August 29, 2013

Ties Leenstra is the new children’s poet laureate of Groningen

Filed under: Literature by Branko Collin @ 5:00 am

The city of Groningen elected 11-year-old Ties Leenstra as its new children’s poet laureate last Saturday, Po√ęziepaleis reports.

No examples of young master Leenstra’s poetry are given, but apparently his points of view are surprising and his words expressive. Leenstra, who recited his entries from memory, follows in the footsteps of Groningen’s first children’s poet laureate, 12-year-old Sifra Kramer who was also a member of the jury. Asked if he wants to be an important poet when he grows up, Leenstra answered: “No, I’d rather do something else.” Leenstra’s duties involve writing four poems a year.

Kramer’s poems can be read here.

The national young poet laureate Joanne Hoekstra from Augsbuurt in Friesland was elected earlier this year on 2 June.

(Photo by Enric Martinez, some rights reserved)

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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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