Poetry International Poetry International

Vicky Francken

Vicky Francken

Vicky Francken

(The Netherlands, 1989)
Vicky Francken had been praised as an upcoming talent for years, but ever since her 2017 debut collection Röntgenfotomodel (X-ray model), it’s safe to say Francken is not ‘upcoming’ anymore, simply a talent. She received the C. Buddingh’ debut prize for this work that same year.

Francken studied French and translation studies at Utrecht University, and at age eighteen made her debut in the Hollands Maandblad literary magazine, which earned her the journal’s Writer’s Grant for Poetry. Her poetry was published in De Revisor and Tirade, and in 2019 she wrote the crU Poetry Week gift booklet Blauw is tweekleurig (Blue is bicoloured).

In Röntgenfotomodel, Francken takes the reader along on her investigation into mankind and the language we employ. Her poems often end with some kind of question or statement to which as a reader you hope to find answers, and wish to sink your teeth into. She uses strong images and juxtaposes corporality with the intellectual self. As the jury of the C. Buddingh’ prize wrote in their report: “The poems are not like X-rays at all: the flesh is tangible, the reader can see blood flow and watch the heart beat.” Francken accomplishes this masterfully. Throughout the entire collection, Francken’s great sensitivity to language can be felt, as in the title poem ‘X-ray model’:

Lift your shirt, I want to check
it’s purring under the hood
but turn the light off, your lungs are lovely
in the dark. Listen: that rumble
can be remedied, but isn’t it glorious
to carry the sound of the sea?

It’s not necessary to hear her poetry read out on a stage to experience the rhythm and musicality of it. The lines are razor-sharp and yet, through her use of wordplay, she succeeds in maintaining a certain lightness in her poems. “A leitmotiv [in the work] is a young woman growing and growing up, with all the hesitation and doubt that comes with it,” according to the jury of the C. Buddingh’ prize. But when the collection reaches its decisive conclusion, all doubt vanishes from her poems.

For the collection Röntgenfotomodel, Vicky Francken also received the Jo Peters Prize for Poetry.
© Sebastiaan van der Lubbe (Translated by Fleur Jeras)


Röntgenfotomodel, De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2017
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Lira fonds
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère