Sasja Janssen is the first winner of the new Johan Polak Poetry Prize

Sasja Janssen is the first winner of the new Johan Polak Poetry Prize
Sasja Janssen is the first winner of the new Johan Polak Poetry Prize
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Poet Sasja Janssen is the first winner of the Johan Polak Poetry Prize, the major new annual award for a poetry collection.

Janssen (1968) receives the prize, a sum of 50,000 euros, for her collection Virgula from 2021. The organization of the prize announced this this week.

Virgula is both a praise and a curse on the comma, for which ‘virgula’ is the Latin word. Janssen sees a poetic ambiguity in the punctuation mark, because it causes both separation and connection: for her these paradoxical properties form the right ‘hook’ on which to hang the story of an entire life, a life full of damage and pain, but also lust for life.

Virgula , Janssen’s fifth collection, was the annual favorite of poetry critics in 2021 (and therefore winner of the Awater Poetry Prize) and is one of the most praised poetry collections of recent years. However, he has not yet received nominations for the Grand Poetry Prize and the Herman de Coninck Prize.

Previous three years

The Polak Prize changes that, three years after publication, and even a few months after the publication of Janssen’s latest collection. Bundles from the previous three years compete for this prize: in addition to the largest amount of money that a poetry collection can win in the Netherlands, this is the novelty of the Johan Polak Poetry Prize.

It was created last year by the foundation that manages the estate of Johan Polak, wealthy publisher and book collector. The foundation wanted to finance a large, full-fledged poetry prize, of the same size as major novel prizes such as the Libris Literature Prize and Boekenbon Literature Prize. Other Dutch bundle prices never exceeded 25,000 euros. © NRC Media

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Sasja Janssen winner Johan Polak Poetry Prize

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