The Poetry of Arjen Duinker
The feast of the pleasant meaninglessness
From his first volume of poetry on, many of Arjen Duinker’s poems have been focused on the reality of things as separate self-contained entities. That is: things as they exist without the interposition of human, all-too-human thought, without the interposition of the abstractions that rear their heads as soon as a human opens his mouth.
In his second volume we can read:
‘If you give me abstractions,
I’ll give you a fan of wood’
‘Nothing is more foreign to me than belief,
Nothing is more foreign to me than emotional connection
What he wants is that:
the very things become visible.’
In his collections to date he has consistently tried to shed his own personality, essence and baggage in order to smuggle into his poems the things he experiences without thinking: the effortlessness, the self-evidence of things like flowers and stones. In every poem it’s as if the poet is, to quote from Het uur van de droom (The Dreaming Hour), ‘body-searched’ by uninterpreted nonhuman reality. ‘Things’ go through his pockets, his clothes, his head, his whole personality for that human, all-too-human quality that ensures that people always perceive themselves facing reality. In the long poem ‘The Hours’ a square
‘Lets me linger in the shadow
of every possibility.
Comes over to me
And searches me
And starts to laugh.’
The laughter of reality itself is often heard in his poetry. This laughter ensures that the stone that cannot blossom blossoms, that the permanent abstraction of language becomes wooden fans in Duinker’s hands, and that readers immediately hear reality itself speaking in a line like: ‘I’m silent about reality.’ The poet calls out: ‘Come, things that stay and laugh, notice me!’ This request, this longing to be a part of an undivided reality, a reality experienced not with the mind but with all the senses, leads to poetry that comes in search of the reader’s own all-toohuman qualities. The poems come right up to the reader, go through his pockets, check the seams and hems of his personality, his essence, his baggage, amiably but determinedly shaking him down.