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Poet

Babs Gons

Babs Gons

Babs Gons

(The Netherlands, 1971)
Biography
Babs Gons is a writer, spoken word artist, theatre maker, organiser, and teacher. She regularly performs at festivals and literary events both in the Netherlands and abroad, including South Africa, Sudan, Curaçao, and Brazil. Gons is the editor of Hardop (Out Loud, 2019), an anthology highlighting the work of eighteen spokenword poets. She is also the recipient of several awards, including the 2018 Black Achievement Award for Arts and Culture and the 2019 International Slam-O-Vision Contest Title with her poem ‘Assman vs. People Woman.’
In 2017, Gons published her debut, Hoe kan het toch? (How Can it Be?), a collection of poetry exploring various forms of love, her unyielding love for her son, the ecstasy of falling in love and the pain of falling out of it, the complexity of loving your family. In the captivating ‘You can be everywhere, you can be everything,’ Gons contemplates an absent father: ‘We who grow up without our own fathers / have already had our hearts broken long before our first love.’

In ‘Last Poem for J.G.’ the poet invokes love she once had for her ex, acknowledging that behind the arguments and grief, memories of their old intimacy remain: ‘I loved to see you cook / in the way too small kitchen / where we had to touch each other to add the chickpeas / to the spinach.’ The relationship is over for good, but Gons is determined to build it a literary monument.

If love is the monument, intersectional feminism forms the foundation of Gons’ poems. In an ode to the writer Toni Morrison, Gons unearths the pain of slavery ‘even if no one wants to hear about it.’ In ‘One More Someone,’ Gons artfully exposes her exhaustion at being othered whenever she enters a public space, challenging the reader to examine oppression at the intersections of gender and race.

Long considered the Queen of Dutch-language spoken word, the power of Babs Gons’ live performance transfers seamlessly to the page, expanding the platform for her epic explorations of love and identity.

In 2021, her new poetry collection Doe Het Toch Maar (Do It Anyway) was published and received excellent reviews.
© Jan-Willem Anker (Translated by Sarah Timmer Harvey), New Dutch Poets 2020
Hoe kan het toch? (How Can it Be?), 2017
Hardop (Out Loud, ed.), Atlas Contact, 2019
Doe Het Toch Maar (Do It Anyway), Atlas Contact, 2021
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère