23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Anneke Brassinga
© Serge Ligtenberg

Anneke Brassinga

Anneke Brassinga was born in the Dutch village of Schaarsbergen in 1948. At the University of Amsterdam she studied translation science. She then published her first literary texts pseudonymously in various Dutch magazines.

She has translated work by Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, Ingeborg Bachmann, E. M. Foster, Samuel Beckett and Vladimir Nabokov into Dutch. The work of translating Hermann Broch’s novel, »The Death of Virgil« and Sylvia Plath’s posthumously published collection of poetry, »Ariel« had an impact on the motifs and experimental ambition of Brassinga’s first book of poems, »Aurora« (1987). By her own account, her poetic sensibility can be traced to an idiosyncratic approach to reading, which is indispensable for the transposition of meaning and rhythm in the text. In her essay, »The beating heart of the text«, Brassinga argues that language is therefore to be understood as as a »living substance« which always retains its immutable autonomy. This idiosyncratic position in relation to the language itself effectively establishes a balance between the signifiers arrested in the imagination and the original physical and sensual world of experience. To this end her writing combines the topoi of baroque poetry with the playful self-reflection of postmodernism. Using neologisms she elides the line between reality and artistic creativity. In this way the nuances of individual words and designs are rendered visible and at the same time a kind of extended etymology is proposed. Brassinga never seems to shy away from challenging the reader with her original symbiosis of literary currents. It is precisely in this associative approach, in which rapprochement is sought between precision and obscurity, that the evocation of ecstatic states is possible. According to Brassinga, »The poem speaks itself, it unfolds as music, the attentive recipient hears it arise in his mind and it feels like a kind of aura around the language«. With her excellent language skills and extensive, polyglot vocabulary, which she uses in the exploration of feelings, states of nature and linguistic boundaries, she is considered to be one of the most renowned figures in contemporary Dutch poetry. In 2005 she published her collected work under the title, »Wachtwoorden« (tr. Watchwords).

Brassinga’s awards include the Herman Gorter Prize (1990), the VSB poetry prize (2002), as well as the Anna Bijns Prize (2005). In 2008 she was awarded the Constantijn Huygens Prize for her life’s work. Brassinga lives in Amsterdam. She is currently a guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Residence programme in Berlin.



De Bezige Bij

Amsterdam, 1993

Het zere been

De Bezige Bij

Amsterdam, 2002

Bloeiend puin

De Bezige Bij

Amsterdam, 2008

Das klopfende Herz des Textes

Gedichte und Essays

In: Schreibheft – Zeitschrift für Literatur

Nr. 72, 2009


De Bezige Bij

Amsterdam, 2010