JOB DEGENAAR (Netherlands)

JOB DEGENAAR (Netherlands)

Job Degenaar published poetry, prose and essays about literature, art and culture in many national and international magazines, anthologies and newspapers. He translated, among other things, lyrics from Paul McCartney, Reiner Kunze and persecuted writers, and edited various anthologies as an editor. But above all, he is a poet. His poetry is characterized as “clear, with a hint of mystery.” More than a dozen collections of poems were published by him in the Netherlands, as well as an anthology of his work in Poland and a trilingual edition (German-English-Dutch) in Germany. His latest book is Hertenblues (Deer Blues), second edition 2018.
He has been a board member of PEN Netherlands for 10 years and since 2017 he is the president of PEN Emergency Fund (, a worldwide operating fund for writers in direct need.

For more information, visit his website:


So this is summer

So this is summer
the widower thinks
of the thrush caught by the cat
when he hastily is hiding
under bushes

So this is summer, this vibrating sand
of bodies, where the sun
sears its pilgrims against rotting
the patron saint thinks
in his ecclesiastical coolness

So this is summer, falters autumn, silent
the cupboard spider, wedges flying through rooms
cats yawning in aisles, meadows flowing
green through windows, heading waves surfers
to each other, eyes wandering to bikini girls

However, it is summer, so by evening
also the widower like a nice thought
spreads his wings open
flies into a tree, watching
darkness and honours the day

Translation: Hannie Rouweler
Taken from: Dus dit is zomer (1998)



Letting the day go by until
it became night and in the fruit bowl
the forgotten tangerine withered

in the distance the city glowed,
igniting on its own

what was alive in icy fields
crawled into cocoons, raised
prickles against the stars

Only the diamond sky-hunters
cutting silently into granite
took us along, struck us off

until morning brought us bread
and words, as birds did twigs

Translation: Willem Groenewegen
Taken from: Huisbroei (2003)



Wholeheartedly lived against death
till something unexpected mirrors you
for instance in a poem, so

fragile that you never thought
that it existed
That wrings itself

through all your pores, rises
from the paper and
looks at you like a doe

That is a homecoming:
to see who you are
in this moment

Translation: Annmarie Sauer
Taken from: Vluchtgegevens (2011)


Girl on her way to the textile mill

Some kids never get to be kids
a fact we seemingly concede

for centuries they’ve been used
abused like animals

The world doesn’t stop
when in the early morning

a small girl walks to the factory
to spin the web of her miserly life

unable to extricate herself from it
in vibrant colours

while we on the sunny side of the earth
blindly turn our backs

to the shady sides
like hers

Translation: Trevor Scarse
Published on the website of RIXT (Frisian poets), Summer 2019


Orpheus on the Breton coast

On an idle afternoon,
when my lyre was hanging on the willows,
I ripped off tens of mussels,
threw them alive in boiling local wine,
destroyed a lobster with a tongs
and speared snails out of their bunkers

heroically my hands soaked
afterwards in lemon juice

That night I rowed on the sea and came
into a gully that took me to the Styx

Hades, with a soft heart, gave me another
chance to fetch Eurydice –

If only I had looked round
– she was already almost above ground –
at the nymph that passed me

the first rays of the sun just caught
Poseidon’s sardonic look of triumph

Translation: Hans van den Bos & Hilary Reynolds
Taken from: De helderheid van morgens (1992)

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