Tsead Bruinja is a poet unafraid of delving into the alternative, the small and the unknown. For instance, Bruinja’s debut collection was written in Frisian: De wizers yn it read (The meters in the red) appeared in 2000, with little worry over the relatively small number of the language’s readers. From 2003 onward, however, after publishing Dat het zo hoorde (The way it should sound), he began publishing his collections in Dutch.
Bruinja actively searches for unknown, unfamiliar artistic grounds. In addition to being a poet, he is a critic, performer, editor, interviewer, teacher and, when a Frisian Bob Dylan tribute album was released, even a musician and singer. The poet deliberately seems to investigate the broader, wider uses of his writing in order to discover new and surprising poetic configurations. Bruinja’s collaborations with painters and sculptors, such as Milou van Ham, René Knip and Joep van der Made, should be seen as examples of this endeavor. Still, such expansive curiosity does not seem to slow down Bruinja’s poetic production. After Dat het zo hoorde, he has published Batterij (Battery) in 2004, Bang voor de bal (Scared of the ball) in 2007, Overwoekerd (Overgrown) in 2010 and Binnenwereld, buitenwijk, natuurlijke omstandigheden (Innerworld, outer district, normal conditions) in 2015.
Additionally, Bruinja does not shy away from taking the miniscule or the mundance as the starting point for his poems; cardboard boxes, birdsong, a football or a collar of reed is sufficient motivation to write: ‘the collar of reed/the helmgras//a cycler disappears behind the tree fall/behind the fingers of the willow’s branch’, and ‘a man listens to the birds/but a bit longer than you or me’. But things are, as usual, not what they seem. Although he starts with modest objects or proceedings, Bruinja often ends up with surprising sensations and thoughts. He writes about the permanent insecurity of living together – and about transience and loneliness – as well as trust and love in an almost nonchalant and always lyrical way. Although Bruinja’s use of language sometimes seems as simple as his catalysts, his poems are in fact full of experiments, jokes, allusions and funny and inventive associations. On display is the skill of a poet that knows the proper dosages of complexity, emotion and heaviness; a poet that knows when best to apply them.
Bruinja’s poems lend themselves readily to the stage; it is no surprise that the poet often is seen performing throughout the Netherlands. The musicality and malleability of his writing has led to collaborations with hip hop and flamenco musicians – again, divergent poetic grounds over which Bruinja dares to traverse. No matter how small or large the stage, Bruinja knows how to make it his home.
“Musicality sparkles through all of Bruinja’s poems.”
– Maria Barnas, De Groene Amsterdammer
“One expects a great deal from a poet who writes verses like these.”
– Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, NRC Handelsblad
Dat het zo hoorde. Contact, Amsterdam, 2003
Batterij. Contact, Amsterdam, 2004
Bang voor de bal. Cossee, Amsterdam, 2007
Overwoekerd. Cossee, Amsterdam, 2010
Binnenwereld, Buitenwijk, Natuurlijke Omstandigheden. Cossee, Amsterdam, 2015
De wizers yn it read. Bornmeer, Gorredijk, 2000
De man dy’t rinne moat. Bornmeer, Gorredijk, 2001
Gegrommel fan satyn. Bornmeer, Gorredijk, 2003
Gers dat alfêst laket. Bornmeer, Gorredijk, 2005
Poems on CD
Zingo Poetry Slam – Het beste van drie jaar Poetry Slam in Nederland. Vassallucci & De Wintertuin, 2004
Kutgedichten, gedichten over en met het vrouwelijke geslachtsdeel. Ed. Daniël Dee and Tsead Bruinja. Passage, 2004
Droom in blauwe regenjas / Dream yn blauwe reinjas. Nieuwe Friese dichters / Nije Fryske dichters. Ed. Hein Jaap Hilarides and Tsead Bruinja. Contact & Bornmeer, 2004
Klotengedichten, poëzie over de mannelijke genitaliën. Ed. Daniël Dee and Tsead Bruinja. Passage, 2005
Het eerste wonder - De geboorte in meer dan 50 gedichten. Ed. Thomas Möhlmann and Tsead Bruinja. Van Gennep, 2007
Bruinja’s homepage, in 13 different languages
An appearance by Bruinja on MTV
Bruinja on VPRO Radio
Audio recording of the poem ‘Appels kopen’
Bruinja on iPoetry.nl
Profile and one poem in translation on Epibreren
English edition of Dream in a blue raincoat, an anthology of contemporary Frisian poetry
Bruinja’s profile on Lyrikline