Tsead Bruinja at the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2005



Tsead Bruinja (1974) studied English at the University of Groningen. Bruinja is a bilingual poet: he made his debut in 2000 with the Frisian collection De wizers yn it read (The meters in the red), since when he has published three Frisian and two Dutch collections of poetry. The titles of the two latest are Dat het zo hoorde (The way it should be, 2003), which was nominated for the Jo Peterspoëzieprijs, and Batterij (Battery, 2004). In addition, he has also compiled a number of anthologies. In 2004, together with his colleague Hein Jaap Hilarides, he published the bilingual collection Dream yn blauwe reinjas/Droom in blauwe regenjas (Dream in a Blue Raincoat), which contains a selection from the work of new Frisian poets.

Bruinja has built up a reputation as a performer. He often appears with musicians, such as Jaap van Keulen (a flamenco guitarist) or Michiel Rasker (trance/hip hop/sound scapes) in order to bring out with maximum effect the power of his work. As a member of the musical-literary group Gewassen he received a Hendrik de Vries grant in 2002 from the municipality of Groningen.

In his debut collection De wizers yn it read Bruinja revealed himself as a tender lyrical poet who is often able to transmute extremely personal experiences into verse that is rich in imagery and highly musical. By joining together sentences or parts of sentences without punctuation as well as by an effective use of enjambement, he proved able to turn his poems into forceful, intense wholes. A fine example is his poem ‘fjouwerjend kaam er út syn lêste dream’ (‘He galloped out his final dream’). The images in this poem, which in themselves bear witness to an inventive spirit, tumble over each other with great agility, together forming an extremely fragile and sensitive portrait.

In his recent work, Bruinja reveals to an increasing extent just how adventurous his writing is. He seems to break language down into its primary elements and then to join them together in his own wilful way. In this way, poems emerge that create a highly suggestive and spontaneous impression. The reader imagines himself in a smithy: he sees how the iron is forged into new shapes. It has been said about Bruinja’s recent poetry that with its fragmentary composition, it bears witness to the age of television. You could also say that it is created out of a deep realisation that our experience has become fragmented.

© Jabik Veenbaas (Translated by John Irons)  
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