English

Biography

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 todo 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 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. 

 

 

 

In 2012 the collection ‘Wat een geluk’ (What happiness) was published, poems full of fresh views on the absurdity of every day’s life. Her most recent collection is Stadswild (City’s prey) 2014, that startled the critics by its; ‘poetry as it is drawn in the air, showing us the outside world penetrating our inside, if we like it or not’.

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 ten 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.

 

© Thomas Möhlmann

 

 

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

Bibliography

Poetry

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 (City’s prey), Nieuw Amsterdam, 2014
Prose

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)

An interview with Van der Linden in Meander
A YouTube interview with Van der Linden on her publisher’s website

 

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English

Poems

Lila en de tekens (1999)

Zandloper (1997)

Aan mijn veren hand (1993)

Cold Catches Fire (Essays, Poems & Stories against Climate Catastrophe). Published by A SEED Europe 2000).

 

 

* Poems translated into French and German will be on this page soon.

 

 

Poems from 'Glazen Jas' (Coat of Glass)

Poems from Glazen Jas (Coat of Glass, 2007) by Gerry van der Linden

 

first 9 from cycle ‘Rumoer’ (Bustle) pp. 39 – 48

 

 

Tomorrow the sea will fall backwards

ebb will drink flow

without warning

the sky will let rip

 

we’ll be left behind in the sand

threadbare angels

dissident angels

without all-day passes

 

tomorrow the wind will turn

without mercy

driftwood will capsize

nothing amazing ahead

 

we’ll be left behind in the sand

with peeled bodies

tainted thighs

dredged mouths

 


II 

 

 

Martha Rudzka waking up

regarding household       

 

a chair with three legs

a table without a top

a paper without stories

 

pamphlets bread sausage

presidential candidate pyjamas

cut sheets

 

measly bread

her clothes

vetted breasts

 

early morning light

a man without shoes

unsmoothed hair

 

a smile appearing honest

soft pats on her thigh

her empty case

 

empty household

empty clothes

 

 

III

  

Fatima S. has disbanded her body

 

familial rules

in honour of sun public days

nothing worth doing

in personal pitch black

 

no name to support her

voice nor child the latter

on her heels unrest on off

jumps up from sleep

 

head heart

ageless house as serving hatch

ageless dismissed mouth

 

screaming costs money energy woman

 

veil to lie beside

 

 

IV

 

 

Honey-mouth jumps out of bed

there lies the town

a stone recently thrown

such a pleasant day

honey-mouth Dutch tulip

with her yellow silk headscarf

camel boys watch out!

cans of Arabian coffee

thud in the sun

 

honey-mouth closes her eyes

her feet careful

relieved the front door swings

bong! the church bell strikes

good morning honey-mouth

her stomach ramadans

her head bumps heaven

not rose-coloured

clouded faces in fact

 


shut up honey-mouth!

nice lies tap fire

what to call truth?

how does she feel? warm cold?

why doesn’t she speak?

more she wants to taste

question

how much truth does

a veiled kiss eat?

 


V

 

A man sweeps the pavement

why his wife left him

he does not know

sweeping the pavement

makes him happy

a child won’t go to school

stops at his feet crying

the man sweeps it away

a cool morning breeze blows down the street

 


 

 

A woman fits a dress

why her husband left she does not know

fitting the dress cheers her up

a man passes the shop

sees her whirling in the window

the woman takes off the dress

here there beyond

dresses walk containing women

that don’t fit

 


VI 

 

Across the street

a tree is being cut down

branches lie on the quayside

the tree falls with a thud

light falls on the stones

four men in orange overalls

fasten steel cables around its bark

it is hoisted

the tree passes the window

the room disappears in its shadow

the men yell

the tree passes through the sky

which is blue as a doll’s eye

 


VII 

 

 

A woman in torn clothing

cries heart-wrenchingly

by the store’s revolving door

a married couple comes to a halt

muslim woman sprains her ankle

bags rush past the shopping route

the woman points her sobbed-on claw

at the striped sleeve of a man

listen up where did you get that child?

 

 

VIII

 

The city a hanky

down at heel filthy

pigeons scoff

trees flee

trams catch loudly

on the city’s grooves

in the supermarket the whores

on half-mangled step-ins

morning men

remainder the morning

kids bounce off

 

the city a hanky

not picked up

 

the city

 

 

 

 

all poems translated by Willem Groenewegen, 2007