Lubertus Jacobus van Swannswijk, who took the pseudonym of Lucebert, was born in Amsterdam in 1924. He was raised by his grandmother, a strict Calvinist, on a farm near Amsterdam. His early schooling was interrupted by World War II, at which time was forced into the German occupying army. He was later arrested on suspicion of sabotage, and after being released, he spent the remaining years of the war in underground activities.
During the war he also began experimenting with abstract drawing and painting and a fresh mode of poetry, in order to fight, as he said, “against the degenerate aesthetic concepts which had hindered the growth of a new creativity in the past.” Among the “partisans,” he met other young writers, and together they founded the Experimental Group Holland in 1948. For the first time, there was a definitive break with the established art and literature of the past. With their constant shifts in meaning, false dénouements, and deliberate ambiguity, the poets of the group went on to revolutionize Dutch letters.
The new poetry sought withdrawal into an existential reality stripped of all metaphysical security and humane veils, where man found himself helpless and naked in the face of loneliness. For Lucebert, such an experience recalls the awareness of being “a breadcrumb on the universe’s skirt,” and it is in his work that this sensibility finds its most concentrated expression. Often styled the “Emperor” of the Fiftiers, Lucebert’s growing reputation as a poet culminated in his receiving the Dutch State Prize for Literature in 1967. He also continued to draw and paint throughout his life.
BOOKS OF POETRY:
triangel in de jungle/de dieren der democratie (s’-Gravenhage: Stols, 1951); apocrief/de analphabetische naam (s’-Gravenhage: Stols, 1952); de amsterdamse school (s’-Gravenhage: Stols, 1952); van de afgrond en de luchtmens (s’-Gravenhage: Stols, 1953); alfabel (s’-Gravenhage: Stols, 1955); amulet (s’-Gravenhage: Stols, 1957); val voor vliegengod (s’-Gravenhage: Stols, 1959); mooi uitzicht & andere kurioziteiten (s’-Gravenhage: Stols, 1965); gedichten 1948-1963 (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1965); drie lagen diep (s’-Gravenhage: Stols, 1969); …en morgen de hele wereld (s’-Gravenhage: Stols, 1973); ongebundele gedichten (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1974); oogsten in de dwaaltuin (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1981); de moerasruiter uit het paradijs (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1982); troost de hysterische robot: Gedichten en een oratorium (Amsterdam: De Bejige Bij, 1989); van de roerloze woelgeest (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1993); van de maltentige losbol (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1994); nagelaten gedichten (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2002); verzamelde gedichten (Amsterdam: De Bezige bij, 2002)
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS:
The Tired Lovers They Are Machines (London: Transgravity Press, 1974).