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Peter Verhelst

Peter Verhelst - foto Filip Naudts
Peter Verhelst - foto Filip Naudts

(Belgium, 1962) is an award-winning novelist, poet, and playwright. Since 2006 he has worked with NTGent as a theatre director. Verhelst debuted in 1987 with the poetry collection Obsidiaan (Obsidian). His first novel Vloeibaar harnas (Liquid Armour) followed in 1993. His breakthrough came with Tongkat in 1999. Verhelst frequently refers to other writings, (visual) art, and reality. He is often considered an aesthete because of his poetic language. Zwerm: geschiedenis van de wereld (Swarm: The history of the world, 2005) marked a turning point. In it, he referred to current issues and replaced exuberant metaphor with sober expression. His poetry volume Wij totale vlam (Us Total Blaze, 2014) was awarded the Ida Gerhardt Poetry Prize. In this collection, people return from the moon, or they see birds dive into a lake and write words on the underside of the water's surface. His novel Voor het vergeten (Before forgetting, 2018), written after his mother's sudden death, he witnesses his father's mourning, tries to find his way with stories and memories, and opens new worlds featuring deer, works of art, cats and Japanese gardens. His poetry collections Zon (Sun, 2019) and 2050 (2021), seem to take a new turn towards broader landscapes, visions of the future, and social positioning. He was awarded the 2021 Constantijn Huygens Prize for his oevre. The novella Lichamen (Bodies), a "passionate declaration of love for language", comes out in January 2022.

(WN 2022)

Archive available for: Peter Verhelst

  • 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.