Gerrit Kouwenaar

Gerrit Kouwenaar (1923 - 2014) was first published in clandestine publications during World War Two. After the war he earned a living as a translator (a.o. Sartre, Dürrenmatt and Brecht) and journalist. Together with a.o. Lucebert and Hugo Claus he was a leading member of the 50s Movement and edited the influential anthology Vijf 5tigers. His work has been collected in Gedichten 1948-1978 (1978) and in the new volume helder maar grijzer: gedichten 1978-1996 (Clear but Greyer, 1998). His latest two volumes een geur van verbrande veren (a smell of burnt feathers, 1991) and de tijd staat open (time is wide open, 1996) have won his universal critical acclaim as well as the important VSB Poetry Prize. This autumn sees the publication of his new collection een glas om te breken (a glass to break). His poetry and translations have won numerous important prizes, including the prestigious Dutch Literature Prize (Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren, 1989).

The Poetry of Gerrit Kouwenaar

(Querido, )

In retrospect, Gerrit Kouwenaar turned out to be the 50s Movement’s most influential poet. His poetry won many literary prizes (including the P.C. Hooft Prize in 1970), but was initially only deeply admired by a small group of connoisseurs. Despite this, his reputation grew and by the eighties he was generally seen as the godfather of autonomist or hermetic poetry, the phrase the Kouwenaar School was often used. The poetry of important poets like Hans Faverey, H.C. ten Berge and, later, J. Bernlef is scarcely imaginable without the antecedent of Kouwenaar.

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