Hans C. ten Berge
Known primarily as a poet, Dutch-born Hans C. ten Berge has also published prose fiction, essays, and translations.
Born in Holland Christmas 1938, he has spent long periods in Eastern Europe as well as in North and Central America (Greenland, Canada, Texas, Mexico). He was founder and sole editor of the literary quarterly Raster (Grid) from 1967-1973. The Secret of a Cheerful Mood brought him the Multatuli-Prize. In 1996 he was awarded the prestigious Huygens-Prize for his entire oeuvre. In 2006 he received the P.C. Hooft-Prize, the highest award for literature in The Low Countries.
The poet’s early work was marked by a bare, concise diction, a language pared down to essentials, evoking powerful sentiments while avoiding sentimentality. His later work is more fluent and melodious, more overtly personal, intent on combining innovative and traditional elements, lyrical and intellectual impulses.
His poems are usually grouped into cycles in which different voices and viewpoints combine to form multi-layered narrative sequences. It ranges widely in scope and theme, and incorporate a variety of historical and literary references.
Materia Prima contains Ten Berge’s collected poems up to 1993. Cantus Firmus, poems 1993-2013, was published in 2014.
The openness to the outside world which marks Ten Berge’s poetry is apparent also in his numerous translations. Apart from renderings into Dutch of a selection of Ezra Pound’s Cantos and of contemporary fellow poets – Kenneth White, Christopher Middleton, Mark Strand, Gary Snyder, Nathaniel Tarn, Robert Hass, Xavier Villaurrutia and Gunnar Ekelöf among them – they include texts well outside the Western tradition, from Japanese Nō-plays and episodes from The Tale of Genji to Aztec sacral and secular hymns. His work in the ethnological field culminated in a three-volume annotated collection of Myths and Fables of Northern Peoples (NW Coast Indians, Inuit/Eskimo and Siberian peoples).