Journalist, essayist and poet Geert van Istendael’s latest book of poems, He was wat was (It was what was) deals with an eclectic blend of themes and subjects: portraits of locals, observant compositions, and an analysis of the modern financial world all meander through this volume of poems.
According to this year's jury report, 'Van Istendael indeed describes objects and animals with a sharp focus, he looks at the tress full of awe, and he curiously listens to his neighbors when they are speaking in dialect. It all seems small and idyllic, but because of the clear and firm gesture of Van Istendael's texts we do know that we are fully situated in reality.' His poems show 'a world that lets itself be known in details, inhabited by people that cultivate their eccentricity while they seem to be full of resignation'.
In this book, 'Van Istendael levers the everydayness and tragedy of life. This tragedy can be hidden by the inescapable, as well as by elation. Van Istendael writes irrefutable poetry'.
'Shoebox', 'Nothing they saw . . .' and 'Of the juniper tree this be the tale' are available here in English translation by Willem Groenewegen.