September 8, 2018

Dutch and Flemish poetry now all in one database

Filed under: Literature by Orangemaster @ 1:56 pm


On the website run by Utrecht University, Dutch-language specialist Kila van der Starre has been attempting to inventory all public poetry in the Netherlands and Flanders for a year and a half now, and is already headed towards 2000 entries from 957 different poets.

The fun part is, everybody can participate by adding their findings in a database that is searchable by title and author. The author with the most entries so far is Ida Gerhardt with 35 poems.

Great stuff for anyone into Dutch-language poetry, as I’m assuming they’re only noting those ones – and rightly so. There are surely poems in other languages and dialects throughout the country.

(Link:, via, (Illustration: Dutch-American poet, artist and scientist Leo Vroman by Leo Vroman, self-portrait)

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August 28, 2018

Policeman found guilty of hurtful poetry

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 3:56 pm

Never mind kruidnoten already being stocked in a Dutch shop this summer, today the court in Limburg ruled that a policeman has been found guilty of neglect of duty by way of tasteless Sinterklaas poetry.

Usually for Sinterklaas when people give gifts to each other, they also write funny poems about its recipient. However, one man thought it would be laugh to write a hurtful poem about a female colleague, making fun of her failed relationship [they were going to marry, but that didn’t go through] with another colleague.

And it gets worse: he decided to read the poem out loud in front of 140 colleagues dressed as Sinterklaas. The end of the poem basically says ‘now you’re stuck celebrating Christmas on your own’, and then he sang a song about being lonely at Christmas.

The court said this showed zero respect for the female colleague, and has now had 16 hours of ‘furlough’ revoked, which by the way is from the Dutch ‘verlof’, basically meaning time off.

Even if the man disliked the woman and/or the other colleague involved – we don’t know – I don’t understand why he thought this form of humiliation was in any way funny or appropriate.

(Link:, Photo by Facemepls, some rights reserved)

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November 1, 2017

Utrecht, first Dutch Unesco City of Literature

Filed under: Dutch first,Literature by Orangemaster @ 10:18 am


Yesterday, Utrecht was named Unesco City of Literature by the cultural branch of the United Nations in Paris, and has the honour of being the first ever Dutch city to receive this title.

Utrecht, along with many other cities around the world, is being praised for its impressive literature history, as well as its literature festivals, writers, bookshops, libraries, studies and publishers. As well, the wonderful title can be used until the end of time, which is great for city marketing.

As of 2019, the former post office on De Neude will also be the face of the new City of Literature, a ‘cathedral’, for books and a meeting place for all things literary. “The Netherlands is a small language area and it’s not easy to get international recognition for our authors”, explains MichaĆ«l Stoker, director of Utrecht’s Het Literatuurhuis (Literature House). Stocker says this title will break the ice, so that worldwide people will be able to see that the Dutch have good writers and poets.


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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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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, PoĆ«ziepaleis 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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