K. Michel

The first sentence began with I want

K. Michel is able to view the world and life from an unforced, but far from naive, point of view. This ‘open’ and often surprising look produces poems in which unusual connections are made – for example between the coming into existence of the earth and human sleep convulsions – or in which he muses on such things as:

Complex processes: when I go barefoot
over the tiles towards the balcony,
my nose begins to sneeze

In clear, transparent language he dishes up for the reader a world he was unprepared for – one in which language begins with ‘Ouch’ or in which the Hofvijver palace lake in the Hague stands on end and its fish gaze out over the city.

Here and there, his poems are like skipping songs, compilations of what at first sight appear to be dissimilar things, out of which he seems to express a wonderful kind of randomness. All in all, his work is wise and playful, but above all light in tone. Even existential problems are not given a place in the lecture room but in the playroom. About the feeling of freedom, for example, he writes:

‘oho you cry
that’s not for you to dictate
that has to be my choice
otherwise it doesn’t count
fine you say
decide for yourself then.’

Recognisable and strange, everyday and unexpected, in K. Michel’s poems the reader never quite knows what to expect. His exuberant use of language and choice of subjects make him one of the most interesting poets around at present.

A poet with a very keen eye for the absurd, and for the perversions in human existence.

NRC Handelsblad

This is the kind of poetry that can keep you busy for a long, long time. Probably for at least a lifetime.


He doesn’t hide away in irony but dares to get personal, without turning too particular or sentimental. He’s a dreamer with both his feet firmly to the ground.

Het Parool


Ouch of course comes first
closely followed by mmm
then yes then no watch out where
there bah brr again

the first sentence began with I want
the second asked ape gapes we don’t
and the third lied we do

Now tens of thousands of years later
we’re finally able to say
garden furniture cushion storage bag
fluctuating interest rate

and the world has changed
from a running buffet
into a crackling market place

but above the chinking
there is still that tearing sound

(Translation by Paul Vincent)

K. Michel

K. Michel (b.1958) can hardly be said to be a prolific writer. Since his debut in 1989, Yes! Bare as the Stones, only five new collections of poems have appeared, along with two books of short stories and a collection of essays. Nevertheless, his work has attracted attention from the very outset;…

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The first sentence began with I want (2016). Kinder- en jeugdboeken.


11 Poets from Holland


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