Sasja Janssen ( Netherland)
Sasja Janssen is a poet, novelist and short story writer. Her novel De kamerling (The eunuch) was published by Querido in 2001, followed by Teresa zegt (Teresa says) in 2005. From 2006 she primarily has written poetry, which has been published in the collections Papaver (2007); Wie wij schuilen (Whom we shield; 2010), Ik trek mijn species aan (I put on my species; 2014), nominated for the prestigious VSB Poetry Prize, followed in 2017 by Happy. Her poetry got brilliant reviews.
Janssen performs at several national and international poetry festivals. She teaches poetry writing, and is a teacher of Dutch as a second language.
Papaver (Poppy), Querido, Amsterdam, 2007
Wie wij schuilen (Whom we shield), Querido, Amsterdam, 2010
Ik trek mijn species aan (I put on my species), Querido, Amsterdam, 2014
Happy (Happy), Querido, Amsterdam, 2017
De kamerling (The eunuch), Querido, Amsterdam, 2001
Teresa zegt (Teresa says), Querido, Amsterdam, 2005
Just used words until today, but were forced
to stop that, the windows steaming up with our yeast
through the grabbling, the falling, the tender, the nauseous
the sweet, the fleshly, bluish dangling round each other’s neck.
We have sung us. We have us for the very first time.
From: I put on my species, from the cycle ‘I am my sex’, Querido, 2014, translator: Willem Groenewegen
Putting on my species
I was born from a dot at nine one morning
the first morning possible because it didn’t come
out of night, it coloured from a bright fuchsia to a sulphurous yellow
I still remember that.
The right one, the right sharpness and size, made by
someone handed a 9H, briefly transfixed
they called her God apart from me.
A horrible first, but I finally stopped
being no one.
I wore a swaddling cloth that would become a shroud
it’s impossible, yet it is so.
Not far from here I became a dot again, the only one
but a weaker one, perhaps made by a 9B by that same
person, she corked me back into myself, the cottons continuing to
give off scent in my wardrobe.
I believed things happened simultaneously.
Could be the species I had to put on, could be the movement
could be the happiness or craziness or both, rain with sunshine.
I believed it had to snow, thought behind it
and I grew into my own test card
deceptively identical, like any other’s.
I was instantly good at living and predicted what would happen next.
When love came not even in the guise
of a young angel I forgot my dot and caught fire, yellow
a fuchsia heart.
Then I forgot about forgetting, naked like a single rose.
After that I took off my species, to see if I was empty
to see if I dared to, drained of blood I dared.
The others stared at the way I was, that there was nothing
left of me, should there be a remnant of me or something
I was instantly less good at living, you shouldn’t take off what
you can hardly get on, back into the cast became shapeless.
From: I put on my species (Querido, 2014), translation Michele Hutchinson
The ballad of the home help 1
I close the curtains like a body bag, swipe the slender
cigarette tubes off the bed, cut-flower green the covers
that spark up easily, it has to be done at once.
It has to be done, the slowness, my childish hand between her
legs and I laugh along with her because it’s worse for me,
I’ve been hired to help, I won’t be dead in a day or two.
In the afternoon she gets me back when the tubes
come flowing out of me and I see to the man whose daughters
emerge from the sea because he is dying.
Again them lamenting their mother who shares her bed
with others, the sisters married to strangers,
I hide in the hall with the hoover.
From Happy (Querido, 2017), translation Michele Hutchinson