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Arjen Duinker
About Arjen Duinker

June 1, 2009
Since 1988, the year of his debut collection Rode oever, Arjen Duinker (Delft, 1956) has written poetry that displays unbridled energy and vitality, and a passionate sense of wonder at the profusion of our world, the presence of humans and animals and objects which, in their mysterious multiplicity, he extols and explores. The universe that Duinker proffers his readers is a great, pulsating, organic funfair, one which the poet perhaps does not understand all that much, but which nevertheless can be of such dazzling beauty that he can do nothing but praise it in imploring lines and musical poetry.

The things of which the world consists play an important role in Duinker’s poetry, and do so as such – in their concrete-abstract appearance as ‘things’. The poet observes them, sniffs at them from all angles with great pleasure, and even addresses them if required. On the other hand, ‘things’ in Duinker’s poetry can also seize control themselves and take not the slightest notice of human action. In the poem ‘Ruwe schets’ (Rough sketch), for example, which appeared in the collection Ook al is het niet zo (Even If It isn’t So; 1998), there is an abundance of ‘things’ which, from the very first line, put our senses to the test: “The things I felt/ Or thought I felt,/ The things I knew/ Or thought I knew.” But by the end the roles are reversed, with the things themselves taking charge: “The things that looked me in the eye/ Or thought they looked me in the eye.”

From the above quotation it is already fairly obvious that much of this poetry consists of short, powerful lines which Duinker sometimes punctuates with question or exclamation marks, according to whether the poet is in jubilant or desperate mood. In addition, Duinker’s texts regularly employ repetitions and lists. The latter device in particular Duinker would have seemed to have made so much his own – as is already apparent from the title of the collection De geschiedenis van een opsomming (The History of an Enumeration; 2000) – that there is probably no longer any Dutch poet who does not briefly think of Arjen Duinker before using a list in his or her poem.

Jan-Willem Anker (Translated by John Irons)

[Arjen Duinker is to appear at the 2009 Poetry International Festival. This text has been written for that occasion.]
Nato a Delft nel 1956 Arjen Duinker ha studiato psicologia e filosofia. Ha pubblicato un romanzo ed otto volumi di poesie nei Paesi Bassi tutti con Meulenhoff Publishers. Lavora insieme al soffiatore di vetro Bernard Heesen ed al graphic designer Désirée Achterkamp, al dizionario enciclopedico "The World of the Glassblower". Collabora inoltre con il poeta Cinese Yang Lian.a Suoi libri sono apparsi in Francia, Portogallo, Italia, Iran, Russia e Regno Unito, e sono in preparazione in Cina,...