Willem Jan Otten
(Amsterdam, 1951) writes poems, prose, plays, reviews and essays. The Constantijn Huygens Prize for his entire oeuvre is only one of many awards for his work, which, in translation, has reached readers in Italy, France, Germany and Sweden. Otten knows how to touch upon socially sensitive issues, like pornography in his essay Denken is een lust (Thinking is a lust, 1985), euthanasia in the novel Ons mankeert niets, (We're all right, 1994) and catholicism in his pamphlet Het wonder van de losse olifanten (The miracle of the loose elephants, 1999). He made his poetic debut with Een zwaluw vol zaagsel (A swallow stuffed with sawdust, 1973), which won him the Reina Prinsen Geerligs Prize. For the collection Ik zoek het hier (I seek it here, 1980) he received the Herman Gorter Award, for Paviljoenen (Pavillions, 1992) the Jan Campert Award, while the collection Eindaugustuswind (End of August wind, 1998) earned him a nomination for the VSB Poetry Award. He was again nominated for that prize with his eleventh anthology, Gerichte gedichten (Targeted Poems) as it raises issues such as 'loss, emptiness and inescapable existential questions'.(WU 2012 GR)
Archive available for: Willem Jan Otten
Days before the announcement of the winner of the VSB Poetry Award, the five nominees read at the festival. Peter Ghyssaert, Jan Lauwereyns, Willem Jan Otten, Erik Spinoy and Anne Vegter will recite their work. The VSB Poetry Award is being organised by our colleagues from Poetry International in Rotterdam. In Dutch.
Commenting on his speach earlier this evening, Willem Jan Otten shows how his favourite films strive to reveal nothing . Films consist of images, but the truth does not. How does the indescribable become visible, how does the unreal become an image and still remain unbelievable. With the help of Steven Spielbergs Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade , The Japanese film maker Yasujiko Ozu, Robert Bresson and the film Smoke , the crucial question will be asked again: what does 'Thou shall not make images' mean. Does it make sense in these times to think about a state of 'imagelessness'?
In the beginning there was the image, and the image was with God and the Word was Willem Jan Otten's. In an opening speech, especially written for Winternachten, the poet, writer, essayist and playwright gives his vision of this Winternachten theme: word versus image. Cabaret artist Freek de Jonge is the first to give a reaction. Michaël Zeeman leads the following discussion about worshipping and rejection of word and image.