Arjen Duinker

I found the world irrefutable

The eyes of Arjen Duinker have really seen a lot of the world, as he is one of the most well travelled poets from Holland, having performed at festivals all over the globe. Still these eyes refuse to focus on anything other than what is right in front of them: exactly what is right in front of them.

From the very beginning, Duinker’s poetry has always been about the reality of flowers, stones, mountains, rain, wind, ivy, rivers, the reality of things as separate self-contained entities. That is: all these things as they exist without the interposition of human, all-too-human thought, without the interposition of the abstractions that rear their heads as soon as a human opens his mouth. In his second collection, Loose Poems (1990), we read:

‘If you give me abstractions,
I’ll give you
a fan of wood’


‘Nothing is more foreign to me than belief,
Nothing is more foreign to me than emotional connection through thought.’

What he wants is that:

‘of things
the very things become visible.’

In his collections to date he has consistently tried to shed his own personality, essence and baggage in order to smuggle into his poems the things he experiences without thinking: the effortlessness, the self-evidence of things like flowers and stones. In every poem it’s as if the poet is, to quote from ‘The Dreaming Hour’: ‘body-searched by uninterpreted nonhuman reality’.

The poems come right up to the reader, go through his pockets, check the seams and hems of his personality, his essence, his baggage, amiably but determinedly shaking him down.

Duinker is celebrating the feast of the pleasant meaninglessness, with intelligent poetry in stead of slogans.

Herman de Coninck

Duinker’s multi-coloured, inquisitive poetry is infectiously happy. ‘Happiness also exists without a definite article’, he says. ‘The rest is superstition, aimed at fools, / As talk of the importance of taste / Is a matter of false civilization.’ In other words, if you’re unable to love these poems, you’re a sourpuss.

de Volkskrant


After my encounter with the arms dealer
I wandered into a bar to tell about it.

I said I found the world irrefutable,
To this day a ground truth.

I also said the arms dealer’s parrot kept quiet,
I couldn’t have spoken more truthfully.

And I said his ambition made him sweat,
A truth with echoes of coincidence.

And I told him about the price of arms,
Truth that pours pain on every encounter.

(Translation by Ina Rilke)

Arjen Duinker

Arjen Duinker (1956) studied psychology and philosophy. He has published one novel, Het moeras (The Morass, 1992), and eleven volumes of poetry. He made his debut as a poet in 1988 with the volume Rode oever (Red Shore). This was followed by such volumes as Losse gedichten (Loose Poems, 1990), De

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I found the world irrefutable (2016). Poëzie.


11 Poets from Holland



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