Jan Lauwereyns
(Belgium, 1969)   
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Jan Lauwereyns

Jan Lauwereyns (Antwerp, 1969) writes about his love for silence. His poetry embodies a relationship with the impossibility of perfection. The formal experiment of writing (sometimes in collaboration, in a range of languages) substantiates, up to a point and never completely, the insistent presence of absence. Forms temporarily affirm certainty, but never entirely or lastingly so: “The lake won't actually fit on the page.” Writing articulates the desire to push boundaries towards “the ultimate apostrophe”, with a view to transcending individual mortality: “To have said the unsayable / To have spoken the impeccable.”

Like the Romantic poet John Keats, one of many literary and philosophical influences (including, among others, Robert Burton and René Descartes, Gertrude Stein and Wallace Stevens), Lauwereyns writes about what he imagines. His imagination is largely inspired by a focused, selective gaze, by ‘attention’, which is also Lauwereyns’s main research interest as a cognitive neuroscientist at Kyushu University in Fukuoka.
Sometimes he dreams about “cracking the code / of the poetic soul” (Blanke Verzen [Blank Verses]), in a rewriting of the Orpheus myth. In Buigzaamheden (Pliabilities), the uncertainty of perception, the ethics of experimental research and the fruitful affirmation of a range of loves (Japan, woman, child) are interwoven into a state of mutual confirmation. The accommodation of contradictions and reversals is a recurring motif: Tegenvoetig, tweebenig (Wrong-Footed, Two-Legged) asserts, by way of return: “No train ever travels far enough.” Anophelia! De mug leeft (Anophelia! The Mosquito is Alive) dances between “The flowerbed of reality” and “The gravel path of truth” to a closer connection between ethics and aesthetics, heart and brain, animals and human beings. Most recently, in Hemelsblauw, winner of the 2012 VSB Poetry Prize, Lauwereyns celebrates pain and loss as an immortal poetic gift: “Dying, you’ll never die / Collected / The taste of sound.”

© Heidi Thomson

Nagelaten sonnetten, Manteau, Antwerpen,1999
Het zwijgen van de dichter, Gent, Druksel, 2001
Blanke verzen, Lannoo, Tielt, 2001
De boeke-kas. Waartoe zo veel?, Druksel, Gent, 2002
Buigzaamheden, Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 2002
Monkey business, Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 2003
Het bloembed van de werkelijkheid, Druksel, Gent, 2004
Tegenvoetig, tweebenig, Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 2004
Splash: Lyrische suite over biologie, ritueel en poëzie, Vantilt, Nijmegen, 2005
Anophelia! De mug leeft, Meulenhoff/Manteau, Amsterdam en Antwerpen, 2007
Ik, systeem, de werkelijkheid (with Leo Vroman and an image by Jus Juchtmans), Druksel, Gent, 2007
Vloeistof en welvaart, De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2008
Lied van het meer (audiobook), DeBuren, Brussel, 2008
あたまがないへび , Addertje zonder kop, Druksel, Gent, 2009
Zwelgen wij denkend rond (with Leo Vroman), De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2009
The Anatomy of Bias: How Neural Circuits Weigh the Options, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2010
Stemvork (with Arnoud van Adrichem), IJzer, Utrecht, 2010
Three Poems (with drawings by Johan Velter), JOUGA, Reading, 2010
Truths of Stone (Waarheden van steen; with Michael Palmer and a drawing by Nicolas Leus; trans. Tom Van de Voorde), Druksel, Gent, 2010
De smaak van het geluid van het hart, De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2011
馬を野に放つ , Een paard vrijlaten in het veld (with Kiwao Nomura and images by Kris Martin), Druksel, Gent, 2011
Hemelsblauw, De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2011
Shoaling Things (Naar de ondiepte; with Arkadii Dragomoshchenko and a drawing by Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, in collaboration with Evgeny Pavlov), Druksel, Gent, 2011
De Willekeur, De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2012

Literary prizes
C. Buddingh' Prize (Nomination, 1999)
Hugues C. Pernath-prize (2003)
Flemish Culture Prize for Essay (Nomination, 2006)
VSB Poetry Prize (2012)

The works of Jan Lauwereyns are published by De Bezige Bij.
A podcast of the narrative poem ‘Song of the Lake’ (in English)


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