‘In 2016, Dutch-language poetry has more guises than ever before. It is familiar, yet simultaneously alienating.’ - jury’s report on the VSB Poetry Prize 2017
The five nominated collections of poems in line for the VSB Poetry Prize - the leading award for Dutch-language poetry collections - were announced last night on VPRO’s ‘Nooit meer slapen’ [Never Sleep Again] radio programme. The collections are ‘Kwaadgesternte’ by Hannah van Binsbergen, ‘Koelkastlicht’ by Rodaan Al Galidi, ‘Lichtmeters’ by Ruth Lasters, ‘Dichter, bokser, koningsdochter’ by Delphine Lecompte and ‘Van groot belang’ by Nachoem M. Wijnberg. The winning collection will be announced and the prize awarded at the Grand Theatre, Groningen, on 26 January 2017 during the opening night of Poetry Week 2017. In the period leading up to this, the poets will present their nominated collections on various Dutch and Flemish stages during ‘VSB Poetry Prize on Tour’.
The jury's report - about the entries
'In times of pessimism and absence of illusions, with a major economic crisis continuing to make ripples, you would not expect publication of collections of poetry to take a high priority, yet the 134 entries for the VSB Poetry Prize 2017 contradict this assumption.
Poetry once again seems to be seeking out its previous urgency, and quite a number of young, vital players have entered the market in addition to the established publishers. Poetry is no longer restricted to the printed word, it is also thriving on a variety of stages, both large and small. These recent developments have resulted in a particularly varied, but also extremely rich and captivating palette.
Especially remarkable is the urge of many poets, youngsters as well as old hands, to position themselves at the very centre of their time. They have a heightened awareness of the challenges we all face in the 21st century and are making a conscious effort to let their own (poetic) voice resonate with that of others.
The refugee problem, migration issues and the economic crisis are conspicuous topics. This preoccupation with society is accompanied by a keen search for new forms of intimacy and security, for new rituals. Contemporary poetry is extrovert and at the same time looking for a new cosiness.
This all has consequences for style and language, too. It is remarkable how many poets play with their own autobiography with both irony and honesty at the same time. In their poems, they often incorporate various actual dates and events, mention their own name and those of real-life colleagues.
Just as remarkable is the manner in which poetry leaves its formal foundations: some of the poems are dialogues, in others, the verse pointedly wants to tell a story, and the manner in which some of the collections aim to be a novel in verse form, a kind of encyclopaedia or a portrait gallery, is typical. There are also experiments with all kinds of genres of text, new media and new forms of typography.
In 2016, Dutch-language poetry has more guises than ever before. It is familiar, yet simultaneously alienating. And that is just fine.'
Not all of the bibliographies of the VSB nominees are translated in English. The reports of the jury, together with all the nominees' poems, are translated in English.