Now available in the US: Cees Nooteboom‘s “Roads to Berlin” (Maclehose Press) and “Light Everywhere” (Seagull Press).
Roads to Berlin
Roads to Berlin maps the changing landscape of Germany, from the period before the fall of the Wall to the present. Written and updated over the course of several decades, an eyewitness account of the pivotal events of 1989 gives way to a perceptive appreciation of its difficult passage to reunification.
Nooteboom’s writings on politics, people, architecture and culture are as digressive as they are eloquent; his innate curiosity takes him through the landscapes of Heine and Goethe, steeped in Romanticism and mythology, and to Germany’s baroque cities. With an outsider’s objectivity he has crafted an intimate portrait of the country to its present day.
Light Everywhere is a collection of poems, selected by Nooteboom himself from more than a dozen Dutch books. The poems are presented in reverse chronological order, reflecting the poet’s contemporary perspective on the productivity of more than half a century. The anthology covers his poetic output up to 2013, with an emphasis on his more recent work. New translations of older poems are crafted by award-winning translator David Colmer, lending consistent voice to the whole collection.
When Nooteboom began writing poetry in the Netherlands in 1956, he was considered an outcast for not abiding by the conventional experimental style popular at the time. Instead he took to learning from poets abroad, translating work by Wallace Stevens, Eugenio Montale, and Pablo Neruda. Nooteboom’s work is lucid and mysterious, evocative and elusive, and it is fitting that the collection begins and ends with poems of travel, moving back in time from an elderly man’s entanglement and resignation to the detachment and harsh light of youth, with everything in between.
Cees Nooteboom (b. 1933 in The Hague) is best known in the English-speaking world for his acclaimed novels, essays, and travel writing; however, Nooteboom has always seen himself first and foremost as a poet. He has said, “without poetry my life would be unthinkable.” Nooteboom has won various literary awards.