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Stefan Hertmans

Stefan Hertmans
Stefan Hertmans

(Belgium, 1951) is a writer of poetry, novels, essays, plays, and short stories. He debuted in 1981 and has more than thirty books to his name, including prize-winning titles like the poetry collection Muziek voor de overtocht (Music for the Crossing, 1995) and the novels Gestolde wolken (Solidified Clouds, 1988) and Naar Merelbeke (To Merelbeke, 1994). His international breakthrough, the family saga Oorlog en terpentijn (War and Turpentine, 2013), sold over 250,000 copies and was published in 24 languages. The book is based on some writings that Hertmans received from his grandfather. The reconstruction of the story begins in about 1900 in a working-class Ghent neighbourhood and gets an unexpected twist during the Great War. Hertmans taught at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and has delivered lectures at universities around the world. He was awarded the Constantijn Huijgens Prize 2019 for his body of work.

(WN 2020)

Archive available for: Stefan Hertmans

  • Winternachten 2020

    Schrijversfeest (Writers' Fest)

    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, 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.

  • Winternachten 2020

    VPRO OVT Live

    With: Clarice Gargard, Ellen Deckwitz, Jos Palm, Liesbeth Zegveld, Nelleke Noordervliet, Paul van der Gaag, Reggie Baay, Robin Block, Stefan Hertmans

    Every Sunday morning, the topicality of history is the focus of one of the most popular radio programs in the Netherlands. On Sunday morning, 19 January 2020, OVT will be broadcast live from Writers Unlimited festival in Theater aan het Spui. You can listen to and watch discussions, interviews and stories by festival authors and others. Hosts: Paul van der Gaag and Jos Palm. Program in Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2015

    VPRO's OVT Live

    With: Bas Heijne, Cynthia Mc Leod, De Règâhs, Elsbeth Etty, Mathijs Deen, Nelleke Noordervliet, Paul Scheffer, Paul van der Gaag, Reggie Baay, Stefan Hertmans, Ton van de Langkruis

    One of the most popular programmes on Radio 1 is VPRO's OVT (Simple Past Tense). Every Sunday the contemporary relevance of history takes centre stage.

    It has become a tradition for OVT's radio professionals to relocate to The Hague during the festival in order to broadcast live from the cozy lobby of Theater aan het Spui. The public is most welcome; admission and coffee are free. The programme includes a spoken commentary by Nelleke Noordervliet, an interview with Bas Heijne on Couperus, and a focus on writer Reggie Baay and his just-published book Daar werd wat gruwelijks verricht (Something Terrible Happened There), about the hidden history of slavery in the Dutch East Indies. With live music by the The Hague band De Règâhs. Don't forget to reserve your spot via the blue link above. Programme in Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2015 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    The Text of My Life: Stefan Hertmans

    In the Filmhuis Studio the festival's guest writers present their favourite literary texts and explain why a particular poem, novel excerpt, or song lyric influenced their life and work. Which memory, what feeling does this text call up for them? A continuous interview programme, in which the audience also talks with the writers. Hosted by Wim Brands and Fidan Ekiz. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2015 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Poets in the House

    Saturday Night Unlimited ends on a festive note with poetic presentations by writers who not only produce wonderful prose but also have a poet's heart beating within. Come listen to David Grossman's reading from Falling Out of Time, and to poems by Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Jennifer Clement, and Stefan Hertmans. With improvisations on cello by Ernst Reijseger. In Dutch and English.

  • Winternachten 2015 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    At the Home Front

    Is there still such a thing as "home" when you return after a war? How do you rebuild a life? How do you reconstitute a civilization? Ian Buruma wrote Year Zero: A History of 1945, about the immediate aftermath of WWII. Stefan Hertman's War and Turpentine describes World War I through the eyes of his grandfather. Both authors choose a notably personal approach; Buruma, too, used the experiences of a family member—his father—as motivation to delve into world history. How does it affect a story when the source is so close to home? Is it possible to reflect reality on the basis of a detail? David Van Reybrouck poses these questions to the authors. Louise O. Fresco starts off the programme with a commentary.