Eva Gerlach

Eye to Eye to Eye to Eye

Love poems that are both witty and gripping

Where do poems get their power to enchant? We’ve all asked ourselves that at one time or another. The poet Eva Gerlach knows the answer, because her poems have that power. First she enchanted all the grown-ups in the Netherlands with stunningly beautiful, subtle and original poems. Now she has written second volume of poetry for children, entitled Eye to Eye to Eye to Eye. Her book consists of six sections, some of which tell a story in poems, while others explore a particular theme. More so than even in her previous book of poetry for children, Hey Mister Moose, Gerlach shows here what language can do.

In cheeky lines full of unexpected twist and turns she shows what poetry really is, without the children who are reading it being immediately aware of it. They are swept away by things Gerlach comes up with in the various sections: little sisters that fly into the air, strange children who have to wear helmets to keep too much stuff from getting into their heads, foxes in Scotland and menacing characters who want you to give them money, even though you haven’t got any. Anything can happen in these poems. Gerlach can be profound, moving, funny and bizarre, and when she wants, she is all those things at once.

The children in these poems have to relate to their environments (to the annoying little sister for example, who even fits better on dad’s lap) as well as conquering a place for themselves. The latter is not easy. In one poem a child cries out bravely that she belongs here, that she isn’t just any old kid, that she can do all sorts of things, tricks with her toes for a start - but it ends with the lament: “I keep on saying this but it doesn’t make any difference.”

The poems feature not only brave children, but also children in love, troubled children, happy children and angry children. Eva Gerlach knows that it is important to take care in choosing her words, and this is clear from the words that make up these poems. This means that language can trip up the reader: figures of speech are suddenly taken literally, but moments later they are not. It means that enjambments and spaces between lines play an important part in the construction of the poems - in short, it means that Eye to Eye to Eye to Eye is an example of genuine poetry. And all this comes with a sense of humor to boot. Speaking of enchanting… Marjoleine de Vos

The images in these love poems are free of all cliché but are at once crystal clear and


Love is a theme for all poets and readers, but Gerlach manages to give the adult tone in which she celebrates it an inimitable childlike colour.

De Groene Amsterdammer

Again and again Gerlach succeeds in masterly fashion in evoking the inner confict of adolescence. (…) The fact that these poems are both witty and gripping is a great achievement. But the fact that amid so much confusion they remain utterly lucid is sheer


Eva Gerlach

Eva Gerlach (b. 1948) writes both poetry for adults and poetry for children. She published her first collection for adults, Verder geen leed (No Further Distress), in 1979. Her first volume of children’s poetry, Hee meneer Eland (Hey Mr. Moose), was published in 1989 and promptly awarded the…

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Oog in oog in oog in oog (2001). Children's books, 55 pages.

Illustrations by Sieb Posthuma


Querido Kind

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1017 XJ Amsterdam
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