Johan de Boose [ Belgium ]
The Dutch poet, novelist and author Johan de Boose was born in Gent, Belgium, in 1962, and grew up in Ontario. Until 1993 he studied Slav Languages and Literature and Eastern European Studies at the University of Gent, which included residences in Bulgaria, Poland and the Soviet Union. His doctor’s thesis »Tadeusz Kantor and the Theatre of Death« at the Institute for Slavic Philology and Eastern European Studies discussed the Polish avant-garde. From 1985 to 1990, de Boose worked for the Gent-based theatres Nederlands Toneel, Nieuwpoorttheater and Vooruit. In the latter he tried new experimental forms. From 1988 to 1995, he had his own experimental theatre studio, the Barrikade en Suikerij in Gent. From 1985 to 1990 he was an actor and author for the Kollektief D&A in Belgium and the Productiehuis Noord-Brabant in the Netherlands. Since 1986, the expert for Eastern Europe has produced and hosted several programmes for Radio 3 (later: »Klara«) and Belgium’s Radio 1.
De Boose has been an independent author of poetry, non-fiction and novels since 2003. He regularly writes articles for the Flemish and Dutch journals »Revolver«, »Deus Ex Machina«, »DWB«, »De Gids«, »De Revisor«, »De Morgen« and »Vrij Nederland«. His texts focus on Eastern Europe, where he has travelled extensively. In his non-fiction book »De grensganger« (2006; tr.: Cross-border commuter) he describes his journey through Europe, 16 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989. He discusses the political transformation and the changes in human relationships, and how people are dealing with the past. In his novel »Bloedgetuigen« (2011; tr.: Blood witnesses) he deals with the ideologies that have shaped the systems of the 20th century in the testimonies of several former political activists. His view offers the reader a new and critical perspective of the past. De Boose is also a renowned poet. His anthology »Geheimen van Grzimek« (tr.: The secret of Grzimek) from 2010 was listed for the Herman de Coninck Prijs. The title refers to the moment in his childhood, when he discovered a book by the naturalist Grzimek in his father’s room and discovered a whole and unique world full of secrets, which had so far been unknown to him, and which was so much bigger than himself.
De Boose has received numerous awards, including the Henriette Roland Holst Prijs in 2008 for »De Grensganger« and the Cutting Edge Award in 2012 for »Bloedgetuigen« as the best book in Dutch language. He is currently working as an editor with »Poëziekrant« in Gent, is a freelance journalist for the weekly journal »Knack«, and a tour guide for cultural organizations in Flanders and the Netherlands. Johan de Boose lives in Gent.