Before she published her first collection of poetry, Twee zonnen (Two Suns, 2003), Maria Barnas had already written two novels and established herself as a visual artist. She studied at the Rietveld Academy and the Rijks Academy, both in Amsterdam, and her artwork has been exhibited in Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin.
A year after it was published, Twee zonnen received the C. Buddingh’ Prize, one of Holland’s most important debut prizes. The jury of that prize considered her work, “contemplative, musical poetry, desperate and humorous, powerful and brittle, with a transparency that gets more complex on re-reading”. Although similar words could be used to generally describe her second collection, Er staat een stad op (A City Rises, 2007), the poet’s style has clearly evolved: Barnas loosens her grip on syntax and widens her focus. Meanwhile, sharp observations seem to overrule contemplation, and a light, slightly frightening sense of violence enters her poems now and again. Her craftsmanship, which critics praised in Twee zonnen, is still there, but it’s put to use in a more nonchalant manner.
Barnas still combines her various artistic trades, and added writing poetry reviews, a libretto and plays for theatre and radio to the list, but writing poetry is at the centre of her activities. As she once told a reporter of the Dutch daily Trouw, she always needs to find a solution for something in a poem first, before she can start thinking about it in any other form.
Jaja de oerknal (Yeah-yeah the Big Bang) was nominated for the VSB Poetry Prize 2014, and her most recent collection Nachtboot (2018) was nominated for the De Grote Poëzieprijs 2019.
(Thomas Möhlmann, 2008)
Twee zonnen (Two Suns), De Arbeiderspers, Amserdam 2004
Er staat een stad op (A City Rises), De Arbeiderspers, Amsterdam 2007
Jaja de oerknal, De Arbeiderspers, Amsterdam 2013
Nachtboot, Van Oorschot, Amsterdam 2018.
Engelen van ijs (novel), De Arbeiderspers, Amsterdam 1997
De baadster (novel), De Arbeiderspers, Amsterdam 2000
In: Vamos a Ibiza (Spanish, catalogue), translated by Diego Puls, Groninger Museum, 2007
In: By heart - Uit het hoofd (English, anthology), translated by Sarah Corbett, Antony Dunn, Daljit Nagra, Five Leaves, Nottingham 2006
In: Dias Abertos (Portuguese, anthology), translated by Fernando Venâncio, Culturgest, Lisboa 2006
Dutch edition of Carapace Magazine (English, South Africa), translated by Willem Groenewegen and John Irons, in: Carapace, no. 53, 2005
Mlada nizozemska poezija (Slovenian, anthology), translated by Katjusa Ruciga, in: Mentor, XXVII, nr.1-2, 2006
Uit Nederland (German, anthology), translated by Ulrike Draesner, Norbert Hummelt, Marlene Müller-Haas, Marinus Pütz and Jan Wagner, in: Drehpunkt: Die Schweizer Literaturzeitschrift, nr.122, 2005
Website Maria Barnas
Barnas at VPRO, including Audio
Barnas and Rembrandt: a poem
De Arbeiderspers, Barnas’s pubisher
Barnas on iPoetry.nl