Kees Ouwens

Kees Ouwens (1944-2004) is one of the most important and distinctive Dutch poets from the second half of the 20th century. No biography of him exists, and we don’t know much about his life. Ouwens grew up in Zeist and spent much of his life in relative seclusion in a suburb of Utrecht. When he died in 2004 after a long illness, he left a unique body of work behind: after making a double debut as both a poet and a novelist in 1968, he wrote a total of nine volumes of poetry and four works of prose.

De poëzie van Kees Ouwens

De poëzie van Kees Ouwens

(Meulenhoff Boekerij, )

At the time of Ouwens’s debut, Arcadia (1968), his poetry was neoromantic in tone. Using simple language, it revealed a sardonic young man – obsessed with his body and having almost completely shrugged off his Catholicism – wandering around in the vicinity of his childhood home in search of meaning. But in the collections that followed, his language became increasingly complex, his idiom increasingly rich and distinct, until ultimately he emerged as a fully-fledged experimental poet.

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