Gerrit Komrij

      latest update 13th February, 2004 (click for Dutch version)

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Although he now resides in Portugal, Gerrit Komrij was born on 30th March 1944 in Winterswijk in a chicken coop, where his parents were hiding out during the latest air raid. Besides being a poet, he is a novelist, critic, polemicist, essayist, translator, playwright and anthologiser. On (Dutch) National Poetry Day 2000 he was declared Poet Laureate 2000-2005.

He unexpectedly handed in his resignation as Poet Laureate on National Poetry Day (29th January) 2004, a year before his term in office was to officially end. The reason for stepping down was simply that he 'had had enough'. Dutch daily poetry newspaper Rottend Staal Online has announced a by-election to instate a new Poet Laureate as soon as possible. His or her term in office will last until the next Poet Laureate is announced on 27th January 2005.

He studied general and comparative West European literature at the University of Amsterdam and made his debut in 1968 with the volume Maagdenburgse halve bollen en andere gedichten. (Magdeburg hemispheres and other poems) He was, amongst others, contributor to Vrij Nederland magazine and newspaper NRC Handelsblad and an editor of literary magazine Maatstaf. He initiated the Poetry Club and the poetry magazine Awater.
© foto: Henk Veenstra, 2001

In 1979 Komrij published his anthology De Nederlandse poëzie van de negentiende en twintigste eeuw in duizend en enige gedichten (Dutch poetry of the nineteenth and twentieth century in a thousand-and-some poems), which has been reprinted and revised regularly (the new edition, titled Dutch poetry of the 19th, 20th and 21st century and two thousand-and-some poems, is set to appear in January 2004) and is regarded as the standard anthologised overview of contemporary Dutch poetry. "The book provoked – rare in the Dutch arena – a discussion about literary tradition", Leiden professor in modern literature Ton Anbeek said. "Komrij displayed a predilection for playful, ironic verses. He had little appreciation for the successors of the Fifties generation, yet was able to present countless interesting poems from the nineteenth century that the experts had overlooked. This suddenly turned that 'proper and boring' age into a mistakenly neglected period."

In 1999 he then also published the anthology De Afrikaanse poëzie in 1000 en enige gedichten (African poetry in a thousand-and-some poems), a selection from 350 years of (South) African poetry.


In collaboration with 'Uitgeverij 521' Komrij edits the Sandwich series, in which he manifests himself as the discoverer of new talent and forgotten or neglected poets. From November 2002 the series started a run of twenty different numbered and bound volumes.

This Sandwich series is aimed at lovers of poetry who wish to be surprised by Komrij's choice and so acquaint themselves with poets they wouldn't have heard of otherwise. Work that for many is unattainable (the so-called forgotten poets) are now made available to a larger audience. Alongside this work, poets making their debut in the Sandwich series can now show a wide audience what talent there is in the Dutch-speaking world.

Komrij availed himself of the pseudonyms Gerrit Andriesse, Joris Paridon, Mr. Pennewip and Griet Rijmrok.

Why not browse for some more information about Gerrit Komrij?


NRC Handelsblad-dossier 'Dichter des Vaderlands (registration obligatory)
Bibliografie en wetenswaardigheden, (bibliography) by Mats Beek
Komrij als tv-criticus, by Martin van Amerongen
Dichter op het scherm - project by Komrij, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Poetry International, NRC Handelsblad and the Letterkundig Museum to transfer thirty of the most influential Dutch poets from the Middle Ages online.


The poetry prize of Amsterdam 1970 for Alle vlees is als gras of het knekelhuis op de dodenakker.
Cestoda prize 1975 for applying the Dutch language to all genres without apparent effort.
Busken Huet prize 1979 for Papieren tijgers.
Herman Gorter prize 1982 for De os op de klokketoren.
Kluwer-prijs 1983 for the way in which he handles the Dutch language in his entire oeuvre.
P.C. Hooft-prijs 1993 for beschouwend proza voor zijn gehele oeuvre. - for essayistic prose and his entire oeuvre.
Gouden Uil 1999 for In liefde bloeyende. (a lenghty series of newspaper articles about poetry)

On 8th February 2000 Gerrit Komrij received an honorary doctorate from the university of Leiden.


Dutch Literary Productions and Translations Foundation
Mr Bas Pauw:
Singel 464
1017 AW  Amsterdam
The Netherlands
tel.: +31 (0)20.620.62.61
fax: +31 (0)20.620.71.79

Sebes & Van Gelderen - Publicity & Creative Support
Kerkstraat 301
1017 GZ  Amsterdam
Tel. +31 (0)20 616.09.40
Fax. +31 (0)20 618.08.43

Uitgeverij De Bezige Bij
Van Miereveldstraat 1
1071 DW Amsterdam
Tel: +31-(0)20-3059810
Fax: +31-(0)20-3059824


This page is part of the daily poetry newspaper: Rottend Staal Online

© translation Willem Groenewegen / Rottend Staal Online 2003. All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission. No paragraph of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted save with written permission or in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
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