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Alfred Schaffer

Alfred Schaffer - foto Pieter Vandermeer
Alfred Schaffer - foto Pieter Vandermeer

(Leidschendam, NL, 1973) debuted in 2000 with the poetry collection Zijn opkomst in de voorstad (His Ascent in the Suburbs). In recent years his work has been nominated for various poetry awards. The volume Schuim (Foam) won him the Hugues C. Pernath Prize, and for Kooi (Cage) he received both the Jan Campert Prize and the Ida Gerhardt Poetry Prize in 2008. His work is sometimes humorous, sometimes matter-of-fact, but always filled with absurdity. The son of a father from the southern Netherlands and an Aruban mother, Schaffer studied Dutch language and literature, film, and theatre before moving to South Africa in 1996, where he became a lecturer at the University of Capetown and earned his PhD. He put together Nuwe Stemme 3 (New Voices 3) with Antjie Krog, an anthology of work by unpublished African talent. Between 2007 and 2010 he was an editor at publishing house De Bezige Bij. In 2011 he returned to South Africa, where he lectures at Stellenbosch University. His new book of poetry Mens Dier Ding (Human Animal Thing) came out in 2014 and was nomiated for the VSB Poetry Prize.

(WU 2014 GR)

Archive available for: Alfred Schaffer

  • Winternachten 2015 – FRIDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Ode to Remco's Coat

    The spotlight shines on the poetry of Remco Campert in this festive programme. Portuguese fado singer Cristina Branco set Campert's Ode aan mijn jas (Ode to My Coat) to music especially for this event. She is accompanied by João Paulo. Mustafa Stitou, Hanneke van Eijken, and three poets nominated for the VSB Poetry Prize—Hester Knibbe, Alfred Schaffer, and Peter Verhelst—each dedicate a poem to Remco or write a poem inspired by his poetry. The Blue Moon choir concludes the programme with a song about a passage from Het leven is verrukkulluk (Life is Delightful). Hosted by Alma Mathijsen. A collaboration with Poetry International and the VSB Poetry Prize. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2014

    Writers Fest 2014

    With: Aad Meinderts, Alfred Schaffer, Antjie Krog, Bettine Vriesekoop, Elsbeth Etty, Francis Broekhuijsen, Geert Mak, Huub van der Lubbe, Jaap Goedegebuure, Jan Paul Schutten, Marjolein de Jong, Micha Hamel, Oek de Jong, Ronald Snijders, Tijs Goldschmidt, Tiziano Perez, Tom Lanoye

    The Writers' Fest is the festive conclusion of the festival with a programme full of writers and other guests. The line-up consists of among others the Dutch poet Alfred Schaffer, Geert Mak, the South African poet Antjie Krog, Tom Lanoye, literary critic Elsbeth Etty, flute player Ronald Snijders and singer/poet Huub van der Lubbe.

    The Writers' Fest includes the award winning ceremony of the Jan Campert Prizes, the literary prizes of the City of The Hague, with the presentation of the Constantijn Huygens Oeuvre Prize. The winner is Tom Lanoye. The South African writer Antjie Krog will do a eulogy on him and we'll hear Lanoye's words of thanks.

    The F. Bordewijk Prize goes to Pier en Oceaan (Jetty and Ocean) by Oek de Jong. The novel will be praised by Jaap Goedegebuure. Composer and poet Micha Hamel is recipient of the Jan Campert Prize for his book of poetry Bewegend doel (Moving Target). Bettine Vriesekoop will recommend the book to us. The Nynke van Hichtum Prize for children's literature goes to Het raadsel van alles wat leeft (The Riddle of Everything Alive) by Jan Paul Schutten. Writer and biologist Tijs Goldschmidt will sing the praise of that book.

    A programme in co-operation with the Dutch Foundation for Literature and the Jan Campert Foundation. The earlier announced performance of Anne Vegter has been cancelled for health reasons.

    In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2014 – FRIDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Talking to the poets: Rodaan Al Galidi and Alfred Schaffer

    Join the regulars' table. Host Francis Broekhuijsen welcomes poet Rodaan Al Galidi and Alfred Schaffer. We listen to their favourite music, and get a chance to talk to them. Don't forget to have your books of poetry signed. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2014 – FRIDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    The Text of my Life: Alfred Schaffer

    Which texts from world literature has Dutch poet Alfred Schaffer cherished as long as he lives? This most beautiful or most inspiring text can be a poem, an excerpt from a novel or a song-text. He discusses the text with the audience. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2014 – FRIDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Call me, call me!

    'Name me, name me, speak to me, o, name me by my deepest name. For those I love, I want to be called,' Neeltje Maria Min wrote some fifty years ago in one of her most famous poems. The deep longing for love and confirmation is translated tonight in music and poetry by the poets Arie Boomsma introduces to us: the onrushing young debutante Kira Wuck, nominated for the C. Buddingh' Prize, the much-praised Alfred Schaffer, living in South Africa, the Dutch Iraqi poet Rodaan Al Galidi, who is perpetually in love and the nominees for the VSB Poetry prize Miriam Van hee and Antoinde de Kom. Interspersed with a magnificent performance by rapper/poet Typhoon. 

    Programme in cooperation with Poetry International and CPNB 

  • Winternachten 2010 – Winternachten 1

    I speak your language

    The new generation of poets Ronelda Kamfer (South Africa), Alfred Schaffer (Aruba/the Netherlands) and Hagar Peeters (the Netherlands) recite from their work and talk to Stephan Sanders about their language and poetry. Ronelda Kamfer writes in Afrikaans. Is that language in her country still symbolic of the language of the Apartheid regime? Is Afrikaans beyond guilt, or is there a job to do here for Afrikaans poets like her? Alfred Schaffer, the son of an Aruban mother and a father from Limburg, writes his poems in Dutch and lived in South Africa for a while. In her poetry Hagar Peeters explores modern specimens of suppression in the Netherlands. How do these three young poets look at the guilt or innocence of the language they write in? And how does that language relate to the reality they seek to capture in their poems?
    Dutch/Afrikaans.

  • Winternachten 2008 – Winternachten zaterdagavond

    Who's Afraid of Youth? Pupils have the floor

    Don't miss it: pupils of Scholengroep Johan de Witt and the Atlas Onderwijs Groep, The Hague. They read their own work expressing their greatest fear. They are inspired by poet Saskia de Jong, who visited their schools, and by closereading a great many poems. Alfred Schaffer presents the new poets. They then reveal themselves as interviewers, asking De Jong questions on stage about the secrets of her trade.
    More pupil poetry: see Winternachten Friday night.

  • Winternachten 2008 – Winternachten vrijdagavond

    Who's Afraid of Youth? Pupils have the floor

    Don't miss it: pupils of the Atlas Onderwijs Groep, The Hague. They read their own work expressing their greatest fear. They are inspired by poet Ester Naomi Perquin, who visited their schools, and by closereading a great many poems. Alfred Schaffer presents the new poets. They then reveal themselves as interviewers, asking Perquin questions on stage about the secrets of her trade. In Dutch. More pupil poetry: see Winternachten Saturday night.

  • Winternachten 2007 – WINTERNACHT 1

    The last journey

    It happens a number of times a year in our country: a funeral where no one turns up. There are no surviving relatives or they show no interest in the deceased. The coffin is lowered into the ground under the watchful eye of the civil servant of social services. Enough, some poets thought. Now they write poems for these lonely funerals. Frank Starik, Neeltje Maria Min and Anneke Brassinga on the power of poetry. Dutch spoken.

    The child

    There is a mother in our life, she is
    the ground and knows why we were born,
    wherever we go she leads the way, where even
    we didn't dare to walk - on
    untrod earth in the underworld
    as if she were laid to rest there,
    as if she turned a hundred and nearly became our kid.

    You follow her as if she summoned:
    Klara, daughter, come you're dearly missed.
    Was there no man or animal to talk to?
    The longcase clock struck every quarter, chat-
    tering refrain of silence. Twelve weeks
    you were an orphan - twelve centuries?
    Now rest in peace, be reunited permanently.

    [Anneke Brassinga]


  • Winternachten 2007 – WINTERNACHT 2

    Pupil poets

    Do not underestimate them, the young talents at the secondary school in The Hague. In the past few years they made quite an impression with the poems they wrote for Winternachten. Alfred Schaffer presents the young poets, who were inspired by a poet in class, films on poetry and poets on the internet. Tonight we'll hear the result: their personal expedition in poetic form. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2007 – WINTERNACHT 1

    Pupils in search of poetry

    Tense and a little uncomfortably they roamed the theatre: the pupils who had to perform at the festival and who meanwhile stared at what their professional examples brought to the stage. Poet Alfred Schaffer presented the pupils from The Hague and their fresh verse. Inpsired by a poet in class, films on poetry or poets on the internet pupils wrote a poem about their personal expedition. Organized by the Huis van Gedichten (the House of Poems) and Winternachten. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2007 – WINTERNACHT 1

    Berber poetry - the advance of the Tamazight

    The way Fadma El Ouariachi reads is impressive. This poet from the Rif mountains writes poems in Tamazight, the language of the Berbers of North Africa. Young Dutch poet Khadija al Mourabit writes poets in this language. They performed together with Abdelkader Benali. He read poems from his recently published anthology Panacee. Specially for Winternachten he translated some of his poems into Tamazight. They spoke about the significance of the use of the Berber language in their work. In Morocco the language was kept out of public life for centuries, but recently is receives government support. Dutch translations.

  • Winternachten 2007 – WINTERNACHT 2

    Young poets - part 1

    'It is our explicit wish to remain anonymous', wrote poet Alfred Schaffer in his last anthology, Schuim (Foam). Nevertheless he and five other poets from the young generation read from their work. In this first part: Alfred Schaffer, made his debut in 2001 with the anthology Zijn opkomst in de voorstad (His Rise in the Suburb). He studied and worked in Cape Town, the city of poet Rustum Kozain. Kozains debut, This Charting Life, appeared in 2005. He did research into English South African poetry from the 1970s. The first book of poetry by Vrouwkje Tuinman, entitled Vitrine (Display Case), appeared in 2004. She read from her new collection De receptie (The Reception). Poet Tsead Bruinja introduced the poets and talked to them. The conversation was in English, there was a simultaneous projection in English of the Dutch poems.

  • Winternachten 2005 – WINTERNACHT 2

    Presentation of the school poetry project

    Two students of the Johan de Witt college in the Hague will present the results of a poetry project in cooperation with Huis van Gedichten (House of poems). About twenty students, varying in age from 15 to 19 years old, have each written a poem around the theme of this year's festival, 'Word and Image'. During the writing workshops the students were led by amongst others the poet Alfred Schaffer. This evening the two best poems will be introduced by Alfred Schaffer and recited by the young poets themselves.

  • Winternachten 2005 – WINTERNACHT 1

    VPRO De Avonden - live from Winternachten

    In the second hour of this live broadcast from Winternachten, Wim Brands and Roel Bentz van den Berg present the Dutch poet Alfred Schaffer, Erich Zielinski from Curaçao who made his debut later in life, the South African poet Diana Ferrus and the Dutch writer Thomas Verbogt. Zielinski wil talk about his much praised De Engelenbron (The Angels well), Ferrus will recite some of her Afrikaans poetry, and Alfred Schaffer, who only yesterday re-emigrated from South Africa, will recite some of his poems. De Avonden (The Evenings) is an informative cultural radio programme from the VPRO. It can be listened to on weekdays between 21.00 to 23.00 on 747AM.

    Dutch spoken

  • Winternachten 2005 – WINTERNACHT 1

    The Visual Poem

    In a time when the image culture becomes more and more invasive, the visual poem has fallen out of favour. Five poets will make an attempt to bring this tradition back to life: Wim Brands, Def. P, Hagar Peeters, Alfred Schaffer and Simon Vinkenoog. At Winternachten's request each one of them chose a recent newspaper picture and wrote a poem for this. We see the pictures and hear the poems read by the poets. The poets will take part in a discussion during the evening, chaired by Cox Habbema.

    Dutch spoken