Maarten Inghels

Belgium

Maarten Inghels (1988) is the official City Poet of Antwerp until 2018 and Artist in Residence at the Middelheim Sculpture Museum.

He coördinates The Lonely Funeral in Belgium, a social and literary project which provides poets to speak at funerals of those without relatives and friends to attend. The eponymous book was published in 2013 and received wide critical acclaim—a German anthology was published in October 2016. 

He was a guest at various literature festivals in Europe (Berlin, Mantova, Hay-On-Wye, Paris, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Zagreb …). Selections of his poetry have been translated to English, German, French, Croatian, Romanian, Estonian and published by various international anthologies and magazines (Poetry London, Lyrikline.org, Die Horen, La Traductière, Poésie/Première, Edit, 3:AM Magazine, Poetry International Web…).


Maarten Inghels writes poetry and prose. He made his debut in 2008 at the age of 20 with the collection Tumult. The volume appeared in the so-called Sandwich Series which was set up and edited by Gerrit Komrij (1944-2012), a poet and critic famous in the Low Countries. Because of this, but also because of the earlier publications in journals and stage performances, this debut immediately received a lot of attention. In Tumult, the poet explores his own life: the confusion and turmoil, but above all the love and desire. Inghels writes accessible poems and with them also wants to reach people who don’t usually read poetry. He believes very strongly in the power of the word on stage and its influence and impact on a wider audience.

A year later, the bibliophile volume Het abattoir van het afscheid (The slaughterhouse of leaving) was published by Dick Wessels/Het Gonst. The collector’s item was set by hand and 125 copies printed, of which 100 were intended for the trade.

In January 2009, Maarten Inghels started the literary and social project ‘De Eenzame Uitvaart’ (The Lonely Funeral), following the example of De Eenzame Uitvaart in Amsterdam and Groningen. Here poets write a personal poem for lonely deceased and recite it at the funeral. It is a last salute to people who mostly went their own way during their lives and then are buried without the presence of family or friends. All that remains is the short ritual: the coffin on trestles, the flowers and the poem. In October 2013, the book of reports entitled The lonely funeral, 40 stories and poems for forgotten lives was published. Writer and coordinator Maarten Inghels looks back on the five years during which he carried the vulnerable of society to the grave. He wrote a report on each deceased.

The commitment displayed by the young poet seeps through in his next collection Waakzaam (Vigilant), which was published in 2011 by De Bezige Bij Antwerp. In his poems, Inghels captures the Zeitgeist of today, and urges the reader to be alert. ‘Maarten Inghels is a vigilant poet. Not only does he have an eye for the dynamics of society and for his fellow man. He combines his youthful enthusiasm with tenderness, a feel for language and cardboard balls that throb like an outboard motor.’ (Fleur De Meyer in Poëziekrant)

His latest collection Nieuwe Rituelen (New Rituals) appeared in 2015 (De Bezige Bij Antwerp). In it, Inghels explores the desire to be seen and the art of disappearing. With this volume, he was nominated for the prestigious Flemish poetry award, the ‘Herman de Coninck Prize’ 2016. ‘With Nieuwe Rituelen (New Rituals), Maarten Inghels has written a surprising and varied collection, which is committed without being preachy. The multicultural city, the theatre of social media, but also love and death are captured by Inghels in strong lines and haunting images. New rituals is a collection that stands with two feet in today’s world.’

Besides poetry, Inghels published a novel De handel in emotionele goederen (The trade in emotional goods) (2012, De Bezige Bij Antwerp) and a collection of short stories Een landloper op batterijen (A vagrant on batteries) (2012, Uitgeverij Voetnoot).

From 2016 to 2018, Martin Inghels is the seventh city poet of Antwerp. His task is to write a minimum of 12 poems in 24 months about goings on in Antwerp. About grand events or small occurrences. About what affects him in the daily life of Antwerp. The city council chose him because he ‘has his finger on the pulse of this complex time and society’ and is also very socially involved. He is a board member of PEN-Flanders (an association of authors that works for freedom of speech and dedicates its efforts to the cause of persecuted writers) and he coordinates the Antwerp section of ‘The Lonely Funeral’ project.