Dutch poet and author Remco Campert has died aged 92, his publisher De Bezige Bij announced on behalf of the family.
Campert was part of the 1950s movement of experimental poets, writers and artists which included Rudy Kousbroek, Lucebert, Gerrit Kouwenaar and Karel Appel.
“There is a lyricism that we are abolishing,” said the Vijftigers, and with Campert this was reflected in a playful use of language and in the deceptive simplicity of his poems, which put his translators to the test.
Campert’s breakthrough came with Het leven is vurrukkulluk (“Life is Splendid”) which he wrote in 1961. It is the story of a group of teenagers in Amsterdam who, although set in the sixties, are still affected by the Second World War , like much of his work. Campert’s father, Jan Campert, a poet and member of the resistance, died at the Neuengamme concentration camp in 1943 when his son was very small.
In Tjeempie! from Liesje to Luiletterland, who sees the faux naive Liesje visiting famous Dutch authors thinly disguised in search of erotic fulfillment, he has invented his own spelling.
Campert, who lived for many years in Paris, won numerous literary awards, including the Jan Campert Prize named after his father.
He won the prestigious PC Hooftprijs for his Complete Poems in 1976. Campert had struggled with writer’s block but managed to shake it off by writing Somberman’s actie, about his alter ego Somberman (“the dark man”) who is crippled by alcoholism and lethargy.
He then went to the theater with former footballer and columnist Jan Mulder, and the two wrote a popular column together in the Volkskrant until 2006.
In 2018, Campert, then 88, announced that he would no longer write. “He is old and tired and has written enough,” wrote his editor at the time.
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