The poetry of Anne Vegter

With her turbulent style and extraordinary themes, Anne Vegter is one of the most prominent poets in present-day Dutch literature.

Anne Vegter

Her inimitable language and the peculiar conceptual acrobatics were the striking features of her first two collections It Sprang (1991) and Shares and Obligations (2002).

She once remarked in an interview: ‘I often find normal means of expression hopelessly exaggerated.’ In her case, her lyrical ego may leap from a stairway while observing, en passant, that a calendar is hanging askew. Elsewhere, someone is listening to Bach with a frown on the back of his head.

In her third collection, Spamfighter (2008), her work became more serious and sedate, despite the ongoing turbulence in the language and the abundance of fantasy. Her unique mixture of a keyed-up overtone and a melancholy and fragile undertone is perfectly expressed in a line such as: ‘A ray of sunshine festively penetrates the windows of the clinic.’ Particularly her collection Island Mountain Glacier (2011) contains tributes and litanies to life and love. The capricious and rich joie de vivre that transcends the shadow side of domestic situations is assigned a darker hue, like a face that is enhanced by creases: ‘Your age scrubs your family coat’. Her apparent spontaneity in ‘showing and tripping’ – as her poems might sometimes be characterized – leans heavily on stringent selection: only the appropriate moment and the right words are allowed to participate in the performance.

Public appreciation of her work is increasing over the years, which has provisionally culminated in her appointment as Poet Laureate for the Netherlands, the most public function that a poet in the Netherlands can fulfil.

Anne Vegter’s poetry has often been called surrealistic and dreamlike, and disturbing in equal measure.

Jan Baeke

Vegter writes daring, personal poetry that sometimes teases language to the limit. One time her poems may consist of complex chess configurations, whereas at other times the poet can be trite, incoherent or even vulgar. It all contributes to the stimulating, grating feeling that someone is getting too close to you.

Ron Rijghard
Anne Vegter
Anne Vegter (b. 1958) is a very versatile poet and writer. In 1989 she made her debut with the children’s book 'The Lady and the Rhinoceros', which was promptly awarded the Woutertje Pieterse Prize, an important prize for new Dutch literature for children.
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