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  • POET’S BIO

    To date, I have five collections of poetry in Dutch to my name. The most successful, Liefdesverklaring , ates from 1979 and was reprinted a year later, in 1980. Liefdesverklaring is normally translated as Declaration of love, but it can also mean explanation or explication of love, and the poems in the collection draw heavily on the ambiguity of the title.

    My poetry in Dutch can be qualified as neo-experimental and semi-classical, moving between the romantic sublime and a very specific, almost ironic kind of intellectualism. The influence of philosophy in my poems being clear and palpable, my latest collection, Kant-tekeningen, literally meaning Marginal notes, also refers to Kant and his aesthetic theory about parerga (ornaments, margins, etc...). This latter collection is a cross-fertilisation of lithography by Theo De Smedt and my own poetry. Work is being done to translate into English the final section of this collection, dedicated to Paul Celan.

    I am currently preparing a collection of poems which grew out of a collaboration with butoh dancer Emilie de Vlam and art photographer Benn Deceuninck.

    I have written poetry since I was 18 years old, back in 1964, occasionally also in English. In the next section, you will find a selection of these occasional poems. Some were written in the days when I had blended into the late 1960s hippie scene in Louvain. It was a time of great discovery. I was particularly influenced by the beat generation, especially Alan Ginsberg and William Burroughs. I translated Burroughs’s The Naked Lunch into Dutch. Unfortunately, the translation was never published for reasons of copyright.

    OCCASIONAL POEMS: AN ANTHOLOGY

    SOMETHING DREADFUL

    Oh I know sadness is old-fashioned
    I thought that love could be
    being an illustrious ram
    bright and wild of pleasure and delight
    but it was only
    wavering between the profit and the loss
    death and life flesh and ground
    maybe it was laughing and crying
    at the same time
    and sometimes shocking
    and surely dreadful

    Oh I know sadness is old-fashioned
    I thought that love would be
    touching the golden rain
    with hands full of seaweed
    and having hearts warm bleeding
    as the sunshine did
    when the earth raised her thighs
    and nine months later
    Adam was born
    and the snow melted into Adam
    and he laughed laughed haha!
    while Eve bore sadness Eve bore sadness
    time and again she bore sadness
    a little late but quite enough

    1965

    COSMO-SENSE

    During a day of common sense
    I saw softheaded human beings looking electronic
    And I saw very bodily changes oh yes

    Swimming in the queenlips
    Of an exploding galaxy I met Ghandi
    Drinking goatmilk and whispering
    “Oh mudheaded cosmos do not disturb me,
    I opt for peace!”

    1969

    THE HOLY COMPANY

    to Leonard Cohen

    I sat up in bed and stared at the wall
    from where the cashmere patterns
    were beckoning me

    I wrote in green sluggish ink
    a petition to my consciousness

    And all of a sudden I was surrounded
    by laughing albinos

    They cut out the patterns which I ate
    one by one to dandify my inner-space

    Afterwards I slept four days
    I awoke with a redbreast on my neck
    while beautiful roses or words
    (I couldn't identify) fell from my mouth
    as so many members of the same
    holy company

    1969

    THE STREETS OF CALCUTTA

    What remains to be said
    will fly away
    in naked dreams
    and unsaid memories.

    Words don’t fit anymore
    to express
    the unspeakable desire
    the sorrow
    in the streets of Calcutta.

    But this is a night to count on
    because the moon will beg
    the dying sun
    to scream the words
    that will set us free
    all night long.

    1994

    ART AND SUSTAINABILITY

    To paint ideas with a supreme smile,
    Full of irony and destiny.
    To write down one’s own exile,
    In art and sustainability.

    What if art would be for a while,
    An instrument of liberty,
    A way to bestow and reconcile
    Body and mind indefinitely? 

    What if there would be a style,
    Full of inherent musicality,
    Which tunes us back in due time,
    To nature’s spontaneity?

    No word has ever been fertile,
    No one ever kissed the dignity,
    In which black and white are alike,
    Except in art’s own vulnerability.

    Antwerp, 2001

    BREAKTHROUGH

    Why I see beyond the dazzling
    The stony handwriting in the phony screens
    Of man’s destiny.

    Why I see
    Through the pixels of illusion
    Lost men kissing the spiderwoman
    Not out of anxiety
    But animated by lust and sheer conviction.

    What a prelude to humanity’s crazy love
    And New Years Eve’s
    Somewhat belated loneliness!

    2004

    READING KANT

    Reading Kant
    I hear all of a sudden
    The sound of a bird passing
    In my garden
    The voice of a friend
    Slowly disappearing in the wind.

    I am alone in the world.
    I am happy.
    And I think of you.

    2005

    SYLVESTER SONG

    I walked through Japan
    And Japan walked through me.

    I walked though your body
    And your body walked through me.
       
    I walked to the moon
    But the moon was hiding
    All night long.

    The blue moon
    I kissed her unknown shadow
    On your queen-like lips
       
    And I heard the blues inside me
    All night long.

    2007

    UNKNOWINGLY

    They were twin philosophers
    Who learned to think twice
    To dream in words forgotten
    To cry with a silent mind.

    But at Christmas they were baptized
    Time and again
    And told the same old story
    With all the devotion
    The world dreamed of since eternity.

    2007

    WRITING

    Writing
    Until the silence speaks
    In bones and veins, retreats
    Into the blessed body
    Scattered through the fragments
    The remains of yesterday

    Writing
    As an impulse of the nerves
    Praying speaking laughing
    Beyond the walking clichés
    Kissing the back bones
    Of barefoot memories

    Writing
    Till we become the endless circle
    The great chain of being
    The blooming of virtual love
    In the games of spleen and melancholy
    Becoming at last as real as burning trees

    Writing
    To declare the war on war
    To meet and kiss
    The beloved flowers in the lost streets
    The inner circles of eternity.

    2007

    THE SECRET

    I myself and you as illustrious wannabe
    Stoned from Fakahatchee to the sea
    We were lost forever except to see
    The growing tragedy meant to be.

    And still there is the voice in between
    Dreaming in a pub in old Aberdeen
    Unveiling with unspeakable spleen
    The mind’s eye of a galactic queen.

    Neither this nor that not even eternity
    It cannot be met except indifferently
    It can only be touched unknowingly
    Unspeakable desire of all humanity.

    2009

    Antoon Van den Braembussche