was successfully added to your cart.

Dutch Winning Poem What’s your Place?

Nederlandse winnaar Wat is jouw plek?

March 2, 2014

By Stan Mooij

Telephone Box

I didn’t have a telephone,
in Millet Steet
I phoned from a telephone box
in a corner outside
leaves told in circles

the granite floor
the torn books
the Bakelite receiver
covered in condensation
from those before me

my step inside
towards an outside world
behind the windows
the people waiting
someone seeing someone else

there it was frosty in winter
and too hot
in summer
in spring autumn leaves
were blown inside

when I slide my mobile
into my pocket
I weigh up once more
the sighing door
that ruled my life

© Stan Mooij
© Translation Holland Park Press

Report of the final judge

The quality of all the six shortlist Dutch poems was really high, making my choice of winner pretty challenging. I was struck by how a sense of nostalgia was the dominant atmosphere in many of the poems, as if the theme of ‘my place’ was synonymous with a quest for things past. The poet of  ‘Achter de dijk’ recalls ‘het rolletje snoep aan het einde van de week’, while in ‘Ansicht uit  Wyobraźnia’ the colliers are described as ‘door de dood vergeten’. These are fine, well-made poems and it’s clear that the subject has let loose a flood of memories. I liked the deliberate slow movement of the lines in ‘Foto van mijn oude straat’ where the poet searches in vain for warm mittens, ‘voor de duur van dit gedicht’; and there is an ominous Marsmannian close to ‘Achter de dijk’: ‘Achter de dijk stijgt het water’ – a peril that is archetypically Dutch. In the end I have chosen ‘Telefooncel’ as the winner, with ‘uit in Utrecht as the close runner-up. ‘uit in Utrecht’ impressed me with its emotional courage and vivid images – ‘hart van beschuit’. ‘Telefooncel’ however has beaten it by a head, perhaps because its choice of place is really subversive – a telephone box is no place – but also because the poet backs this choice up with a lyrical concision and a narrative that is hinted at, not spelled out in detail: ‘de ander die een ander had’. This is a playful poem that seems almost throwaway while actually saying a lot in a compact space.

Donald Gardner

Telefooncel

ik had geen telefoon, 
in de Milletstraat
belde ik in een cel
waar buiten in een hoek
het blad in cirkels vertelde

de granieten vloer
de gescheurde boeken
de bakelieten hoorn
waarop het condens lag
van wie mij voor was

mijn stap naar binnen
naar de wereld van buiten
achter de ruiten
de wachtende mensen
de ander die een ander had

waar het in de winter vroor
en het te heet was
in de zomer
in het voorjaar het herfstblad
naar binnen woei

als mijn mobiel
in mijn zak glijdt
weeg ik nog eenmaal
de zuchtende deur
die mijn leven bepaalde

© Stan Mooij

Report of the final judge

The quality of all the six shortlist Dutch poems was really high, making my choice of winner pretty challenging. I was struck by how a sense of nostalgia was the dominant atmosphere in many of the poems, as if the theme of ‘my place’ was synonymous with a quest for things past. The poet of  ‘Achter de dijk’ recalls ‘het rolletje snoep aan het einde van de week’, while in ‘Ansicht uit  Wyobraźnia’ the colliers are described as ‘door de dood vergeten’. These are fine, well-made poems and it’s clear that the subject has let loose a flood of memories. I liked the deliberate slow movement of the lines in ‘Foto van mijn oude straat’ where the poet searches in vain for warm mittens, ‘voor de duur van dit gedicht’; and there is an ominous Marsmannian close to ‘Achter de dijk’: ‘Achter de dijk stijgt het water’ – a peril that is archetypically Dutch. In the end I have chosen ‘Telefooncel’ as the winner, with ‘uit in Utrecht as the close runner-up. ‘uit in Utrecht’ impressed me with its emotional courage and vivid images – ‘hart van beschuit’. ‘Telefooncel’ however has beaten it by a head, perhaps because its choice of place is really subversive – a telephone box is no place – but also because the poet backs this choice up with a lyrical concision and a narrative that is hinted at, not spelled out in detail: ‘de ander die een ander had’. This is a playful poem that seems almost throwaway while actually saying a lot in a compact space.

Donald Gardner