

Modern Minstrels

City Poets in the Low Countries The number of city poets in the Netherlands and Flanders is steadily increasing. The present figure for the Netherlands is about thirty. In Flanders only five cities so far have named a city poet: Antwerp, Ghent, Ninove in East Flanders, Damme in West Flanders and Diest in Flemish Brabant,…

The Netherlands Gets on its Bike

If you had to take one photo that summed up the Netherlands as the average foreigner sees it, what would it show? Queen Beatrix in clogs, cycling past a row of windmills, with the glassy eyes of dozens of cows staring at her in astonishment – this would probably qualify. It is not very likely…