Hester Knibbe was born in 1946 in The Netherlands and currently works as a clinical pharmaceutical analyst. As a poet she made her debut with her collection ‘Tussen Gebaren en Woorden’ (t: Between Gestures and Words) in 1982. She has since published several more collections of poetry, amongst them „Zwerfmotief“ (2006; t: Roamer motive). In 2001 she was awarded the ‘Anna Blaman Prize’ for her entire works.
The title of her collection ‘Een dunne duurzaamheid’ (t: A Thin Permanence) brilliantly charcterises Hester Knibbe’s writing: her poetry focuses on things permanent, but is nevertheless pervaded with themes like vulnerability, fragility and transience. Permanence, says Knibbe, is only appearance, in a sense, because all those things that seem to have stood the test of time – classic art, Greek mythology, Chinese temples – have not always remained the same: “Change has always been / here.” It is change, the motion of life, which Hester Knibbe tries to grasp and shape in her poetry.
Other themes may appear foreign, distant and at the same time highly intimate, as in the incisive cycle ‘Antidood’ (t: Antideath), about a mother whose son falls seriously ill – a subject, Knibbe handles unpathetically and unsentimentally. She keeps her distance and evokes images that represent the actual events as well as her personal experience of them. Emotions are expressed in subtle, mostly indirect ways, as in a moving dream about a small child which, warmly wrapped up and firmly held, slowly freezes – “a film of ice / coated its eyes, its mouth. I cried out”. Hester Knibbe says she tries to “write as clearly as possible about often very personal things”, knowing, that “the most pesonal is also the most universal”. In 1999 she received the prestigious ‘Herman Gorter Prize’ for ‘Antidood’.
© international literature festival berlin