Lucebert: As a Poet a Visionary, as a Painter an Eye-Witness

The poet and painter Lucebert (ps. of Lubertus Jacobus Swaanswijk, 1924-1994) has an uncontested place in Dutch literature as the ‘Emperor’ of the new post-war poets. Since the day in 1953 when he actually dressed up in Emperor’s robes to receive the poetry prize from the city of his birth, Amsterdam, his poems have not…

Poets Pick Things Up all over the World

The Poetry of Luuk Gruwez In an essay written in 1980 the Flemish poet Luuk Gruwez (1953-) drew a distinction between poets whom he likened to piano-tuners, and other poets whom he described as singers. The latter group, in which he included himself, ‘emerge from their poems as people of flesh and blood, not as…

‘An order, within which there’s room for chaos’

The Poetry of M. Vasalis ‘Do not be misled by what you see on the surface; deep down everything has a meaning.’ Rainer Maria Rilke The poetic oeuvre of M. Vasalis (1909-) is admittedly modest in size (only around 100 poems in total, spread over three collections), but her poetry has nonetheless acquired a position…

Death in a Cathedral

A Dog of Flanders How many literature-lovers still remember the oeuvre of Marie Louise de la Ramée? Yet, writing under the pseudonym ‘Ouida’, this author created an English-language novel which recounts what without exaggeration can be hailed as the best-known story about Flanders and the Flemings. A Dog of Flanders was published in 1872 and…

The Low Countries on the Road

Travel Writing in Flanders and the Netherlands ‘Travel is my private form of reflection’, the author Cees Nooteboom once said. You are transported, carried along, and that gives you time in which to look around. And if you look carefully, you start thinking. Travel sharpens your gaze’. This pioneer of Dutch travel writing breathed new…

Leonard Nolens,  Winner of the Dutch Literature Prize

The Dutch Literature Prize, the most important literary award in the Dutch language area, was presented to the Antwerp poet Leonard Nolens (b. 1947) by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands at the end of 2012. Since his debut with Orpheushanden (Orpheus hands, 1969), Nolens has published more than twenty poetry collections and five diaries. The…

The Making of a Translator

There was a framed Dutch proverb hanging on the wall in my parents’ house. Embroidered in gold on black satin, it read: ‘Gezelligheid kent geen tijd’ – ‘Time flies when you’re having fun’. It was a gift from the Netherlands, from when my father’s brother had studied classical languages at Utrecht University in the 1950s.…

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…