Ramsey Nasr (1974), elected in January 2009 by the public as Poet Laureate of the Netherlands, will live and work in the Spui apartment during the month of October.
Though we can’t claim that Nasr is a foreign writer, we are more than happy to make an exception for him as the city of Antwerp in Belgium has been his home base for the past few years. His residency in Amsterdam will give him the opportunity to arrange many postponed work meetings. By the end of his stay the public will probably be treated to a poem about a theme of national importance in the daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad.
Nasr is not only a poet but also an author, actor and director. In 2000 he made his poetry debut with the collection 27 gedichten & Geen lied (27 Poems & No Song), which was nominated for both the C. Buddingh’ Prize and the Hugues C. Pernath Prize. A year later came his debut as a prose writer with the novella Kapitein Zeiksnor & De Twee Culturen (Captain Sourpuss & The Two Cultures), followed by Twee libretto’s (Two Libretti) in 2002. He then moved to De Bezige Bij, where he published his second book of poetry, Onhandig bloesemend (awkwardly flowering) in the spring of 2004. This collection, awarded the Hugues C. Pernath Prize, went through several reprints. The latest edition includes a CD of the poet reading his own verse.
Nasr was named city poet of Antwerp in 2005 and quickly won the hearts of the Flemish people. He aimed from the start to write poems of interest not only to the people of Antwerp but to an audience far beyond the boundaries of the city. This broad approach was reiterated in his third collection, Onze-lieve-vrouwe-zeppelin (Our-lady-zeppelin) in 2006, which includes all his Antwerp poems along with detailed commentary and historical photographs of the city. This collection too has been widely praised.
In the many articles and opinion pieces he has written for the Dutch and Flemish media, Nasr reveals himself as a man of many passions. They arise from a love of art - classical music, theatre, poetry - as well as serious engagement with contemporary politics. One issue particularly close to his heart is the conflict between Israel and Palestine. An extensive selection of his articles on art and politics was published in 2006 at the same time as Onze-lieve-vrouwe-zeppelin, under the title Van de vijand en de muzikant (Of the Enemy and the Musician).