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Poetry Translation competition

September 5, 2009

By Holland Park Press

Why this competition?

To achieve our aim to bring Dutch authors to the English language market we need Dutch to English translators. Especially ones who are interested in translating literary novels and poetry.

We are already working with talented translators but we need more.

Who can take part?

In order to take part you must be an unpublished translator. This is your chance to get started out in a career as a translator.

What’s the prize?

The winning poem will be published in our online magazine.

If the winning poem is of exceptional quality, there is the chance that the translator will be offered a contract to translate 19 additional Slauerhoff poems selected by our Dutch publishing advisor Arnold Jansen op de Haar.

When is the closing date?

All translations received before [date] will be considered. The winner will be announced on [date] at a special event. Check news on this website for updates.

Who was Slauerhoff?

Jan Jacob Slauerhoff was a writer and seafaring doctor. In 2004 he was elected on the poetry web site as the greatest non-living poet.

His contemporary, the poet Hendrik Marsman said this about him: ‘Unusually powerful poet with his own headstrong style and very talented’.

Slauerhoff’s poem Wooninglooze is a classic in Dutch literature.

He was a restless man who found The Netherlands too small and narrow-minded. That is why he chose for a life at sea despite having a poor constitution. Even so when he was at sea he longed to be on the shore and while being on land he could not wait to get back on a ship.

He cast a critical eye on society and was on a lifelong quest to find his muse.

The task

You need to translate Slauerhoff’s most famous poem.


Alleen in mijn gedichten kan ik wonen,
Nooit vond ik ergens anders onderdak;
Voor de eigen haard gevoelde ik nooit een zwak,
Een tent werd door den stormwind meegenomen.

Alleen in mijn gedichten kan ik wonen.
Zoolang ik weet dat ik in wildernis,
In steppen, stad en woud dat onderkomen
Kan vinden, deert mij geen bekommernis.

Het zal lang duren, maar de tijd zal komen
Dat vóór den nacht mij de oude kracht ontbreekt
En tevergeefs om zachte woorden smeekt,
Waarmee ’k weleer kon bouwen, en de aarde
Mij bergen moet en ik mij neerbuig naar de
Plek waar mijn graf in ’t donker openbreekt.

How to submit your entry

In order to enter the competition you have to email us. We regret that we cannot process entries that do not follow the guidelines set out below, so please read these instructions carefully.

  • The Poem must be attached as a single Microsoft Word file
  • You need to use Word 97-2003 file type (.doc extension not .docx)
  • The font should be 12-point, Times New Roman
  • The Word file has to be named as follows: ddmmyy_firstnamesurname_slauerhoff.doc,
  • “Slauerhoff Competition” must appear in the subject line of the email
  • The body of the email should contain the following information:
    A short note about why you want to be a translator
    Your contact details