Ruth Lasters

- Belgium -

Ruth Lasters (1979) was born in Antwerp, studied Romance philology in Brussels. She published poems and columns in, inter alia Lava, Deus ex Machina, Revolver, Poëziekrant, Krakatau, the NRC Handelsblad, Het Liegend Konijn and in the anthology 21 dichters voor de 21ste eeuw (21 poets for the 21st century).

She made her debut with the novel Poolijs (Polar Ice) (2006), for which she was immediately awarded the Flemish Debut Prize. In 2010, her second novel Feestelijk Zweet (Festive Perspiration) followed and in 2014, Vlaggenbrief (A certificate of registration for a seagoing vessel).

In 2007, her first poetry volume, Vouwplannen (Folding plans), was published. The Flemish and Dutch press was unanimous in its praise. Erik Lindner in De Groene Amsterdammer: ‘Ruth Lasters is unique in the apparent ingenuousness with which she dishes up words and their gaps.’ In 2009, she won the Debut prize of Het Liegend Konijn for this collection. According to the jury, Vouwplannen is ‘a wholly original debut, in which humour and seriousness are brewed into a mix that bubbles with enthusiasm for reality. Not just the one reality that simply presents itself, but indeed also the many other possible realities.’

In 2015, with her poem ‘Witlof’ (Chicory), she won the Turing Poetry Contest, the largest poetry competition in Flanders and the Netherlands. In the same year, her second collection, Lichtmeters (Light Meters) was published, for which she won the Herman de Coninck Prize for best volume of poetry in 2016.

Ruth Lasters often allows herself to be inspired in her work by everyday life. Her language is clear and her tone in perspective. Still, she doesn’t resign herself to that reality in her poetry. In her confrontation with the world, she issues a call for it to change: ‘For every human, a room should somewhere grow / a single millimetre of new space // as interest for each precious moment gone’. She translates that call into her poetry through the use of neologisms, unexpected grammatical constructions, omissions where you would expect words. However, the poetry of Ruth Lasters is in no way pedantic and is not engaged in the traditional sense of the word; rather she views the world like a curious child who marvels at what it sees and wonders whether it can do something itself to somehow change it.

In her poems, Ruth Lasters focuses not only on that big, changing world. Just as often, ‘I’ and ‘you’ and how difficult the relationship between the two of them can be, forms the subject of her poems. Just as with her more socially oriented poems, in the relational poems, Lasters battles against the unwanted situations in which the ‘I’ is sometimes found: ‘If moving on seems impossible, then choose one single / onward move, one glorious // obstinacy.’