How Free Is Dutch-Language Poetry?

The word is free. Like Gezelle’s swift it soars through the immeasurable space of the mind, lifted up or blown along by cool or sultry winds from distant parts, by ‘Luft von anderem Planeten’, as Stefan George has it. Nothing and no one can thwart its vitality and urge to freedom, however much social institutions,…

All Said Before

Menno Wigman’s Ennui Innovation is impossible. The Earth revolves around the sun, summer gives way to winter, people are born and try to leave a few copies of their DNA behind before they die, and every generation does its best to put the essence of existence into words as if it hasn’t all been said…

An Explosive Spirit

The Romantic Poetry of a Neo-Dadaist: Hans Verhagen ‘To err is human. In time you learn to appreciate the quality. And if you can’t see it you’re a dickhead’. This pronouncement by the poet Lucebert (1924-1994) gives the briefest possible summary of the history of the critical appreciation of Hans Verhagen (1939) – from disparagement…

Giving Form to the Fleeting

A Response to Leonard Nolens’ Diary Winterswijk, Sunday 29 November 2009 Poetry, love and alcoholism form a fatal triangle. It’s a fact that they are related, but it’s not that easy to pinpoint the source of their affinity or the reason they so often need each other. What does link them at any rate is…

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…

[In spaces spiders creep]

In spaces spiders creep between the pipes. I want to crush the beast that mars me so. Tongue flays itself on quirk of ivory reefs. Brain wrack themselves for source of sustenance. I want to rip the plasters from the drains. The thing that stills me smoulders in the corner. Cheerfully I want to pour…