Poetry International Poetry International

Stefan Hertmans

Stefan Hertmans

Stefan Hertmans

(Belgium, 1951)

Stefan Hertmans is considered one of today’s leading Dutch-language writers. He has published novels, collections of short stories, essays on literature and philosophy, and theatre texts in addition to his poetry. His most recent novel Oorlog en terpentijn (War and Turpentine, 2013) marked his breakthrough to a larger general audience,and saw its English translation long listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2017. In 2016, he was invited to write the annual Poëziegeschenk (Poetry gift), a collection of poems distributed free during Dutch-language Poetry Week. For this occasion his publisher De Bezige Bij also published an anthology of his poems Een beeld van jou, a selection of poems about love selected by Hertmans. This collection reveals an erudite, yet sensitive poet who can express the various aspects of love in a moving way. His work has been widely translated and published, including in English, French, German and Spanish. Previously, Hertmans served as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent.

The poet has been awarded several major literary prizes, including the Flemish Culture Prize for Poetry for Muziek voor de overtocht (Music for the crossing, 1994), a collection of five long poems on Paul Hindemith, Paul Valéry, Paul Cézanne, Vaslav Nijinsky and Wallace Stevens. The same collection was nominated for the VSB Poetry Prize. The collection Goya als hond (Goya as a dog, 1999) was acclaimed as a major achievement, both in his body of work and for contemporary Dutch and Flemish poetry. In 2006, Hertmans published Muziek voor de overtocht. Gedichten 1975-2005 (Music for the crossing. Poems 1975-2005), a revised edition of all his poetry volumes. It contains unpublished early works, the modernist collections Ademzuil (1984) and Melksteen (1986), elegies, visitations, imprecations, annunciations, 'cinnamon fingers' and all kinds of projects in collaboration with other poets and artists. This thick book is a must for all lovers of poetry.

2010 saw the publication of De val van vrije dagen (The lure of idle days), which was nominated for the Herman De Coninck Prize. In this collection, as in the rest of his oeuvre, Hertmans’ poetry shows itself filled with incomparable significance. It is ‘and/and-poetry’; it is both dream and eye-opening reality; it is longing and forgetting; it is loss and gain; it is singing and speaking and keeping silent at the same time. With De val van vrije dagen, Hertmans adds a remarkable building block to his voluminous output. Rereading his collected poems from the point of view of this volume is extremely attractive: new aspects of earlier poems and cycles arise, as the lure of idle days confronts us with ‘laws without law’, ‘a fragment of voices in the mist, / and everything open again’.

© Tom Van de Voorde and Patrick Peeters


Muziek voor de overtocht (Music for the Crossing), Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 1994
Francesco’s paradox, Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 1995
Annunciaties (Annunciations), Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 1997
Goya als hond (Goya as a dog), Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 1999
Kaneelvingers (Cinnamon Fingers), Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 2005
Muziek voor de overtocht. Gedichten 1975-2005 (Music for the crossing. Poems 1975-2005), De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2006
De val van vrije dagen (The Lure of Idle Days), De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2010
Neem en lees, Stichting Collectieve Propaganda van het Nederlandse Boek, Amsterdam, 2016
Een beeld van jou: gedichten over de liefde. De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2016
Krajobraz wedlug Carpaccia. Pools. Marginesy, Warszawa, 2016

Poetry in translation
Selection of poems in English, Modern Poetry in Translation, 1997
Francesco’s paradox. English. Limelight, Kortrijk, 1999
Scardanelli. Gedichte. German. Athena, Oberhausen, 2001
Goya como perro. Spanish. Het beschrijf, Brussel, 2001
Antología de poemas. Spanish. Calima Ediciones, Palma de Mallorca, 2002
Selected poems. Georgian. Link, Tbilisi, 2003
Le Paradoxe de Francesco. Poèmes. French. Le Castor Astral, Paris-Bordeaux, 2004
Selection of poems in German, Keine triste Isolde, Gegenwartslyrik aus Flandern und den Niederlanden, Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen, 2007
Selection of poems in German, Park. Zeitschrift für neue Literatur, Berlin, 2010
‘Tervaete’. English. Modern poetry in translation, 2014
Fuegos artificiales, dijo ella. Poemas. Spanish. Festival Internacional de Poesía de Córdoba, Córdoba, 2014

Literary prizes
Arkprijs van het Vrije Woord (1988)
Interprovincial Prize for Literature (1989)
Prize of the Flemish Guide (1992)
Flemish Culture Prize for Poetry (1995)
Paul Snoek Prize (1996)
Maurice Gilliams Prize (2002) 

The poet’s home page (in Dutch, English, French and Spanish). 
Hertmans’ work is published by De Bezige Bij (in Dutch).
Hertmans on Lyrikline.

Last updated 19 January 2016.

Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Prins Bernhard cultuurfonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Gefinancierd door de Europese Unie
Elise Mathilde Fonds
Stichting Verzameling van Wijngaarden-Boot
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère