Poet Tonnus Oosterhoff wins P.C. Hooft Prize 2012

The Dutch poet Tonnus Oosterhoff (°1953) has won the P.C. Hooft Prize 2012. It is one of the most prestigious prizes in the Dutch linguistic territory. It goes alternatively to a novelist, essayist and poet. In 2005, Piet Gerbrandy wrote an essay on Oosterhoff’s work. Read the full article here or continue reading an excerpt below. Where does modern poetry end? You can discuss this for a long time too, but if we look back in 2050, we shall perhaps find that modern poetry in the Netherlands ends with Tonnus Oosterhoff. Ever since his debut in 1990 he has gone his own way with steely consistency, which has resulted in the strangest and wittiest poetry of the past decade. Because for Oosterhoff the poem is not a static construction but a continuous process. In his books poems make themselves impossible and the identity of the poet a blur. With each new publication, Oosterhoff’s work has strayed ever farther from the well-trodden paths of Dutch poetry. He is continuously seeking new boundaries, the limits of language, significance, and form, in order to transgress them. His experiments have caused him to be regarded as the most important newcomer of the nineties and the most innovative writer within the realm of present-day Dutch poetry. In addition, he also devotes attention to prose, which, to him, does not differ fundamentally from poetry. Here, too, he attempts to stretch the bounds of narrative art and to experiment with forms and genres. ‘It is a pleasure to be Tonnus Oosterhoff’ Little has remained of the alleged anxieties expressed in his first work. On the contrary, with the passage of time Oosterhoff’s poetry has become increasingly light-hearted, while often sounding absurd at the same time. His yearning for poetic license has become absolute, generating surrealistic linguistic adventures or anecdotal parlando poetry, or a mixture of the two. het is een genoegen Tonnus Oosterhoff te zijn. “Ik zou het ook wel willen.” Jawel, maar dat gaat niet. ‘it is a pleasure to be Tonnus Oosterhoff. “I wouldn’t mind being him either.” Not much chance of that I’m afraid.’ Just glance at the website of the poet: http://www.tonnusoosterhoff.nl/. It presents poetry that changes during reading. This approach aims to demonstrate that poetry no longer wishes to express definitive views – it is unfinished and subordinate to change. Moreover, it is not only purely textual, but also visual and aural in its nature.

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