Ramsey Nasr - Heavenly Life
Holland’s current Poet Laureate, its youngest to date, enjoys creating long, unfurling verses in which several voices resound and humour and tragedy coexist. He is not afraid of taking a moral stance. Nasr is a man of many trades, but poetry, rooted in both music and history, is at the centre of his work. His poems and essays plead passionately for a cosmopolitan, open-minded view of man and the human condition.
About his country and his task as Poet Laureate, he says: ‘The Netherlands is extremely preoccupied with reinventing itself, and I think that a poet can be of some help in that, not by giving the answers, but by raising questions. I myself find it interesting to reflect on Dutch identity. Dutch people: who are they?’
Ramsey Nasr is a prize-winning poet, essayist, dramatist and actor. His first collection, 27 Poems & No Song (2000), was followed by the novella Captain Sourpuss and the Two Cultures (2001) and Two Libretti (2002). In the spring of 2004 he published his second book of poetry, awkwardly flowering, which went through several reprints and won him the Hugues C. Pernath Prize.
He was appointed city poet of Antwerp in 2005 and elected Dutch Poet Laureate in 2009. Most of the poems he has published since his debut are collected in Between Lily and Hydrogen Bomb – The Early Years (2009), and in English translation in Heavenly Life (Banipal Books, 2010).
‘He reaches the hearts of his readers precisely by avoiding pretentiousness and sentimentality. The song has returned, it resounds in his poems. What a voice!’ – Elsevier
‘Multifaceted, virtuosic, irreverent and polymath. His poems, in every form and register from sonnet to Whitmanian tirade, do not balk at history.’ – Marilyn Hacker