Elly de Waard
(The Netherlands, 1940)   
Elly de Waard

Elly de Waard tested the literary waters in the late 1970s with two, rather subdued, collections: Afstand (Distance) and Luwte (Shelter). Her own poetic voice broke free in Furie (Fury, 1981), an outpouring of romantic longing and passion - 'Oh, panting, singing, we wage war, / inseparably incompatible' - which caused quite a stir , not less by its explicitly erotic treatment of Lesbian love, than by its untrendy, baroque use of language. Furie contains all the elements of De Waard's later work: the theme of romantic love, the longing, the eroticism, the interweaving of modern themes with those of the classical poetic tradition.

There are frequent references to Sappho and other poets of the classic era, to whom she feels more akin than to most of her contemporaries. She has consistently rejected the hermetic experimentalism of the Vijftigers group and took a leading role in the group of women poets who manifested themselves as De Nieuwe Wilden (The New Savages) in the late 1980s.

More recently De Waard's fervent emotionalism has reverted to a quieter mode of poetry. In her trilogy Eenzang (three collections of poems written in two-line stanzas) she frees herself from the dead weight of the outside world: 'and in my head there is / a waiting for a new / hospitableness'. In her latest collection Anderling (1998) she has once more abandoned strict form and allowed herself room to expand in breathing, free-moving verse. Nature plays a major role in these recent poems, but also the pain of a fading love and the inability to be to the other what one would like to be: 'I felt it was my task / to rid her / of all harm, to cleanse her / of all inconvenience'. Elly de Waard writes poetry which directly links the self with the world, emotions with language. Because: 'the feeling which belongs to / some occurrence / cannot do without / an image or a word.'.

© Mirjam van Hengel (Translated by Ko Kooman)

Elly de Waard on iPoetry.nl

[Elly de Waard took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 1999. This text was written on that occasion.]


Subscribe to the newsletter

follow us on facebook follow us on twitter Follow us (international)  

follow us on facebook follow us on twitter Follow us (Dutch)