P.C. Hooft Prize to poet Alfred Schaffer

16 December 2020

Alfred Schaffer (b. 1973) has been awarded the P.C. Hooft Prize, one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the Netherlands. He is the first laureate of this poetry oeuvre award to have debuted in the 21st century. This year his twelfth volume of poetry, Wie was ik, strafregels was published at The Busy Bee. So far, his work has been translated into Afrikaans, English, French, German, Macedonian, Turkish, Indonesian and Swedish.

“At first sight Schaffer’s poems can be read as random passages from an endless stream of observations - but that arbitrariness is deceptive. His poetry encompasses very precisely chosen snapshots, its sentences suggest a scalpel may have been used to shape them.”

Schaffer’s poetry invites endless rereading, according to the jury, that also praised his ability as a poet to be at the heart of society without yielding to fleeting trends: ‘This is reflected in his susceptibility for modern forms of communication, but especially in the sincere involvement with the world that is expressed in his verses. Schaffer’s poetry can never be separated from the context of South Africa, the country where he has been living since 1996, with a break of several years. In his poems, the relations between white and black resonate regularly, also because of the personal background of the poet, who has an Aruban mother.’

P.C. Hooft Prize

The P.C. Hooft Prize is awarded annually, alternatively for fiction, essayistic prose, or poetry, and comes with a sum of € 60,000. Previous poetry laureates include Nachoem Wijnberg (2018), Anneke Brassinga (2015), Tonnus Oosterhof (2012) and Hans Verhagen (2009). The award ceremony for Alfred Schaffer will take place in May 2021, whether this will be a live or online event depends on the then current (Covid-19) circumstances.

For more information about Alfred Schaffer’s work, you may contact our poetry specialist Victor Schiferli.