Beautifully translated from the Dutch by David Colmer, the IMPAC Award-winning translator of Gerbrand Bakker’s The Twin, Hugo Claus’s poems are remarkable for their dexterity, intensity of feeling, and acute intelligence. From the richly associative and referential “Oostakker Poems” to the emotional and erotic outpouring of the “mad dog stanzas” in “Morning, You,” from his interpretations of Shakespeare’s sonnets to a modern adaptation of a Sanskrit masterpiece, this volume reveals the breadth and depth of Claus’s stunning output. Perhaps Belgium’s leading figure of postwar Dutch literature, Claus has long been associated with the avant-garde: these poems challenge conventional bourgeois mores, religious bigotry, and authoritarianism with visceral passion.
“Astonishing. There is a richness of feeling, exactness of imagery, tender skepticism of the body and its wants—I found myself thinking of Donne, Sterne, Cendrars, Bukowski, and Céline all at once. Colmer’s translation is uncanny, feels as if every word is the one the poet intended. Yes, here it is! Hugo Claus, a permanent part of our poetic landscape, opened at last.” — Robert Kelly
"Claus's work has been called a cosmos in its own right ... Yet this Promethean artist [with] his Burgundian exuberance and prolixity ... is, like W. B. Yeats, capable of stunning simplicity." --The Independent
"Marked by an uncommon mix of intelligence and passion, in a medium over which Claus has such light-fingered control that art becomes invisible. These poems' verbal concentration, intensity of feeling, and intellectual range bring their author into the first rank of European poets of the late 20th century." -- J. M. Coetzee
"Nobody could write so rampantly about the wild veracity of sensual love for women and life than Hugo Claus. To read him is to be shot into verbal ecstasy. Fortunately these translations do justice to so much of this." — Antjie Krog
"The greatest writer of my generation. " -- Remco Campert, winner of the P. C. Hooft Prize for Poetry
“Hugo Claus is counted among the international greats of post-war literature. . . . [and he] was and remains the king of Flemish letters . . . Colmer always opts to render the vitality and the natural power of the language rather than slavishly copying the rhymes, alliterations, and meanings.” – AGENDA, in Brussel Deze Week