February 19, 2012

Roland Jooris

Roland Jooris [Belgium/writes in Dutch]

Roland Jooris was born on July 22, 1936 in Wetteren, Belgium. Jooris graduated as a teacher for secondary education in Germanic languages, and worked for some years as a teacher at the State Technical Institute in Lokeren.

     In 1956 he published his first collection of poetry, Gitaar (1956), followed by Bluebird in 1957 and Een knosumptief landschap in 1969. Although his output over the decades was relatively small, his poems— influenced mostly by the French writings of André Du Bouchet and Pierre Reverdy—gained him a substantial reputation in Flanders and Netherlands.

     Jooris later became the curator of the Roger Ravell Museum, and has written extensively on art. He has several books of essays and interviews as well as his poetry.

     Critic Tom van de Voorde has noted that "Jooris' poetry evolves along the way into more stubborn terseness, into more language ascesis and calm. It is an evolution from concrete visibility to more abstract contemplation, from euphoria with regard to reality as poetry to the distillation of poetry as reality."

     Jooris has wond the Tweejaarlijkse prijs voor poësie van De Vlaamse Gids in 1976, the Jan Campertprijs for his Gedichten 1958-1978 in 1979, and the Prijs van de Vlaamse Provincies in 1981.


Gitaar (1956); Bluebird (1958); Een konsumptief landschap (Ghent: Yang, 1969); Laarne (Ghent: Yang, 1971); 'More is less (1972); Het vierkant op het einde van de zomer (1974); Het museum van de zomer (Ghent: Yang, 1974);  Bladstil (1977); Gedichten 1958-1978 (Antwerpen: Lotus, 1978); Akker (Tielt: Lanoo, 1982); Uithoek (Ghent: Poëziecentrum, 1991); Geschilderd of geschreven  (Ghent: Yang, 1992); Bloemlezing uit de poëzie van Roland Jooris (Ghent: Poëziecentrum, 1997); Gekras (Amsterdam: Querido, 2001); Als het dichtklapt (Amsterdam: Querido, 2005); De contouren van het verstrijken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2008)



I would like to place
that nightly blackbird
on a branch in a poem,
but after all why should
I, it’s perched there
where it should be: in
a poem out there.


thank you so much, just
applause will do, that’s
how yardbird charlie
dismissed the flaring

and that blackbird
in my garden too
can make do with
some musing after
a stirring solo

at the slightest clap of hand
he swishes off into
the dark

—Translated from the Dutch by Peter Nijmeijer


a village is a circle
drawn by hand
around a church;

a dove is a very
simple line void of air
on a rooftop;

a spring season leaves wet
stains on the paper
of the sky;

and look, now this is true
reality: I shall presently
let it rain
on my poem
so that it runs
into a watercolor
of sodden
illegible words.

--Translated from the Dutch by Peter Nijmeijer

English language translation copyright ©2005 by Peter Nijmeijer

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