Erik Spinoy is a poet and professor of Dutch literature at the University of Liège. His first collection of poetry, De jagers in de sneeuw (The Hunters in the Snow, 1986), was awarded the Flemish Debut Prize; his second collection, Susette (1990), the prestigious Hugues C. Pernath Prize. Partly thanks to the latter volume, Spinoy is, together with Dirk van Bastelaere, seen as one of the major representatives of postmodernism in Flemish poetry.
In his work, Spinoy often refers to illustrious voices from the past, not only to poets such as Hölderlin, Dickinson and Trakl, but also to philosophers such as Kant and Lyotard. For Spinoy, philosophy and literature are overlapping domains. His poetry is richly sonorous and full of ambiguity of meaning, but he never allows himself to be carried away, resorting to poetry and language only where thought ends – language for him is an instrument which enables us to try, against our better judgment, to unveil what cannot be unveiled. As a thinker he explores the boundaries of cognition; as a poet he wonders how poetry can be made to cross those boundaries. Perhaps poetry brings “the world closer / that never comes true”.
In his recent work – which includes Boze wolven (Wicked Wolves, 2002), generally acknowledged to be his best and richest collection of poetry to date – the focus is on the complex problem of human identity, which is seen as the precarious and unpredictable outcome of a process in which social discourse and individual drive interlace, enter into conflict with one other and/ or find some form of modus vivendi. This view of identity leads Spinoy to dwell upon the role of discourse in social and political matters, and on the way individuals continually (re)shape their identities in, through and against discourse.
Erik Spinoy’s seventh collection Dode kamer (Soundproof Room; 2011) was nominated for the 2012 VSB Poetry Prize.
Erik Spinoy was a guest at the 41st Poetry International Festival.
De jagers in de sneeuw (The Hunters in the Snow), Manteau, Antwerpen, 1986
Susette (Susette), Arbeiderspers, Amsterdam, 1990
Boze wolven (Wicked Wolves), Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 2002
L (L), Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 2004
Ik, en andere gedichten (I, and other poems), Meulenhoff/Manteau, Antwerp, 2007
Dode kamer (Soundproof Room), De Bezige Bij Antwerp, Antwerp, 2011
(For rights enquiries about Erik Spinoy’s poems from Dode Kamer, please contact De Bezige Bij Antwerp.)
The Literary Review, Madison, 1994
Modern Poetry in Translation, Oxford, 1997
When the Time Comes: A Selection of Contemporary Belgian Prose Poetry, Quale Press, Florence, 2001
Böse Wölfe: Gedichte, Schreibheft, Essen, 2002
Selection of poems, in Keine triste Isolde, Gegenwartslyrik aus Flandern und den Niederlanden, Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen, 2007
Selection of poetry, Tratti, Faenza, 1995
An essay about the poetry of Erik Spinoy (In Dutch)
Audiofiles of Erik Spinoy reading his poems (In Dutch)
An essay about Erik Spinoy by collegue-writer Stefan Hertmans (In German)
The website of the literary magazine Nieuwzuid (In Dutch)