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Kreek Daey Ouwens

The Netherlands

Kreek Daey Ouwens (1942) made her début at 44-years-old with a story in the journal Hollands Maandblad. The poet wrote when she was younger, but as she says, “I never did anything with it, or dared to.” However, her poems, which can be categorised as somewhere between poetry and prose, were very successful. In 2013 Daey Ouwens received the Leo Herberghs poetry prize and her collection De achterkant (The Reverse) was nominated for the VSB Poetry Prize. In 2017 her most recent collection hit the shelves: Oefening in het alleenlopen (Practising Walking Alone) was released by the publisher De Wereldbibliotheek. Her poetry is characterised by a fragmentary structure and the merging of memory and imagination. Each poem is a short story in itself.

“Kreek Daey Ouwens needs less than one adjective for you to sense the atmosphere or love of the lack of it: ‘Mamma naait een kille rok.’ (Mamma is icily sewing a skirt.) The world appears so innocent, yet it is becoming even bigger and less safe, and language plays an important role in this. The young protagonist gradually discovers the ineffectiveness, but also the power of language: ‘De woorden uitspreken verandert niets / aan de woorden zelf. Het verandert iets aan / de mensen. (Saying the words out loud changes nothing / about the words themselves. It changes something about / the people.)’ “ Janita Monna in Trouw.