Jules Deelder is undoubtedly one of the Netherlands’ best-known poets. He owes much of his fame to public appearances, in which he combines a dandyish pose with a curious mixture of popular city humor and irony, dished up in an uncut Rotterdam accent. He is arguably the godfather of Dutch performance poets.
There is an unmistakable link between Deelder’s poetry and the Dutch ultra-realists of the 1950s, and an even stronger kinship with the carefree anarchism of the 1960s. Many of his poems are on an exciting collision course with established taste. Apparently, Jules Deelder has found the recipe for successfully combining a deadpan exterior and crass realism with the comic effect of irony. He calls himself a ‘neon realist’, a ‘neon romantic’ and a ‘neon comedian’. Deelder has a rare command of register, mimicking the language of soaps as effortlessly as that of military rhetoric or the quasi-profound verbiage of esoteric or antiquated cultures. He does this in his poetry as well as in his prose, which never fails to betray the poet.
Deelder’s work often tends toward cabaret, but was not cabaret the mainspring of a movement like Dadaism? With the Dadaists he shares a fondness for the absurd, born from a relentless defiance of established high art. He has thus made of himself a kind of enfant terrible of the Dutch poetic scene, but one that cannot be ignored. Several of his poems have achieved the status of ‘modern classic’, and if he is not one of the Netherlands’ most read poets, he certainly is one of the most heard.
[J.A. Deelder took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2000. This text was written on that occasion.]