March 3, 2014

Leo Vroman, artist, poet, scientist, dies at age 98

Filed under: Art,Literature,Science by Branko Collin @ 2:58 pm

leo-vroman-self-portraitTwo weeks ago Dutch-American poet, artist and scientist Leo Vroman died at his home in Fort Worth, Texas, reports.

Although Vroman emigrated to the US after WWII, he wrote poetry in Dutch until the very end. Somebody posted the following poem called Einde (‘The End’) to his blog after his death, a poem he wrote on 10 February (translation by me):

It probably looks less,
this lovingly gathered
pile of chips from my thoughts,
like me than like a mountain.

What then will this raging* figure
of me consist of
and where did this already late
first spark come from?

Holly Moors reviews Vroman’s book Leo Vroman Tekenaar which explores the many forms his art took. As a biologist Vroman studied the way blood works (the Vroman Effect was named after him, as Elsevier points out in its eulogy). writes that in 2010 Vroman wrote his own ‘in memoriam’ for the magazine Tirade: “Will we miss him? Not easily. His books will still be lurking everywhere and his Effect is lasting.” The news site points out that in the Netherlands Vroman was best known for his poem ‘Vrede’ (‘Peace’). He won numerous literary awards (and one science award), and was named honorary citizen of Gouda in 1990.

*) Or furious, burning, blazing: the Dutch word ‘laaiende’ is often used to denote anger, but when talking about a fire it means ‘blazing’.

(Illustration: Leo Vroman, self-portrait)

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July 12, 2009

Writer Simon Vinkenoog dies age 80

Filed under: Literature by Branko Collin @ 11:17 am

A week before his 81st birthday, writer Simon Vinkenoog died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Amsterdam last night. Vinkenoog was a poet, a writer of novels, and a strong proponent of the legalization of soft drugs. In 2004, when poet laureate Gerrit Komrij prematurely handed in his resignation, Vinkenoog was elected to serve the interim, until Driek van Wissen could take over.

Here is my pathetic attempt at translating one of the poems Vinkenoog wrote while in office:


Pamphlet or quick prayer,*
love poem or protest song,
provided it is experienced,
grows wings, becomes redemption.

Once doom makes room
— for courage,
everything you do
becomes a living greeting:

“All that moves
will stay in motion
Make or break
— there is no choice

Nothing remains,
everything will disappear
your life a fireworks
or not.”

*) Note from the translator: what, no word for schietgebed (emergency prayer) in the English language?!

(Photo: Martijn S., some rights reserved, photo ‘shopped by me.)

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