Laurens van der Zee (1948) is a writer of poetry and short stories and a musician. Next to being an artist he is an anthropologist and works free-lance as a public information officer on UNESCO. His debut as a writer was in 1972 in Avenue Literair, after which he went on to work on various publications, sometimes in collaboration with Carel Helder and Mick van Gilswijk. With them Laurens shares a love of the absurd, but other works of his could be qualified as romantic or contemplative. Which means that when he gives readings from his own work he appeals alternately to the laughers or the weepers…
In 2003 he co-founded the Uitgeverij Nestor publishing house with Mirjam Janse. Recent examples of his work can be found in the following publications that have appeared since then: Nestor: geen wonder (Nestor: no wonder – 2003), De Vliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman – 2003), Het meisje met het gouden haar (The girl with the golden hair – 2004), Licht in mijn oren (Light in my ears – 2004), and Dit gaan we doen! (This is what we’re gonna do! – 2006/2007). He also publishes in Poëziepuntgl, a three-monthly journal of poetry in the province of Gelderland, and in the Light Scheurkalender 2005, a poetry-calendar published by Nijgh & Van Ditmar.
Sometimes he gives readings from his own work, for instance during the Dichter* bij Wageningen annual poetry evening held in the Public Library in Wageningen. He has opened exhibitions in various places including Zaandam, Amsterdam and Wageningen. One of his poems has been included in the Poetry Route along the Wittenkade in Amsterdam’s Staatsliedenbuurt neighborhood – a route that he himself opened.
The aphorisms on time and figurative art included in some of the editions of the Wageningen art agendas came from his pen. Of his activities his translations-project Poetry around the World may be of interest to visitors from abroad.
His musical activities include membership of the Wageningen folk band Folkcorn (early dutch and flemish folkmusic,www.folkcorn.nl), the blues trio Working on the Railroad and in the experimental “impro-explo-ensemble” Rivelli based in Amsterdam.
Laurens grew up in Bennekom, went to the Marnix College in Ede where he was immediately interned for six years and subsequently studied Non-Western Sociology at Amsterdam’s Free University. He continues to work in the capital for the National UNESCO Commissie as a free-lance public information officer on UNESCO. Since mid-1991 he has lived in Wageningen, where he enlivens the street scene with his Volvo Amazon (1968) and Dodge pick-up truck (1942) mobile museum pieces. He writes about these two vehicles in periodicals devoted to old-timer clubs. He is co-founder of the Muzemakers V.O.F. collective for poetry and music (Wageningen, 2002 in collaboration with Anneke Rot) and of publishers Uitgeverij Nestor (Amsterdam/Wageningen, 2003 in collaboration with Mirjam Janse). With his poetical text-installations he frequently participates as poet in visual arts routes like Veldwerk-Expo (Schaalsmeerpolder), Kunst Kijken Monnickendam (Monnickendam), and Culturele Ronde (Wageningen). In his hometown he is a boardmember of an association for professional artists, Platform BKW.
Wageningen, October 2008.
Niet dat ik in het leven zwelg It’s not that my life is a reel
maar als ik over hobbels rijd But when I drive over cobbles
ben ik altijd liever mens op aard I prefer to have feet on the ground
dan band op velg. Than to be a tyre on a wheel.
What would you like him to write about?
(transl: Michael Collins)
* Translators’ note: The word play involved in Dichter bij Wageningen is impossible to render in English. The Dutch words “dichter bij” in isolation can mean either “closer to” or “poet in” in English.