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Poetry From the September 2011 issue: Homage


Du Fu

Du Fu

Du Fu says of himself that he was a child prodigy, that he was writing poetry when he was seven or eight years old. When he’s over forty, he will be a great poet. What he can think about, he can write about.

A child asks if something is important enough to think about.
Is this an excuse to get out of doing something else?
The other children are already at work.
Reading takes time, just like looking around.
Every word Du Fu uses, he read somewhere.
He remembers the meaning of words the way he knows what he’s writing about.
The words themselves as if they are the words that belong to what he’s writing about.
In the order that someone would say them out loud
if they were given all the words of the poem in one go.

Translation of "Du Fu." © Nachoem Wijnberg. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2011 by David Colmer. All rights reserved.

Du Fu zegt over zichzelf dat hij een wonderkind was, dat hij gedichten schreef toen hij zeven of acht jaar oud was. Als hij ouder dan veertig is wordt hij een groot dichter. Waarover hij kan denken kan hij schrijven.

Een kind vraagt of iets belangrijk genoeg is om over na te denken.
Is dit een excuus om iets anders niet te hoeven doen?
De andere kinderen zijn al aan het werk.
Lezen kost tijd, net als om je heen kijken.
Elk woord dat Du Fu gebruikt heeft hij ergens gelezen.
Hij herinnert zich de betekenis van een woord zoals hij weet waar hij over schrijft.
De woorden alsof het de woorden zijn van waar hij over schrijft.
In de volgorde waarin iemand ze zou uitspreken
als hij alle woorden van het gedicht tegelijk gekregen had.

© Nachoem Wijnberg




Nachoem M. WijnbergNachoem M. Wijnberg

Nachoem M. Wijnberg is one of the Netherlands' preeminent living poets. His debut De simulatie van de schepping (The Simulation of Creation, 1989) was nominated for the Buddingh' Prize, the most important prize for Dutch-language debut collections. He has won several other awards and was nominated for the VSB Poetry Prize, the greatest honour a Dutch-language poetry collection can receive. His most recent collection is Divan van Ghalib (Divan of Ghalib). In 2012 a book of English translations (by David Colmer) will be published by Anvil Press Poetry.

Translated from DutchDutch by David ColmerDavid Colmer

David Colmer is an Australian writer and translator who lives in Amsterdam. He is the author of a novel and a collection of short stories, both published in Dutch translation in the Netherlands, and the translator of more than twenty books: novels, children's literature, and poetry. He is a four-time winner of the David Reid Poetry Translation Prize and won the 2009 Biennial NSW Premier and PEN Translation Prize for his body of work. In 2010 his translation of Gerbrand Bakker’s Boven is het stil (The Twin) won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.