© Alexandra Cool
BiographyWith her 2006 debut, Er hangt een hoge lucht boven ons (There is a tall sky above us), Els Moors, the first young Flemish poet for a long time, received a warm welcome from both Flemish and Dutch critics. The book was nominated for the C. Buddingh’-prize and was awarded the Herman de Coninck prize for best first poetry collection, with the jury describing the volume as ‘a debut of one’s dreams’. Her successful most recent collection Liederen van een kapseizend paard (Songs of a capsized horse) was nominated for the Herman de Conick prize (2015). The jury for this prize notes about Liederen van een kapseizend paard: ‘With thrilling, sweltering and abrasive language Els Moors tries to get a grip on love, the physicality and complexity of what is closest. […] With these poems Moors proves that she masters the methodology of seduction and rejection. This is an extremely accurate and haunting collection of poems.’
In ‘the water floating by is the water’, loneliness and paranoia rule. The narrator can only look at the – perhaps deceptive – beauty of the façades that float past her. She cannot go behind the house fronts that will both reflect her voice and hide the people nearby her, the people that appear to have conspired to make her lose her sense of direction. In the final poem the protagonist does attain a certain sense of domesticity and happiness. Her homecoming is something of a relief. Yet while the inevitability of the other is confirmed in the final verses, it seems at the same time part of the course that this other will disappear.
These somewhat sadomasochistic poems in a way resemble Expressionist paintings. While they sometimes look quite jumpy, Moors’ work shows evidence of a strong sense of composition, both in content and in form. Note, for example, the continual play between vitality and stasis, horizontality and verticality. The latter is already expressed in the title of the book, in which a ‘tall sky’ – might we interpret this as a deep blue sky, or the column of smoke in the Book of Exodus, or a whirlwind? – hangs threateningly above us. Undoubtedly this strong compositional aspect and the equally strong, provocative nature of her work are partly why these poems have already been deemed classics of the twenty-first century and Moors one of the rising stars of Flemish poetry.
In 2008 Moors made her debut as a prose writer with Het Verlangen naar een eiland (Longing for an island), a novel about love, sex and the yearning for the other.
© Anneleen De Coux (Translated by Willem Groenewegen)
Er hangt een hoge lucht boven ons (There is a tall sky above us), Nieuw Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 2006
Liederen van een kapseizend paard (Songs of a capsized horse), Nieuw Amsterdam/het balanseer, Amsterdam, 2014
Het verlangen naar een eiland (Longing For An Island), Nieuw Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 2008
C. Buddingh’-prize (nomination, 2007)
Herman de Coninck prize (2007)
An interview with Els Moors
Actor Matthias Schoenaerst reading Els Moors' poetry
Nieuw Amsterdam, the publisher of Els Moors
Poems of Els Moors
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère