The musical poetry of Geluksbrenger (Amsterdam: Querido, The Netherlands, 2008) by Rozalie Hirs is constructed along the line of a ‘counterpoint’. Within a poem, Hirs seems to be stacking different poems on top of each other, processing them, splicing them, mixing them, shaking them, letting them flow into one another. And this is one single motion. In one breath. In sustained breath.
What is striking about [Speling], the third poetry book by Rozalie Hirs, is its strong composition: the collection opens with a one-line poem about dreaming and thought. With each consecutive poem, the poems’ length increases by one line until the whole has grown into a pathway, a poem that fills the entire page, to finally explode into the showpiece of In LA, a text spanning many pages. The reader moves within the leeway (which how the Dutch title [speling] could be translated) between dreaming and thinking, words and lines. The first sentence introduces the elements for the rest of the collection. Hirs is looking for the moments in which experience is no longer restricted to the single body, but extends itself to the other or even to the entire world.
Logos, Rozalie Hirs’ second collection of poems, has the reader traveling through the human body. Inside the book there is an anatomical drawing, made by artist Noëlle von Eugen, by which the reader can navigate through the collection. The logos of the title might refer to the laws of the body, with which we find ourselves confronted in the world. But also to thought, the imagination, and the word. In the many love poems, the beloved turns out to be a human being of flesh and blood, and at the same time, language.
In her first collection, Locus, Rozalie Hirs plays with identities. The poems are new monologues by characters from Greek mythology, philosophy and the Christian tradition. Additionally, we come across references to films and theatre plays: the poem Man bites Dog for instance is a reference to the 1992 Belgian film of the same name, the mockumentary Man Bites Dog (C’est arrivé près de chez vous), and the poem Lucifer refers to the play of the same title by Joost van den Vondel from 1654. In most of these poems, Hirs presents her archetypical characters in critical situations and lets them tell their version of the story. Most of these poems deal with taking decisions and with the ambiguity of the situation with which we find ourselves confronted in the world.