Rozalie Hirs

gestamelde werken (work in stuttering, 2012)

In her fifth poetry collection, work in stuttering, Rozalie Hirs embraces beauty in multiple ways of reading, a multiplicity of possibilities.

, ISBN: 978-90-214-4243-3
gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, The Netherlands, 2012)

“Hirs’ poetry intrigues me. Most of all she seems to be out on an investigation. And her investigations are a poetic adventure. Also for readers who are curious." Arie van den Berg, NRC

“As a poet, Rozalie Hirs is an impressionist who likes to show how her working process has unfolded. She writes sensitive verses that idiosyncratically try to bring about a connection between romanticism and mathematics.” Piet Gerbrandy, De Groene

“Her work immediately goes into the cosmic noise and calls for action in utter subjectivity. Watch, just as you are seen. Name, just as you are named. Create, just as you are created. And read like a creator: stammering.” Joost Baars, Poëzekrant

Gestamelde werken by Rozalie Hirs is the collection with the most bravura, because she dares to go furthest poetically speaking. She is one of the most intriguing Dutch poets of our times. Her poems are very sensitive and musical. She creates a broad stream of words, full of associations that she dares to interrupt. That is her way of stammering, which the title of the collection refers to. She writes most strikingly when she tries to articulate the chemistry of love in language.” Paul Demets, De Morgen

“By combining words differently, she at the same time articulates the common, the surprising, and the ecstatic aspects of sex. [...] The other cycles in the collection are far from common. The stars cycle is beautifully set with white letters on black pages. Indeed, the name of the book’s designer, Michael Snitker, should not go unmentioned, because this is a splendidly designed collection. Rozalie Hirs’s poems all find themselves somewhere between enchantment and alienation.” Ricco van Nierop, De Recensent

Contents

1. poems
1.1. a day 1-3
1.2. an angel
1.3. who put on my shoes

2. reviews
2.1. Piet Gerbrandy: A skin rock of water
2.2. Arie van den Berg
2.3. Reviews in Dutch [PDF]

3. digital poetry: sightbook of work in stuttering
3.1. alter ego 1 – Nicky Geneva, Blogger
3.2. alter ego 2 – Agatha van der Aa, YouTube
3.3. alter ego 3 – Diederik Lamme, Tumblr
3.1. alter ego 4 – Anna Sherman, Facebook
3.1. alter ego 5 – Paul Wittema, Twitter
3.1. alter ego 6 – Marc Thompson, Instagram

poems from gestamelde werken


a day

[1]

flying eyes with springy wings lights shed
on a map sketched in hands flaming wide-awake
I didn’t say that a breathless featherweight
nectar guide and pollen of living poppies blue
fields of cornflowers like heads popping out a one-eyed
cloudless sky that dreams emerge from
silkworms in thousands of yards
spinning languages on green-grey mulberry leaves covered
with hairs revealing threads come to meet
an amorous sun just like that uninvited or rain
stretching antennae for just a moment a touch
of unfolding wings towards what is (a day)

[2]

where do butterflies come from that invasion of springlike
sensitivity to light unbearable off-white spotted
wings woken from a dream night so early
a handful of morning dew drunk from shining
leaves of grass and a few hours that sounded like deep bells
in a village between non-specified mountains
where people live somewhere on earth harvest leaks and onions
in the crevices apples in an orchard and trees blossom
grapes burst for fermenting in stainless steel barrels
soon tantalize a nose the palate then
slide over the tongue as a foretaste of who tonight
in a few hours prelude to once more (a day)

[3]

is a country of kingfishers revealed in the window
then frost flowers crackle on warm breath towards lips
move like memories, loosened hair past clouds
paths not visited by spotted butterflies or the wind
a house the brushwood rainwater frozen in a roadside verge
earth vanishes under a white glittering expanse
wrapped in rays of light the same clouds sketch
again some mist past the chilly morning
flakes spring into the light an arching
of horizons lets shadows finger by finger
glide past trees wakeup repeat oneself
word for word a breathing into (a day)

(translation: Donald Gardner)

 
 


*

an angel crosses street meets a man
vanishes round the corner
when the angel and the man
have seen each other at least

appears on the scene the shining of eyes
a frenzied quest for downcast eyelids or
scraping up words off the floor shards of
an unfinished conversation until further enquiry
in imperfect tense as long as you live
and give way and give way
vanish at a blink of an eye

or a word from a maze of surrender
to what is promising or –
at any rate – available

fully conscious body
adrift

(translation: Donald Gardner)

 
 


who put on my shoes

[1 ]
 
there look at those wild-strawberry leaves purring a little
cat between thorns where a tree shakes its swaying antlers
by skeletal islands dry-as-dust wind
 
swift cuts a tail into two points punt drifts
riverbanks to my right-as-rain roses on hairpin legs
toes with thoughts and tongue in cheek clacking
 
the buds burst out of their husks happy to be alive I am
daybreak lilac when its bursting spray allows
and birch bark curls dance in wind

[2]

grass verges the edge of a field in marram grass peeled
gooseberries clover there leafage theft leaves its trees autumnal
a leggy horse runs in circles like a daft thing dances
 
through parched fields pulls out plough and root
drowns where boat strikes land with sail mast
along the path spotted woodpeckers wave for fourteen years
 
I wept come now come then stubbled morning
as we arrive at snowdrops lady’s mantle meadows
water green lilies whitish pearling earth

[3]

crazy about figs and lilies birds dipping
in a lake where sunlight blazes and screeching wind consumes earth
with rapidly scooped paper lightning-quick swept-up clouds
 
airy meadows white cut I came over light hills
and met with death who put on my shoes
in spring frost I walked off on bare feet
 
among evergreen pine groves through mudflats
waded through the tide to the sea bellying to my calves
remnants from ice aged wrinkled branch crackling
 
flower its buds letters bursting open seize the day
the night and endless waterways gleaming ribbons
through fields with nettles at my feet

[4]

that morning hoar frost so buds and buds the milky white sun
on roof tiles dancing rain along free ranging field path
caressed head and cheekbone olive branches
 
cradle ash tree branches then I leap with eiderdown out of bed
drink magnified water squamous dream bits
lost on air float down a path where coltsfoot hops
 
with trotting hoof prints I plant midnight feet
in the pale grey field covered with powdery snow
beside little duckweed boats adrift on the mire

[5]

with pomegranate leaves their scarlet hairs
I see loosestrife rooting through fields
weeds cuttings of horsetails a land full of may
 
moisten earth to sow spring ask mountains the time
not to be spun fine pale yellow plumed thistles not to come too close
pods float in ditches reflect white elderberry sprays
 
a smell wrapped in jasmine hats lost on air
speckled mossy green climb with daisy stalks
ladders along hair pupating into peacock butterflies

[6]

as if I could hear light falling through walls in a village
of trees reveal themselves an entire road close by
blossoming I entrusted water lilies and lotus
 
blindly to water in blazing sunlight first tines
follow limbs driven by wind directions ships
of bark murmuring pebbles in the beck roll slowly
 
towards dune rumbling past hovels grief charmed early floored
marsh flowers of hand-shaped parted leaves
I weave starry wreaths calyxes to drink from

[7]

in knuckles little daggers of burning larch needles
always stab red staggered tortoiseshells springing where
hogweed grows beside pale birch bark bees zoom
 
the moon its antics see flagellates springing nightingale
then I eat belladonna slimy frogs legs hop
in curling beck between the script of tiny scots pines
 
bellowing sea joy billowing honey streams of cotton grass
bones of verge grass batter against a hill beacons
in the distance ships understand mirroring each other to shards

(translation: Donald Gardner)

 
 

reviews


Piet Gerbrandy: A skinrock of water
De Groene Amsterdammer, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 31 October 2012

in knuckles little daggers of burning larch needles
always stab red staggered tortoiseshells springing where
hogweed grows beside pale birch bark bees zoom
 
the moon its antics see flagellates springing nightingale
then I eat belladonna slimy frogs legs hop
in curling beck between the script of tiny scots pines
 
bellowing sea joy billowing honey streams of cotton grass
bones of verge grass batter against a hill beacons
in the distance ships understand mirroring each other to shards

When looking at an impressionistic painting from a certain distance, one undergoes an explosion of color which still can be interpreted as a representation of reality. The painter employs a kind of fragmentation in order to create the impression of a larger whole. When you observe the canvas up close, you only see little dots, loose elements of which you scarcely can imagine that they may belong to a coherent unity. It is strangely paradoxical that so much technique is required in order to approach nature.

Rozalie Hirs (1965), also a prolific composer with a background in chemical engineering, is a poet who likes to reveal how her work comes about. Instead of merging splinters into a natural whole, she breaks unities down to sparkling shards. What remains is often a stuttering, yet not that of a desperate poet who is not able to word the unsayable. Hirs rather tries joyfully to factorize the sayable. Her poetry is contructed through and through, while her starting point often is an experience of the senses, reminding of the early Dutch poet Herman Gorter. She writes sensitive verses that ideosyncatically strive for a balance between romanticism and mathematics.

An important motif in gestamelde werken is the dawn of a new day, waking up to open your eyes for the light. In the first poem, the eyes set off into the morning like butterflies:

flying eyes with springy wings lights shed
on a map sketched in hands flaming wide-awake

In subsequent lines, poppies and cornflowers bloom and dreams are compared with silkworms that go to meet a sun in love. What they spin, however, is not silk but language. As soon as you try to see what it says on the level of words and word groups, you get lost, but if you read the poem out loud a few times, a convincing whole emerges, ‘for just a moment a touch/ of unfolding wings towards what is.’

The second series involves an intriguing process of dismantling and repeated assembly. The material is given by the opening poem.

it wants and will you against that tree there
look away from your stem blossoming pearls
wettest bath of seeds drink pastures
seven streams along the tabletop at once
meadowing our hands into a daredevil stairwell

Hirs makes groups of words and sentences flow into one another in such a way that a polysemous stream of language arises. Some lines further on, the human figure is strikingly described as a ‘skin rock of water’. We are at once solid and fluid. The same holds for the poems, thorough constructions that are as ungraspable as water.

[…]

Download PDF (Nederlands)
Online review (Nederlands)


Arie van den Berg: De rijpgrage bomen buigen>
NRC Boekenbijlage, The Netherlands, 4 January 2013

[…]

Hirs likes to go all the way, and thereby reaches for the highest points. She is a composer as well. Her best poems ‘sing’ and have a forceful melody. Ever since her debut collection from 1998, her development can be traced clearly.

If the poems in Locus (1998) and Logos (2002) seemed traditional when taken by themselves, already the second collection was conceptually organized. Logos is a through-composed opus about the human body. In reading poem by poem, you can escape the concept, but on the middle pages it is clear as daylight what the poet’s intentions are. There, a skinned body points to two- or three-letter codes referring to the alphabetically ordered poems in the collection. Here, I think, Hirs made use of the constructive achievements of her education in chemical technology and composition. It was the first impulse for three subsequent volumes of poetry of ideas. In [Speling] (2005) the concept was still very modest. On the first 39 pages, the poems grow, more or less regularly, one line at a time. Then the system falters, and finally the lines fall apart all across ten pages. In Geluksbrenger (2008) Rozalie Hirs made further strides towards disintegration, especially syntactically. Her poetry did no longer obey linguistic laws. Her lines escape the rules of language and started even to swarm about guided by the typesetter’s hand.

Gestamelde werken, too, finds Hirs toying with the rules of communicative language. Rather than in proclamation her message is in sound and the atmosphere that is evoked thereby. […] A happy example of that is offered by one of the shortest poems in the collection. […] In her longer poems, Hirs constructs such atmospheres in no less sonorous ways. […] Hirs’s poetry intrigues me. Her stammering may be constructed, most of all she seems to be out on an investigation. And her investigations are a poetic adventure. For readers who are also curious.

Download PDF (Nederlands)
Online review (Nederlands)


Paul Demets: Ladies’ time
De Morgen, Belgium, 16 January 2013
Download PDF (Nederlands)


Joost Baars: Poëzie voor scheppende lezers
Poëzekrant 7-8/12, Poëziecentrum, Gent, België, Amsterdam, 2 januari 2013
Download PDF (Nederlands)


Ricco van Nierop: Tussen wonderschoon en bevreemdend in
De Recensent, 10 October 2012
Online review (Nederlands)
Online podcast (Nederlands)

 

RozalieHirs: gestamelde werken (ontwerp & foto: Michaël Snitker)

 

digital poetry – sightbook of work in stuttering

The Belgian duo, Cox & Grusenmeyer, designers and visual artists, created six online personas for six poems or cycles from the collection gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012), by Rozalie Hirs. They let these six characters – or alter egos, as they call them – come alive on six different social networks. In choosing the poems, Cox & Grusenmeyer took their own reading experience as a starting point, their encounter with the poem in question. What does the poem speak of? How does it appear? How does it show itself? Does it speak slowly, quickly, loudly, in a singsong, awkwardly? Is it neutral in tone, aggressive, longing, lyrical or seductive? They chose very diverse poems or cycles and characterized their encounter with the poetry in catchwords. That way, they developed six very different characters for the poems, characters they made come alive on the social network that seemed to fit the character most closely. By way of the links below you can visit the characters and become part of Cox & Grusenmeyer’s reading experience.

All images were made especially for this project and are legally protected by copyright ©2012-2013 Cox & Grusenmeyer. The words shown in the images, photos, video and graphics are quotes from the poems by Rozalie Hirs. These concern the following six poems or cycles, all of which appear integrally: ‘lieve lente lacht’ (p.33), ‘vier de stameling’ (pp.52-53), ‘who put on my shoes’ 1-7 (‘die deed mijn schoenen aan’ 1-7; pp.54-61; English translation: Donald Gardner), ‘a no’ (‘een nee’; p.31; English translation: Donald Gardner), ‘long at present longing’ 0-6 (pp.16-23), ‘duizend en één pixel’ (p.36). The project received financial support from the Netherlands Foundation for Literature.


Sightbook: alter ego 1 – Nicky Geneva, Blogger

Visit Nicky Geneva’s blog

Zichtboek: Alter Ego 1 (Nicky Geneva, Blogger), Cox & Grusenmeyer op basis van het gedicht "Lieve lente lacht" uit de bundel gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012) door Rozalie Hirs


Sightbook: alter ego 2 – Agatha van der Aa, YouTube

Watch Agatha van der Aa’s videos on YouTube

Zichtboek: Alter Ego 2 (Agatha van der Aa, YouTube), Cox & Grusenmeyer op basis van het gedicht "Vier de stameling" uit de bundel gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012) door Rozalie Hirs


Sightbook: alter ego 3 – Diederik Lamme, Tumblr

Leaf through Diederik Lamme’s notebook on Tumblr

Zichtboek: Alter Ego 3 (Diederik Lamme, Tumblr), Cox & Grusenmeyer op basis van het gedicht "Who put on my shoes" uit de bundel gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012) door Rozalie Hirs


Sightbook: alter ego 4 – Anna Sherman, Facebook

Become friends with Anna Sherman on Facebook

Zichtboek: Alter Ego 4 (Anna Sherman, Facebook), Cox & Grusenmeyer op basis van het gedicht "A no" uit de bundel gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012) door Rozalie Hirs


Sightbook: alter ego 5 – Paul Wittema, Twitter

Follow Paul Wittema on Twitter

Zichtboek: Alter Ego 5 (Paul Wittema, Twitter), Cox & Grusenmeyer op basis van het gedicht "Duizend en één pixel" uit de bundel gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012) door Rozalie Hirs


Sightbook: alter ego 6 – Marc Thompson, Instagram

Follow Marc Thompson on Instagram

Zichtboek: Alter Ego 6 (Marc Thompson, Instagram), Cox & Grusenmeyer op basis van het gedicht "Long at present longing" uit de bundel gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012) door Rozalie Hirs