POETS @ STANZA 2020: A SELECTION OF REVIEWS BY DURA - Charlotte Van den Broeck

Sunday 1 March 2020

For 2020, the StAnza Blog is hosting DURA – the Dundee University Review of the Arts – who as reviewers in virtual residence on the StAnza Blog will post excerpts from their selection of reviews of titles by poets on the StAnza 2020 programme, including this one in today’s blog. The full review can be read on their website at  https://dura-dundee.org.uk/category/poets-stanza-2019-reviews/. Written by staff and students, DURA is keen to promote the diversity of artists and art forms in the UK context, supporting especially (albeit non-exclusively) independent cinema outlets, exhibitions, theatre, film and publishing. 

Charlotte Van den Broeck, Chameleon | Nachtroer, reviewed by Lizzie Husum

Reading Charlotte Van den Broeck’s recent Bloodaxe collection makes it clear to the reader exactly why she is acclaimed as one of Europe's most innovative and original new voices in poetry. Her first English-translated poetry collection, Chameleon, was published in 2015, followed by her second poetry collection with the untranslatable title; Nachtroer in 2017. Chameleon | Nachtroer sets the two collections afloat, travelling through ocean waters and building boats. Translated from Dutch, David Colmer maintains the informal tone of the poems:

On the island a woman reaches out
for the suspicion of an elsewhere.


who holds it in her fingertips the exact same way,
a filament that, somewhere inside of her,

sets off a longing for a remote place[.]

In simple, accessible words, Van den Broeck suggests strong feelings of love and loss even as the 'she' changes from a girl to a woman. Just like a chameleon, she transforms and adjusts. With long, structure-driven sentences that manages to keep the same construction through deep explorations, Van den Broeck emphasises entanglements in her examination of identity and reflects on what it means to be female, drawing from memories, landscapes, and language.