Anne Vegter at the Poetry International Festival 2000
Anne Vegter has trained herself in many genres. She made her début as a writer of children’s books, of which she wrote two. She then published a volume of poetry, a collection of pornographic stories, and a book of prose miniatures, illustrated, like her two children’s books, by Geerten Ten Bosch.
Anne Vegter’s childrens books already revealed her poetic talent. The books display her pleasure in making absurd situations arise from language. Bizarre logic, double meanings and fanciful associations give rise to stories in which someone mistakes himself for a chicken, peddles his freshly pulled faces in the street and has a tussock for a friend.
Vegter looks at the world with a mixture of wonder and detachment, or, as she puts it in one of her poems, ‘with a frown in the back of my head’. In her poetry she turns everyday activities –going shopping, moving temporarily into someone else’s house, being pregnant, raising children – into hilarious events. ‘A brain, I thought of the cauliflower. / In half? asked the greengrocer. / And outside with the, in my eyes, miracle in a bag, I knew / no longer where I was or where I lived.’ There is an unmistakable note of bewilderment in Vegter’s bizarre experiences. Guus Middag describes her verse as the ‘carefree poetry of someone who does not quite know what’s happening to her.’ In one poem she lets a woman tumble down a flight of stairs and in falling catch a glimpse of a birthday calendar ‘that I feel should be somewhere where one can see it. / Lest I forget someone.’
Vegter’s absurdism thrives on the terseness of her writing, a peculiar, strictly individual way of summarizing, leaving out or indicating with ‘etc.’ what may be taken for granted. She once said that she strives to avoid descriptions. ‘I prefer to work with the pillars of an idea, hoping that the reader will still be able to sense the longing and the fire that live underneath.’ It is precisely the terseness, the clash of registers, that lend an erotic edge to her language. Her poetry and her prose are seductive in the way Roland Barthes had in mind when he wrote his Pleasure of the Text.
[Anne Vegter took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2000. This text was written on that occasion.]
De dame en de neushoorn (1989), Verse bekken! (1991) (children's books), Het veerde (1992) (poems), Ongekuiste versies (1994), Harries hoofdingang (1999) (stories).