One year after publishing her first book of poems, De Aantekening (The Note; 1978), Gerry van der Linden left the Netherlands for the USA. For the next four years, she lived and worked in New York and San Francisco. During that period, she read with Alan Ginsberg, met Laurence Ferlinghetti and continued to write and develop as a poet. A few years after returning to the Netherlands, she published her second collection, Val op de rand (Fall on the Edge; 1990). Certain characteristics of her later work emerged here: a playful yet passionate approach to language, a keen eye for the absurdness in our daily lives, a thematic preference for travelling, love and family.
"I write poems that arise from looking around me," she explained in a recent interview, "What's happening around me and beyond gives me an idea, a thought, a question, a feeling of discomfort and anxiety. I have to do something with that, just as I have to breathe to live. It's a need to capture and show the essence of anything in its own universe. A universe which I continually adjust and extend with a kind of language that's often at odds with the concrete experience." This approach to writing, to language and to life is consistently displayed in her poetry, from Aan mijn veren hand (At my Hand of Feathers; 1993) and Zandloper (Sandglass; 1997) to Uitweg (Way Out; 2001) and Goed volk (Good People; 2004). With each new collection, Van der Linden needs to renew, or even reinvent her tools and material, her language and vocabulary, in order to maintain some grip on reality. The first nine poems from the cycle 'Rumoer' (Bustle), taken from her most recent collection, Glazen Jas (Coat of Glass; 2007), offer a fine example of the struggle with reality in which Van der Linden is engaged. She depends solely on her words – along with her sense of humour, that is – to describe, but also to tame the world around her.
Van der Linden teaches Poetry and Creative Writing at the Amsterdam School of Writing (Schrijversvakschool) and is a personal coach for (aspiring) writers. From 2005 until 2008 she was a member of the board of the Dutch PEN Center and took care of the WIPC (Writers in Prison Committee). Alongside her eight collections of poetry to date, she has published three books of fiction. She also works as a visual artist, makes collages and creates installations of leftover materials. Her next collection of poems, Wat een geluk (What Happiness), will be published mid 2012.
Praise for Gerry van der Linden
[Van der Linden's poems are] associative, straightforward, and they reflect the inability and helplessness that we all experience in various forms of love bonds ( . . . ) It is pure, pungent lyricism.
Fleur De Meyer in Flemish poetry review Poëziekrant
It's extremely feminine, sensitive and physical poetry.
Rob Schouten in Dutch weekly Vrij Nederland
De aantekening (The Note), De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 1978
Val op de rand (Fall on the Edge), Prometheus, Amsterdam, 1990
Aan mijn veren hand (At my Hand of Feathers), Nijgh & van Ditmar, Amsterdam, 1993
Zandloper (Sandglass), L.J. Veen, Amsterdam, 1997
Lila en de tekens (Lila and the Signs), Bèta Imaginations, Rotterdam, 1999
Uitweg (Way Out), L.J. Veen, Amsterdam, 2001
Goed volk (Good People), L.J. Veen, Amsterdam, 2004
Glazen jas (Coat of Glass), Nieuw Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 2007
Wat een geluk (What Happiness), Nieuw Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 2012
Stadswild, Nieuw Amsterdam, 2014
Verse helden, Nieuw Amsterdam, 2017
Enveloppen (Envelop; novella), Amber, 1992
Wind (Wind; novel), Nijgh & van Ditmar, Amsterdam, 1995
Dolk (Dagger; novel), L.J. Veen, Amsterdam, 2000
Van der Linden's poems have been translated and published in anthologies and reviews in Bulgaria, England, France, Germany, Indonesia, Macedonia and Slovenia.
Links (in Dutch)
Van der Linden's homepage
An interview with Van der Linden in Meander
A YouTube interview with Van der Linden on her publisher's website