Kreek Daey Ouwens
(The Netherlands, 1942)   
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Kreek Daey Ouwens

Kreek (her given names are Elisabeth Hubertina Louisa) Daey Ouwens published her first volume of stories and poems entitled Stokkevingers, at a rather late age in 1991. From the outset it has been apparent that she doesn’t make a sharp distinction between poetry and prose, nor does she draw a clear line between adulthood and childhood. A good example is the story about the girl Bee, who is filled with memories of her dead mother. It is one of the poems/stories in the collection Tegen de kippen en de haan (1995) which considers both adult and childish points of view.  Kreek Daey Ouwens’ prose is poetic and sometimes her poems narrate stories.

On other levels, dividing lines are also easily crossed: a fish makes her think of a human being, children at play remind her of sparrows, reason and madness are closely related. It is no coincidence that she once wrote an essay entitled ‘The brightness of a loony.’

Knowing it to be an overstatement, one might say that Kreek Daey Ouwens does not give too much value to generally accepted distinctions. She prefers to work together with musicians and draughtsmen to produce something intimate, rather than a spectacular Gesamtkunstwerk.

Kreek Daey Ouwens’ poems do not depend on dramatic effects, on the contrary, they are quiet miniatures which nestle in your memory with colour and expressiveness:

My mother is far away
She is young and shy
She lies in her coffin like a small violin

Her themes are unmistakable: family, childhood and memories. Every now and then one finds an autobiographical note in her poems, but it is her refined and almost shy subtlety which catches the eye. Her latest work Kinderbed (child’s bed) from 2003, has the same imprint of subtlety.

Her work has been called “a jewel of stillness” and that could very well be the best description so far.

© Rob Schouten (Translated by Kees Nijland)

Kreek Daey Ouwens took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2007. This text was written on that occasion.

Selected Bibliography

Stokkevingers, Querido, Amsterdam, 1991
De haan mept buiten op de stenen, Herik, Landgraaf, 1995
Tegen de kippen en de haan, Querido, Amsterdam, 1995
Kinderbed, Querido, Amsterdam, 2003

In Dutch
‘Hoofd vol vissen’ by Kreek Daey Ouwens on DBNL
One poem by Kreek Daey Ouwens


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