Hagar Peeters had been reading at major Dutch poetry festivals for some years when her début collection Genoeg gedicht over de liefde vandaag (Done enough love poetry for today) appeared in 1999: poems about love, a subject she treats with light-footed irony, in language that at first glance looks like everyday speech, but on closer examination appears to be carefully composed, with inventive and effective use of all sorts of poetic devices.
“Hagar Peeters takes the lead in poetic community,” wrote the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad after the publication of her second collection, Koffers zeelucht (Trunks full of sea air) in 2003. Some reviewers sensed in this collection, as they had in the first, a tendency towards the rhetorical, probably on account of Peeters having often and ably presented her own work, for the poetry itself is subtle, rich in nuance, effective, but never crude or banal. Koffers Zeelucht has retained the humour, but lacks the light tone of her début collection. “All that we had we left there in the lurch/ and searched for that which had abandoned us” – in these two lines from the final poem she sums up what the whole collection is about. In some of the poems the fear of or longing for arrival clashes with the fear or longing to break free. In the first set of the collection, containing poems about her relationship with her parents, she describes the source of this dilemma. The subsequent – by no means platonic – love poems are permeated with the breach that seems unavoidable, even though the poet often defers her misgivings until the last line of the poem. In the two last sections of the collection she plays agilely with a whole set of different genres and registers: lamentos, dramatic monologues, portraits, that seem to bring to mind Van Ostaijen, or Nijhoff, or Vasalis, but impress as truly Peeters in the end.
For her poem ‘Droombeeld’ (Dream vision) from Koffers zeelucht, Peeters received one of the three Poetry Day Prizes in 2004. She also won this year’s Jo Peters Poetry Prize.
Hagar Peeters on iPoetry.nl