From January 14 – 19 of next year, the award-winning poet Ramsey Nasr will be in the UK as part of the “High Impact Literature Tour”:
The visiting writers are being billed as “low country literati,” and are “all prize-winners and best-sellers back home, all writing in Dutch but from two different countries – Belgium and the Netherlands. Now for the first time, and in a unique collaboration, six of the best Dutch-language storytellers are coming together for a rock star-style tour of 6 British cities – to perform for their British public and to discover what they may (or may not!) have in common.”
The non-Ramsey-Nasr literati are Lieve Joris, Herman Koch, Peter Terrin, Chika Unigwe, and Judith Vanistendael.
Nasr’s first English-language collection, Heavenly Life, came out from Banipal Books in 2010, trans. the incredible David Colmer, and was shortlisted for the prestigious Popescu.
About this collection, the judges said:
There is an exuberance and energy about these poems – poems for the voice and for performance, which nonetheless sit beautifully on the page and move easily between playfulness and a great humanity. Ramsey Nasr in David Colmer’s translation has a strong appeal to new generations of poetry readers.
From the opening of Nasr’s “The Subhuman and His Habitat,” also in the collection:
welcome to the land of milk and honey
where figalmondapricots grow
unmetaphorically on accommodating trees
eat of them and be my guest today
i’ll pay your taxi to the first roadblock
my father waits behind the second roadblock
he’ll make you his guest of honour too
with oil bread oregano sesame
stars press down upon his roof
sleep there and give him nadir’s love
Monday January 14:
Oxford: Blackwell’s Bookshop
(51 Broad Street Oxford, OX1 3BQ)
Tickets cost £3 and can be obtained by telephoning 01865 333623 or visiting the Customer Service Department, Blackwell Bookshop, Oxford.
Tuesday January 15:
Birmingham: The Anglican Cathedral, with Writing West Midlands
(Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2QB)
Tickets £8 / £5 concessions. Book online or call the Box Office on 0121 245 4455.
Wednesday January 16:
Thursday January 17:
Sheffield: St George’s Church Lecture Theatre, with the University of Sheffield
(17 Mappin Street Sheffield S1 4DT)
Entry is free, but registration is required.
Friday January 18:
Saturday January 19:
London: The Tabernacle
(35 Powis Square London W11 2AY). An evening of literature and music with the Low Countries Literati joined by UK writers with Dutch links – Tracy Chevalier & Deborah Moggach.
Tickets £10 / £8 concessions. Book online.
Reviews, excerpts, and more about Nasr:
From Susannah Tarbush, over at the Tanjara.
A biography, which says that Nasr “enjoys creating long, unfurling verses in which various voices resound, in which humour and tragedy coexist, and in which moralism is not eschewed.” Also, links to a number of his poems in Dutch and in English.
An Q&A with Nathalie Handal about the city of Antwerp, on Words Without Borders.