September 14, 2014

Obe Postma

Obe Postma [Frisian Islands, Netherlands / writes in Frisian]

Born in Cornwerd in the Netherlands Frisian Islands on March 20, 1868, Obe Postma, the son of a Protestant farmer, grew upon on the family farm. But his father taught him a love for literature, and brought him into contact with other Frisian writers such as J. C. P. Salverda and J. G. Blom.

     After a primary education in his hometown of Makkum, Postma attending Gymnasium in Snits before moving on to the University of Amsterdam to study mathematics and physics. Although he developed a wide range of cultural interests during his university years, he did not forge his Frisian upbringing and language.

     He graduate in 1892, becoming a lecturer of mathematics in Tiel and Tilburg the following year. From 1894 to 1933 he taught mathematics and mechanics at the HBS school in Groningen and, later, in Amsterdam.

     His first poetic work was published in the journal Forjit my net in 1902, and his first collection of poetry, Fryske LAN en Fryske Libben appeared in 1918, reprinted in 1923. In these early works the poet used the Frisian literary genre to express vaguely sentimental rural, romantic themes. Yet there was a simplicity and ironic tone to the work that reminds some of the American poet Robert Frost.

    In later works he sought out philosophical themes, introducing free verse into Frisian literature and combining an eclectic mix of subject matter from the medieval past to automobiles and airplanes.

     His voice became even more ironic after World War I, particularly in the book Il sil bistean.

     Postma retired from teaching in 1933, but continued writing poetry throughout his life. He also used the pseudonym J. C. Falke in his writing.

     Besides poetry, Postma wrote essays on science and modern agricultural methods.

     He died in Leeuwarden in 1963.


Fryske Lân en Fryske libben (Snits: A. J. Osinga: 1918; 1923); De ljochte ierde (1929)’ Dagen (1937); It sil bistean (1947);Samle fersen (Snits: Brandenburgh, 1949); Eigen kar (Drachten: Laverman, 1949); Twaris fiff (1955); Een groene lantaarn (1957); Fan wjerklank en bisinnen (Drachten: Laverman, 1957); Anne Waman bespreek: Een groene lantaarn van J. C. Falke (1958); Boedga rapsodie (1961)

What the Poet Must Know: An Anthology [in Frisian and English] (England: Librario Publishing Co., 2004)

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