Wim Hofman is best known as a writer of children’s books and as a visual artist. His work has won many awards, for his writing as well as his drawings. Hofman might as well be termed a travel author and builder of rafts, as his main characters are keen explorers sailing their home-built rafts, like Wim in Het vlot (‘The raft’) or driving around in soap-boxes like Monkey and Bear.
‘Writing’, says Hofman, ‘is like a journey one sets outs upon. You have an idea. You know where you want to go, but on your way you come across all sorts of things that meet or don’t meet your expectations.’
Hofman grew up in the province of Zeeland, in the southwestern Netherlands – the sea, the beach with its flotsam and jetsam, the spacious skies – all this stimulated his imagination. Hofman’s early work, featuring the travels of King Wikkepokluk, or Welwel the Wizard, was more fantastic than his later stories: Wim and Het vlot are set in a world more like our own, and are more autobiographical in content.
Hofman’s stories are the products of ‘childish imagination’, but they are by no means carefree stories. In his own words: ‘(.) the world of the child is not the joyful, colourful, adventurous, painless little world that many grown-ups would expect to see (.). It is the same world for all of us’.
Hofman’s poems ‘for grown-ups’ are born from the same imaginative, independent spirit. Many resemble songs. Shanties, some, ballads, others, in their absurdism often resembling the songs of Jacques Prévert, the French songwriter whose work Hofman has translated.
[Wim Hofman took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2002. This text was written on that occasion.]