Willem Jan Otten
(c) Mark Kohn
One of Willem Jan Otten’s (1951) favourite books is Pinocchio. The themes from this story are often reflected in his own work: creativity, shame and forgiveness. As an author, Otten is a jack-of-all-trades. He writes poetry, prose, plays, essays and criticisms, and has won many awards. He was awarded the Constantijn Huygens Prize for his entire oeuvre in 1999 and five years later, the P.C. Hooft Prize for his reflective prose. Otten made his debut as a poet in 1973 with the collection Een zwalus vol zaagsel (A Swallow of Sawdust). Following on from this, he was, among other things, the editor of the literary journal Tirade and for a period of time he worked as a theatre and music critic for Vrij Nederland. His latest collection is called Genadeklap (Final Blow) (Van Oorschot, 2018).
“Otten is a personal poet: his wife, his father, his children and friends all make an appearance in ‘Genadeklap’, which is the name of his latest collection. (…) They are poems that you must immerse yourself in as Otten’s storytelling talent, imagery and powerful poetic voice cannot be denied.” Janita Monna in Trouw.