Simone Atangana Bekono
(The Netherlands, 1991) is a writer, poet and essayist. Her debut collection Hoe de eerste vonken zichtbaar waren (How the First Sparks Became Visible, 2017) won the Poetry Debut Prize Aan Zee. Her first novel Confrontaties (2020, the English version Confrontations will be published in January 2024) was also a hit and awarded several prizes, including the Best Book for Young People. In it, 16-year-old Salomé is jailed for abusing schoolmates; she tries to keep her cool among the other girls, psychologists and harassing counselors. In 2022 she followed that with Zo hoog de zon stond, a novella in southern gothic style, in which Sonny and primary school friend Myrthe babysit her parents' house in summer. As they shelter inside from the heatwave, Sonny slowly loses her grip on reality due to sleepless nights, Myrthe's unpredictable behaviour, and the villa itself, which seems to have a will of its own.(WU2024)
Archive available for: Simone Atangana Bekono
Writers tell us about their favourite book: the book that inspires or touches them, that set their artistic, moral or intellectual compass. In short, the book they would recommend to everyone. Interview: Abdelkader Benali.
Is the lyrical voice a chatbot confidently making statements based on an outdated dataset?
Maarten van der Graaff, who curated Garbage In, Garbage Out, asked these poets to listen carefully to chatbots skimming the Internet to answer our questions. What does the tone of chatbots forging all that information into sentences mean for poetry?
What is the role of the body in writing, reading and listening to poetry? Who or what do you actually hear when listening to a poem: an intimate voice, or a cacophony? Can the poem be a garbage collector?
Garbage In, Garbage Out is an event featuring both formerly published poetry as well as work newly written for the occasion by and with Ronelda Kamfer, Simone Atangana Bekono, Astrid Lampe, Dewi de Nijs Bik, Anne Boyer and (via a previously recorded video presentation) Zheng Xiaoqiong.
How do writers relate to decolonizing language and literature, not only in their subject matter but also in the form of their poetry and stories?
During the Friday Night Unlimited program, several events will focus on the decolonization of the mind. How free is our mind, what does freedom mean, and are we truly free, or caught in the framework of our culture, society and history? This theme is partly based on the essay collection Decolonizing the Mind by the Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o, in which he discusses colonized language and how its influence is still notable. Since he believes that language plays a constructive role in culture, history and identity, he argues for "linguistic decolonization".
This first program will be opened with a speech by writer Mukoma Wa Ngugi (USA, and son of Ngugi wa Thiong'o); then Simone Zeefuik discusses this subject with him and with poet Simone Atangana Bekone (Netherlands), poet and writer Antjie Krog (South Africa) and writer Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe).
Tip: Petina Gappah also appears at Opening Night - A Free Mind on Wednesday, 15 January, at Theater aan het Spui; Antjie Krog appears at Saturday Night Unlimited, 18 January, and during the Winternachten New Year's Concert on Sunday afternoon, 19 January, at the Zuiderstrand Theatre.
Within De verborgen ruimte (The Secret Space), the map is newly read and drawn by nine poets. Which sounds and tones belong in it, what has not yet been said, and what is continually misunderstood? Who is on the sidelines or smack in the centre? The Secret Space could be in suburbia, in a body, in a factory farm, or in an addictions clinic. This has consequences - whoever peeks into the secret space loses a number of his or her certainties. When the map is redrawn, no one finds their way home.
The "VSB Poetry Prize on Tour" forms part of The Secret Space - among the performing poets are the authors of three volumes nominated for the VSB Poetry Prize: Kwaadgesternte (Born Under a Bad Sign) by Hannah van Binsbergen, Lichtmeters by Ruth Lasters and Koelkastlicht (Refrigerator Light) by Rodaan Al Galidi. In addition, Marieke Rijneveld, Dominique de Groen, Mira Feticu, Obe Alkema, Simone Atangana Bekono and Ton van 't Hof will read from their work. The Secret Space is organized and presented by the poet Maarten van der Graaff, winner of the C.Buddingh' Award 2014 for his debut collection Vluchtautogedichten (Getaway Car Poems). Programme in Dutch