Charlotte Van den Broeck
Flemish poet Charlotte Van den Broeck was born in Turnhout in 1991. She studied literature and linguistics in Ghent, which was followed by studies in drama (verbal arts) at the Royal Antwerp Conservatory.
In 2015, her first collection of poems »Kameleon« (Eng. »Chameleon, Nachtroer«, 2020) was published, which won the Herman de Coninck debut prize in 2016. The poems primarily focus on the topic of growing up, which is depicted as carefree and elegant; however, moments of misunderstanding and mistrust of the world and the language of adults are also articulated. Her poems often depart from reality and live from ambiguous images on the fringes between the concrete and the abstract. In her next volume of poems, »Nachtroer« (2017; Eng. »Chameleon, Nachtroer«, 2020), which was awarded the triannual Paul Snoek-prize, Van den Broeck examines adulthood; the theme of failed love runs like a thread through the texts, which are internally connected to one another and thus form, as it were, a flowing, thoroughly composed overarching text. Taken together, the two volumes of poetry reveal a rich tonal and emotional spectrum, ranging from playfulness to introspection to melancholy. Her literary prose debut »Waagstukken« (2019; tr: Bold Ventures) is a mixture of biography, historical novel, essay, and diary in which Van den Broeck paints thirteen portraits of architects and master builders from different eras who all met a tragic end. The common reason for their downfall or even suicide was the failure of a building project. The failed attempt to participate in the shaping of public space not only called into question the authority of the mostly male architects, but was also perceived by them as a personal failure. Van den Broeck also links building and writing, questioning whether any form of creatorship is not a kind of foolhardiness. The book was awarded the Confituur Boekhandelsprijs 2020 and was shortlisted for the Boekenbon Literatuurprijs. In her essay »Cosmos, Texaco« (2020), she provides insight into her poetic affinities.
In 2016, Van den Broeck, together with Arnon Grunberg, opened the Frankfurt Book Fair with a country focus on Flanders/Netherlands. Together, they presented their work »Ohne Nabel« (tr: Without Navel), which is structured as a dialogue and addresses homeland, origin, and identity. Van den Broeck’s works have been translated into many languages including English, French, Spanish, and Afrikaans. Van den Broeck is renowned for her distinctive performances, in which she searches for a dramatic approach to the »speakability« and physicality of oral poetry. She has performed at various festivals, e.g. Saint Amour, Poesiefestival Berlin, Woordfees in Stellenbosch, and the Ledbury Poetry Festival. She works as an editor for the literary magazine »DW B« and teaches literary analysis and essayistics at the Royal Conservatoire in Antwerp.