A Gaze Trained on the Horizon

Children’s Books in the Low Countries A country by the sea is boundless, or perhaps it would be better to say, it seems boundless. The open water with the distant, intangible horizon urges exploration and adventure, but close by the undulating power of the salt sea and the constant wind cause continual commotion. Inevitably this…

Two Poems

Four Ways of Waiting for Someone 1 Sitting. Thinking of lying. Hands smoothing the tablecloth around a dish that’s difficult and much too much for two and not like the picture, but smells fantastic, out through the windows, doing its best not to collapse, like a sucked-in tummy trying not to bulge – inversion too…

Oddball Amazement and Restless Waywardness

The Polymorphous Work of Joke Van Leeuwen Joke van Leeuwen’s airy, apparently casual manner of bending language to her will is quite unparalleled. Time and again she comes up with new free forms, cast in a mildly absurd style, cleverly starting the reader or spectator off on the wrong foot and creating wilful characters who watch the…

Plaza

Not a breath of wind. Yet a man held on tight to a woman, a woman to a child. Little legs moved of themselves. Above on a string a balloon like a fish. Above that the sun, blazing. The child had let go of the fish. Watched it rising, waved it goodbye. What – what’s…

Joke van Leeuwen’s Light-Hearted Anarchy

For years now Joke van Leeuwen has occupied a special position in the Dutch cultural landscape. With such a versatile talent as hers this is hardly surprising. Central to all her work, whether in her early career in cabaret or her poetry readings today, her poetry for adults and for children, or more particularly her…

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,…