Already in his debut collection Welcome Hygiene (1996), Paul Bogaert showed that he wouldn’t shy away from tough love. His poems are written in strong language, he doesn’t mince matters or pull any punches: ‘In this way, my love, I hope to have said: it’s going to hurt.’ A forceful tone, even when it comes to love: ‘Come over me/ Punish every muscle./ Rest, distract me.’ He was awarded the triennial prize for Literary Poetry from the province of Flemish Brabant for this book. Since then, he has published four more collections. They are all very different from each other but have earned Bogaert the reputation as having one of the most distinctive voices in Dutch language poetry, “because he has such a precise ear for the nuances with which language is consciously or unconsciously laden.”
His first collection stood out for its verses full of bizarre logic and a carefully measured mixture of registers. His restless first person narrator is plagued with over-awareness; the way he analyses himself and others creates an alienating effect. In his second collection, Circular systems, Bogaert examines his fascination for all things that rotate. A closed, circular system generates security, but also discomfort. In an aloof, pseudo-scientific tone he creates poetic language machines in which the ordinary is contrasted with the systematic. “It is as though you’ve been served a plate of food upon which some of the ingredients are still alive.”
AUB (Please) from 2006 is a collection about giving and taking in which many “other people” pop up, including a lot of uninvited guests. The Slalom Soft from 2009 consists of 29 separate poems which also form a single long poem. A lifeguard gets into trouble in a subtropical water park, or is it an office nightmare? “Bogaert presents us with a hell, or worse still: he shows us the world we live in.” His latest collection, Our Desire (2013) is a chilling display of all the things people do to each other. Bogaert is not only one of the most modern but also one of the most interesting poets writing at the moment, one who gets under your skin rather than remaining at a distance, on paper.
Bogaert also makes poetry films. For the past two years he has been collaborating with Karsten Krause (Germany) and Jan Peeters (Belgium) to this end. Bogaert works in Brussel and lives in Leuven.
Welcome Hygiene, Meulenhoff, Amsterdam,1996
Toespraak (Speech), DRUKsel, Amsterdam, 1998
Circulaire systemen (Circular systems), Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 2002
AUB (Please), Meulenhoff/Manteau, Antwerp, 2006
De Slalom soft, Meulenhoff/Manteau, Antwerp, 2009
Ons verlangen (Our Desire), De Bezige Bij, Antwerp, 2013
German translations appeared in Schreibheft (2004), Zwischen den Zeilen: Eine Zeitschrift für Gedichte und ihre Poetiek (2008, nr. 28), Park. Zeitschrift für neue Literatur (2010, nr. 64) and as Roughbook nr. 27 (Rough Books, 2013).
English translations appeared in Jacket 31 (2006)
French translations appeared in Bloum à Bruxelles: promenades littéraires (Le Castor Astral, Bordeaux, 2000), Le verre est un liquide lent: 33 poètes néerlandais (Farrago, Paris, 2003), Littérature en Flandre: 33 auteurs contemporains (Le Castor Astral, Bordeaux, 2003), and the periodicals Poésie (2003), Action Poétique (2006, 2010) and DESHiMA (2010, nr. 4).
Serbian translations appeared in Rane (2009), Slovenian translations in Ruimte (2009), Romanian translations in Apostrof (2013, nr. 11).
Provincial Prize for Literature (1997)
Hugues C. Pernathprijs (nomination, 2003)
Flemish Culture Prize Poetry (nomination, 2007)
Herman de Coninckprijs Best Collection (2010)
Flemish Culture Prize for Poetry (2010-2011)
Wintertuin-Ivens Cinepoem Award 2011 for ‘INJECTIONS’ (poetryfilm, 2010)
“Empfehlung Internationale Lyrik in Übersetzung” for Der Soft-Slalom, translated by Christian Filips (Roughbook 2013)
Herman de Coninckprijs Best Collection (2014)
The poetry collections of Paul Bogaert are published by Meulenhoff
The personal website of Paul Bogaert
Paul Bogaert is on Lyrikline