Translated from the Dutch by Judith Wilkinson
Introduction by Robert Minhinnick
Toon Tellegen is one of Holland’s major modern writers, and his work has been widely translated. In his candid style, steeped in the absurd, he explores the unpredictability of human nature. Many of his poems are short, psychologically telling character sketches, in which his sympathies tend to lie with the underdog. There are also tender, tentative poems dwelling on the passing of time and on the twists of fate that befall us; poems that play with ancient fairy-tale themes; poems that read like little stories or parables; and more philosophical, abstract poems that nevertheless have a strong heartbeat. His work is urgent, rich in startling dialogue, and frequently takes place at the limits of life. This long-awaited, broad selection illuminates the range of Tellegen’s highly original poetry, tracing its development over nearly four decades.
‘It is hard to overstate Tellegen’s uniqueness. With their simple surfaces and complicated depths, Tellegen’s meditations on the human predicament make perfect sense on one level but are deeply ambiguous on another. It’s difficult to imagine a poet whose work is more likely to appeal to admirers of both mainstream and experimental contemporary poetry.’ – John Brehm, The Manhattan Review
Judith Wilkinson is a British poet and translator living in the Netherlands. She has won many awards, including the Popescu Prize for European poetry in translation (for Tellegen’s Raptors) and the Brockway Prize. Her other translations of work by Tellegen are About Love and about Nothing Else (Shoestring, 2008), Raptors (Carcanet, 2011) and A Man and an Angel (Shoestring, 2013). She has also translated books by, among others, Miriam Van hee (a PBS Recommendation), Hagar Peeters and Menno Wigman (forthcoming). Two collections of her own work have been published by Shoestring.
This book was published with the support of the Dutch Foundation for Literature.
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