Charlotte Van den Broeck

Belgium

Charlotte Van den Broeck studied English and German and is taking a degree course in Arts of the Spoken Word and Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp. In 2015, she made her debut with the poetry collection Kameleon (Chameleon) at the Arbeiderspers. The collection was awarded the Herman de Coninck Debut prize. In January 2017, her second collection Nachtroer (name of a late night shop) will make its appearance. She has been published in various literary journals in the Netherlands and Flanders. Some of her poems have been translated into German, English and Arabic. Besides being a poet, she is also a performer and seeks the ability to pronounce and experience poetry onstage. She performed inter alia at the Night of Poetry, Saint Amour and together with Arnon Grunberg will attend to the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2016.


As with several of her contemporaries (Maud Vanhauwaert, Ruth Lasters, ...) the poetry of Charlotte Van den Broeck has been greatly influenced by her background as an onstage poet. Her poems often have a narrative character, they are rhythmic and make use of strongly impinging images. Their tone is often colloquial.

The poetry of Charlotte Van den Broeck also certainly holds its own on paper. Beneath the narrative layer, which does well on stage, there is also another strong subtext present, which makes the poetry subject to multiple interpretations. Central to the collection is the search for identity by an I-figure. The I in Kameleon at first sight resembles a naive girl, looking wide-eyed at the world. In a second reading, however, it appears that the I-figure itself is gradually becoming aware of a subversive undercurrent in the world. The dear granddads turn out to be common whoremongers, grandmothers have already gone through several grandfathers and mothers weep silently in front of the washing machine. Parallel to the shedding of the girl into a woman, we also see the world coming of age in the poems of Van den Broeck. Poet and critic Luuk Gruwez put it as follows: ‘The body is part of the landscape. It seems that the landscape can hurt Van den Broeck because her body is part of it. And with all of that, she seems to be embarking on a quest for both the world and for herself.’

In October 2016, as the youngest ever Host Country Speaker, together with the Dutch writer Arnon Grunberg, she will be opening the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is being hosted in 2016 by Belgium and the Netherlands.