Yannick Dangre

- Belgium -

Yannick Dangre (1987) is a Belgian poet and writer. He was born in Brussels and lives in Antwerp, where he studied French and Dutch literature. He made his debut at age twenty-two with the novel Daughter of the volcano, a story that explores childhood and family relations. As youngest laureate ever, he was awarded the Flemish prize for best first novel. In 2011, he published his first poetry book Girl I still like, which won him the Herman De Coninck prize. Later followed the much-lauded March rooms, a tender portrait about an older gay couple. His most recent work is Gazing into the navel and the night, a collection which combines individual love poems with poetry about present day global terrorism. His work is known for its musicality, elaborate style and psychological insights. He has performed it onstage at numerous venues throughout Belgium and the Netherlands.

Despite his still youthful age, Yannick Dangre (1987) can already look back on a fine list of achievements. He made his debut at the age of 22 with the novel Vulkaanvrucht (Daughter of the volcano) which was received with acclaim and with which he was also awarded the Debut Prize. In 2012, he published his second novel, Maartse kamers (March rooms), and in 2016, his third novel De idioot en de tederheid (The idiot and the tenderness) made its appearance. Yet as Dangre himself says, he feels himself to be first and foremost a poet. His debut collection Meisje dat ik nog moet (Girl I still like, 2011) was nominated for the C. Buddingh’ Prize and won the Herman de Coninck prize in the Debut category. In 2014, the second collection Met terugwerkende kracht (With retroactive effect) appeared and in 2017, there was the collection Nacht en navel (Gazing into the navel and the night). In between, he also won the Melopee poetry prize with the poem ‘Vader’ (‘Father’).

From around the time of his poetry debut, the young Dangre was positioned in the neo-romantic tradition. His own appearance – with abundant locks of hair and a certain dandyish dress style – was certainly to blame for a part of that, but in terms of content, he was also quick to flirt with that romantic tradition. In interviews, he often referred to Oscar Wilde, Thomas Mann and his first literary feats consisted of a number of pastiches of French symbolists. Also in his debut collection, Meisje dat ik nog moet, that influence is clearly present. The critic Jeroen Dera sees that romantic aspect of Dangre’s poetry debut primarily in “his wrestling with the divine muse [...] The poetry in Meisje dat ik nog moet gives evidence of a constant longing for a muse that can hide the flaws of the poet” (Ons Erfdeel 2013, 1). The critic Erik Menkveld voices it more expressively in the daily newspaper De Volkskrant (11 June 2011): “Lyrically and drunk on words, his dark erotic longing flows over the pages towards the age-old idealised beloved”.

Whilst in his debut collection Dangre primarily focused his concentration on himself and his own emotions, in his second collection, he widens his themes to human relationships (man-woman, parents-child...). Dangre doesn’t display himself as an optimist and the collection is rather characterised by disenchantment. The poet describes a loss of innocence, decline and disappointment. Human relationships seem doomed and old age brings no consolation, just loss. A theme, in short, that still fits within the romantic tradition of his first collection.

In his third collection Nacht en navel (2017) as well, Dangre is still talking about his own emotions and about interpersonal relations. The cycles Toi tu t'appelles Lolita, Stairway to hell and Settimana Santa still connect in terms of themes and feel for life with his previous collections. In the two other cycles of the collection, however, Dangre lets the world in. Dangre’s world is not beautiful, but a place where attacks are carried out, where people flee. In Moi je m’appelle, he portrays a number of figures who have figured in the world news in the past few years in the context of terrorism, streams of refugees and civil wars (Bashar al-Assad, Salah Abdeslam, Ibrahim El Bakraoui…). The last cycle focuses on locations that have featured in the world news over the past few years because of attacks (Paris), civil war (Aleppo) or because other events took place there that put the world into a new perspective (Washington D.C., Vatican City).