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Martin Reints
(The Netherlands, 1950)   
 
 
 
Martin Reints

Martin Reints has published five collections of poetry. After Waar ze komt daar is ze (Where She Comes, There She Is; 1981), he waited eleven years to publish the second book: Lichaam en ziel (Body and Soul; 1992, Herman Gorter Prize). The next two, Tussen de gebeurtenissen (Between the Events, 2000) and Ballade van de winstwaarschuwing (Ballad of the Profit Warning, 2005) were both shortlisted for the prestigious VSB Poetry Prize. Most recently Lopende zaken (Matters at Hand, 2010) appeared. For his collection of essays Nacht- en dagwerk (Night- and Day-work, 1988) he received the Jan Greshoff Prize.

Martin Reints is a poet who likes to think. It shows in his poetry. Or, perhaps he is a thinker with a gift for writing poetry. In an interview after the publication of his second collection Lichaam en ziel (Body and Soul, 1992) he said: “Thinking fascinates me. On the one hand you are what you can see, the reality around us, and on the other hand you are what’s in your head. What is the relation between the two?” In a good-natured, crystal-clear, often humorous manner, Martin Reints’s poems probe what he sees around him and what is in his head. The ‘I’ allows his thoughts to spread, first along the table he is working at, then across the furniture and objects in the room, towards the incoming light, the darkness or the sounds in the interior, before dispersing into the outside world. In fact, all Martin Reints’s poems are thought exercises. They are concerned with environment, the passage of time, memory, the relation between the ‘I’ and what surrounds it. The poems are free in form, but very precise, “carefully arguing” (to quote critic Piet Gerbrandy). Rob Schouten expressed it like this: “Reints’s poems have a smooth, natural, unconstrained flow; they combine gravity with humour, enjoyment with philosophy, spontaneity with precision. They are a joy to read and don’t leave one’s thoughts untouched.”

I experience the way in which Martin Reints almost says nothing as being incredibly alienating, displaying a sense of wonder that has remained intact, a gripping objectivity and a serene helplessness – and being witty too.

Belgian poet and critic Herman de Coninck

Martin Reints’ poems are marvellous.
Maarten Doorman in Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad

Even his announcement that the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy are making straight for each other seems to have a consoling undertone. It is above all a sense of wonder that speaks from his poetry – at the absurdity of the world that surrounds us, and the strong will to maintain that sense of wonder at it.
Victor Schiferli in Dutch daily Het Parool

© Erik Menkveld and Thomas Möhlmann (Translated by Ko Kooman)

Bibliography

Waar ze komt daar is ze (Where She Comes, There She Is), De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam 1981
Nacht- en Dagwerk (Night and Day-work), De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 1988
Lichaam en ziel (Body and Soul), De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 1992
Tussen de gebeurtenissen (Between the Events), De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2000
Ballade van de winstwaarschuwing (Ballad of the Profit Warning), De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2005
Lopende zaken (Matters at Hand), De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2010

Reints’s poems have been translated and published in anthologies and reviews in China, England, France, Germany, Spain and Macedonia.


Links

Reints’s poem ‘After the Storm’ in English and Danish translation
Reints’s poem ‘Lawnmower’ animated on YouTube
Reints reading his poem ‘Diamantbuurt’on YouTube
Reints’ page on VPRO, including audio
Reints’ page on publishing house De Bezige Bij website
Reints’ page on the DBNL (Digital Library for Dutch Literature) website

 




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