Stefan Hertmans
(Belgium, 1951)   
Nederlands ►
Stefan Hertmans

Stefan Hertmans is considered one of today’s leading Dutch-language writers. He has published novels, collections of short stories, essays on literature and philosophy, theatre texts and poetry. His most recent novel Oorlog en terpentijn (War and turpentine, 2013) established his breakthrough to a larger general audience. In 2016, he was invited to write the annual Poëziegeschenk (Poetry gift), a collection of poems distributed for free during the Dutch-language Poetry Week. His work has been widely translated and published, including in English, French, German and Spanish. Previously, Hertmans was a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent.

Hertmans has won several major literary prizes, such as the Flemish Culture Prize for Poetry for Muziek voor de overtocht (Music for the crossing, 1994), a collection of five long poems on Paul Hindemith, Paul Valéry, Paul Cézanne, Vaslav Nijinsky and Wallace Stevens. The same collection was nominated for the VSB Poetry Prize. The collection Goya als hond (Goya as a dog, 1999) was acclaimed as a true summit in his oeuvre and in contemporary Dutch and Flemish poetry. In 2006, Hertmans published Muziek voor de overtocht. Gedichten 1975-2005 (Music for the crossing. Poems 1975-2005), a revised reprint of all his poetry volumes.

2010 saw the publication of De val van vrije dagen (The lure of idle days), which was nominated for the Herman De Coninck Prize. In this collection, as in the rest of his oeuvre, Hertmans’ poetry shows itself full of incomparable meaningfulness. It is ‘and/and-poetry’: it is both dream and eye-opening reality, it is longing and forgetting, it is loss and gain, it is singing and speaking and keeping silent at the same time. With De val van vrije dagen, Hertmans adds a remarkable building block to his voluminous output. Further, to reread his collected poems from the point of view of this collection becomes very attractive: the emphasis in this collection highlights new aspects from earlier poems and cycles, because the lure of idle days confronts us with ‘laws without law’, ‘a fragment of voices in the mist, / and everything is open again’.

© Tom Van de Voorde and Patrick Peeters


Muziek voor de overtocht (Music for the Crossing), Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 1994
Francesco’s paradox, Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 1995
Annunciaties (Annunciations), Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 1997
Goya als hond (Goya as a dog), Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 1999
Kaneelvingers (Cinnamon Fingers), Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 2005
Muziek voor de overtocht. Gedichten 1975-2005 (Music for the crossing. Poems 1975-2005), De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2006
De val van vrije dagen (The Lure of Idle Days), De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2010

Naar Merelbeke (To Merelbeke). Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 1994
Fuga’s en pimpelmezen (Fugues and blue tits). Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 1995
Steden (Intercities). Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 1998
Als op de eerste dag (As on the first day). Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 2001
Harder dan sneeuw (Harder than snow). Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 2004
Het zwijgen van de tragedie (The silence of tragedy). De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2007
Het verborgen weefsel (Hidden fibre). De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2008

Poetry in translation
Selection of poems in English, Modern poetry in translation, 1997
Francesco’s paradox. English. Limelight, Kortrijk, 1999
Scardanelli. Gedichte. German. Athena, Oberhausen, 2001
Goya como perro. Spanish. Het beschrijf, Brussel, 2001
Antología de poemas. Spanish. Calima Ediciones, Palma de Mallorca, 2002
Selected poems. Georgian. Link, Tbilisi, 2003
Le Paradoxe de Francesco. Poèmes. French. Le Castor Astral, Paris-Bordeaux, 2004
Selection of poems in German, Keine triste Isolde, Gegenwartslyrik aus Flandern und den Niederlanden, Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen, 2007
Selection of poems in German, Park. Zeitschrift für neue Literatur, Berlin, 2010
‘Tervaete’. English. Modern poetry in translation, 2014
Fuegos artificiales, dijo ella. Poemas. Spanish. Festival Internacional de Poesía de Córdoba, Córdoba, 2014

Literary prizes
Arkprijs van het Vrije Woord (1988)
Interprovincial Prize for Literature (1989)
Prize of the Flemish Guide (1992)
Flemish Culture Prize for Poetry (1995)
Paul Snoek Prize (1996)
Maurice Gilliams Prize (2002) 

The poet’s home page (in Dutch, English, French and Spanish). 
Hertmans’ work is published by De Bezige Bij (in Dutch).
Hertmans on Lyrikline.

Last updated 19 January 2016.


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