Lucebert – Collected Poems
Lucebert (1924-94) was one of the most influential innovators in twentieth-century Dutch poetry. He was a key figure in the Fiftiers Movement, a group of experimental poets who changed the face of Dutch literature in the years that followed World War II. Experimenting with abstract drawing and painting as well as with a new poetic mode, he maintained that both his language and his country were ‘ripe for a mild repetition of the Dadaist and expressionistic experiment’ of the early-twentieth-century European avant-garde.
The Fiftiers were associated with the painters and writers of the European CoBrA Movement and the Experimental Group Holland, established in 1948, all of whom, as the painter Constant put it in his manifesto, were ‘against the degenerate aesthetic concepts that had hindered the development of creativity in the past’. For the first time, a definitive break was made with the established art and literature of earlier times.
One defining characteristic of the revolutionary new poetry of the Fiftiers was an unbridled pleasure in language and a belief in its power and effectiveness. At the same time the new poetry aimed to present a reality stripped of all metaphysical certainty.
For Lucebert, this attitude could be summed up as an acute awareness of being ‘a breadcrumb on the skirt of the universe’ and it is in his work that we find the expression of a new sensibility at its most intense. Often hailed as the Emperor of the Fiftiers, Lucebert’s reputation as a poet grew and grew, culminating in his acceptance of the Dutch State Prize for Literature in 1983. Throughout his life he remained totally devoted to his drawing, painting and poetry.