Robert van Asten
(Voorburg, 1978) is Alderman for Mobility, Culture and Strategy of the City of The Hague since June 2018. Libraries, monuments and cultural heritage are also part of his policy areas. Furthermore he is Alderman of Segbroek, one of the eight The Hague districts. Before taking office as Alderman, Van Asten was a member of The Hague's City Council for D66 since 2014. He studied tax law at Leiden University and worked for, among others, Deloitte and Vistra.(WN 2019)
Archive available for: Robert van Asten
With: Aad Meinderts, Alistair Payne, Gideon Samson, Jasper Albinus, Joke Hermsen, Marente de Moor, Noraly Beyer, Oleg Lysenko, Paul Demets, Robert van Asten, Stefan Hertmans, Thomas de Veen, Tijn Wybenga, Tjitske Jansen
The Schrijversfeest (Writers' Fest) is a festive program with readings and musical performances accompanying the awarding of the four literary prizes of the City of The Hague by Robert van Asten, alderman for Culture. As laudatio givers you will see and hear writer and philosopher Joke Hermsen, poet Tjitske Jansen and NRC literary editor Thomas de Veen. Musical odes will be performed by classical accordeonist Oleg Lysenko, piano player and composer Tijn Wybenga and trumpet player Alistair Payne. The opening poem will be read by poet Jasper Albinus; host will be Noraly Beyer.
A regular feature is the finale of the educational project Spot on Young Poets: the finalists, secondary school students from The Hague, read poems they wrote during school workshops. Among them Mirle Wittekoek, who won the Young Campert Prize last year. The audience determines which of the finalists wins this award for a young Hague poet this time.
Writer, poet and essayist Stefan Hertmans wins the Constantijn Huygens Prize for his entire body of work. Hertmans achieved his big breakthrough in 2013 with the novel Oorlog en terpentijn (War and Terpentine). The book is a delicate and intense ode to his grandfather, who grew up in poverty, fought at the front in World War I, and lost the love of his life too soon. He worked through his grief by painting.
Hertmans has been a highly respected Dutch literary writer for much longer. According to the jury, since his 1981 debut with the experimental prose book Ruimte (Space), he has built up a body of work that covers almost every genre. His collected poetry runs to about 1,000 pages, published as Muziek voor de overtocht (Music for the Crossing). His prose comprises novels, stories, as travel book and essays. He has also written theatre texts and published notable monographs about philosophy and visual art.
Paul Demets (1966) wins the Jan Campert Prize for his volume of poetry De Klaverknoop (The Shamrock Knot), a smashing collection in which each image is loaded and meaningful without making the poetry impenetrable. Demets' big achievement is knowing how to tie up the language without constricing the reader. These poems keep on sizzling in your mind.
Marente de Moor (1972) wins the F. Bordewijk Prize for her novel Foon. The tragic attempts of man to control, comprehend and direct nature lie at the heart of her work. It expresses a great love of science and a deeply felt understanding of the futiliy of human endeavour. She resolutely leads her reades to the edge of the woods, well knowing that sooner or later, something will happen to call forth the bears. Foon is a masterfully written novel of ideas about humans who are less and less able to stand the mysteries of existence, written by one of the most idiosyncratic authors writing in the Dutch language.
Gideon Samson (1985) wins the biannual Nienke van Hichtum Prize for his book Zeb. The book's freakish incidents are served up as simple logic in an otherwise completely realistic environment. The disruption mostly affects the mind of the reader - an effect that is happy, funny and playful but also covers up an ominous feeling of alienation. Zeb. adds a unique and absurdist work to the Dutch youth literature canon.
This program is a collaboration with the Jan Campert Foundation / Literature Museum. In Dutch.
With: Aad Meinderts, Annemarie Estor, Douwe Draaisma, Hans Aarsman, Hassnae Bouazza, Jan van Aken, Jenny Arean, Maartje Meijer, Marja Pruis, Mathilde Santing, Maxime Garcia Diaz, Nelleke Noordervliet, Pauline Krikke, Robert van Asten, Sumai Yahya
Appearances by singer, cabaret artist and actress Jenny Arean (accompanied on piano by Peter van der Zwaag), singer Mathilde Santing (accompanied by musicians Bastiaan Mulder and Guus Bakker), memory psychologist and author Douwe Draaisma, jazz pianist and composer Maartje Meijer and photographer and writer Hans Aarsman made this a fantastic Schrijversfeest edition.
They performed to honour the winners of the literary prizes that the Jan Campert Foundation awarded on behalf of the City of The Hague. These were handed out during this Winternachten festival afternoon by the Mayor of The Hague, Pauline Krikke, and Robert van Asten, alderman for mobility, culture and strategy.
The Schrijversfeest was opened by young poet Maxime Garcia Diaz who reads from her own work. Then high-school students recited their poetry written during workshops at school. Among them Sumai Yahya, who won the Young Campert Prize last year. The audience decided which of three student nominees won this award for a young Hague poet this time.
Nelleke Noordervliet received the Constantijn Huygens Prize for her complete oeuvre. Since 1987 she has published a large number of novels, novellas, stories, essays and radio commentaries. Themes of historic ties, freedom, the collective and responsibility characterize her work. Her latest novel is Aan het eind van de dag (At the End of the Day, 2016)
Jan van Aken received the F. Bordewijk Prize for his novel De ommegang (The Procession). It takes place in Europe during the year 1400, "a time when fierceness prevails, death is always lurking, and the equally brilliant and opportunistic protagonist attempts to defend his position so that he can build a cathedral", according to the jury.
Annemarie Estor received the Jan Campert Prize for Niemandslandnacht (No-Man's-Land Night). This swirling prose poem, which reveals itself further at every reading, evokes a world that is both surreal and contemporary.
The biannual J. Greshoff Prize went to Marja Pruis for her essay collection Genoeg nu over mij (Enough Now about Me). "I" must deserve you, writes the journalist, critic and writer. She certainly deserves this prize for her full-out and unabashed thinking and writing.
This programme is a collaboration with the Jan Campert Foundation / Literature Museum.
Opening NIght of the Winternachten festival is dedicated to freedom of expression, featuring poetry, music, the Free the Word! speech, and the Oxfam Novib PEN Awards ceremony.
Robert van Asten, The Hague Elderman for Mobility, Culture and Strategy opened the festival. Radna Fabias, winner of the 2018 C. Buddingh Prize for best Dutch-language poetry debut, started the night off with a reading from her collection Habitus. Then the Mexican-American writer Jennifer Clement, chair of PEN International, delivered a statement about freedom of expression. After that, Canadian writer Madeleine Thien delivered the Free the Word! speech.
Nicaraguan writer and poet Gioconda Belli and Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour who currently risk their freedom and lives to seek out and publish the truth were honoured during the prestigious Oxfam Novib PEN Awards ceremony. Oxfam Novib director Michiel Servaes handed out the prizes. Also Italian writer Roberto Saviano received an Oxfam Novib PEN Award. Since the publication of his book Gomorrah (2006), he lives under police protection and could not attend. Afterwards, the other two winners discussed their work and experiences with writer and journalist Hassnae Bouazza and Dutch national news presenter Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal. They read from their own poetry. English spoken.
The Opening Night programme was framed with musical performances by singer-songwriter Raj Mohan and hosted by Hassnae Bouazza. The evening is a collaboration between Oxfam Novib, PEN International and PEN Nederland.