‘As I do’
Anneke Brassinga is the language wizard of Dutch poetry. Perhaps the special feeling for language that she possesses has something to do with her work as a translator. Whatever the case, you are certain to find words and expressions in her work that you will encounter nowhere else.
Her collected works, Passwords (2005), looks like something of a sanctuary for threatened word species. In it you will find words like ‘nornenkot’ (Norns’ hovel) and ‘dropknotsen’ (liquorice lollies) or ‘het wijdbeense zwerk’ (the straddle-legged welkin). This might induce you to believe that a completely different world appears in her work from the everyday, accessible one. In one of her poems she described the occupation of the poet as follows: ‘the word-poacher goes to inspect his snares’.
This, however, is no mere rhetoric, no word-play on the play itself, and although Brassinga would also really seem to be in search of forgotten roots of the language, there is more involved; her abundance of language is placed at the service of a sensation that could almost be called mystical. It sometimes seems as if the poet in her work steps outside herself; for her, language is not just a means of communication but also a way of becoming ecstatic.
At the same time, you feel that via her baroque use of language in which intense experiences of love, despair, doubt play a role – something is at stake: could it be primeval forces? All-in all, Brassinga’s work – from her debut Aurora (1987) up to and including her collection The Mutual (2014) – leaves an incomparable and very particular impression on her readers.