‘It was secretly already on my wish list’, Ilja Leonard Pfeiffer about writing the Boekenweekgift

“I used to be a poet and drinker, now only half: only a poet,” says Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer. Seven years ago he made the decision to give up alcohol. “That was one of the hardest things I did at first, but not anymore and it doesn’t even deserve applause anymore.”

Ode to your first love

The theme of the Boekenweek is an ode to your first love. “My first love is my current love, Stella. That’s true. Everything that came before this was a kind of practice. I’m a poet and romantic.” The Book Week Gift fits in nicely with the theme. “It’s not mandatory, but with this theme it was a pleasure to stick to it.

I thought it very appropriate to write an ode especially for the Boekenweek to all those thousands of anonymous forces in the background that make the literary business possible. They are never in the spotlight. That’s why I chose such a person as the main character. carmen. She says herself: ‘I feel old, because I like to read.'”

‘I have seen my views about love and about poetry change’

A collection of poems will also be published this week From the first to the last love – an amorous choice of poems† “That collection is an anthology of my poems about love,” says the writer. “And I’ve written a lot about love. I’ve seen my views about love and about poetry change, because this is a selection of the poems I’ve written since 1998. My first impulse was to throw everything away and to write again. But in the end you understand that everything is part of a journey and that you can be proud of the road you have traveled.”

Dutch attitude ‘ordinary self-interest’

In the book Grand Hotel Europe Pfeijffer outlines that tourism is destroying ancient Europe. “As a poet, you are also a clarifier and prophet and diviner of the nation and of the peoples. We are living right now a historic event that is becoming more terrifying, terrifying, cruel and worrying by the day.

I also worry from a distance about my dear, naive homeland where everyone is now gradually realizing that they have not even started implementing the economic boycott against Russia. In Italy, it took less than twenty-four hours to implement the sanctions. And I’m afraid it’s not even naivety, but very vulgar self-interest. The Netherlands sees opportunities to earn some money at the last minute from the Russian oligarchs.”

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