Maud Vanhauwaert

- Belgium -

Maud Vanhauwaert is a writer and text-on-stage performer. In 2011 her first poetry album was published by Querido (Amsterdam), called Ik ben mogelijk ('I am possible'). It was awarded the Vrouw Debuut Prijs (Price for female débuts). In 2014,  Wij zijn evenwijdig ('We are parallels') was published, a book you can read as a poetry album, as a meandering story, or as a compilation of sad jokes.

Maud examines creative ways to bring poetry on stage. She performed in different countries, won the 'Frappant TXT' competition (2012) and became finalist in the World Championship of Poetry Slam (2012) and in the prestigious 'Leids Cabaret Festival' (2014). 

Maud obtained a master degree in Literature and Linguistics at the University of Antwerp and also a master degree in the Theatre Academy of Antwerp, where she currently teaches.  

Maud Vanhauwaert (1984) is a Flemish writer and recitation artist; she read Germanic languages and studied recitation at the Conservatory of Antwerp. With the renowned publishing house Querido, she published her first collection of poetry Ik ben mogelijk in 2011, which was enthusiastically received in all media and for which she won the Vrouw Debut Prize. In 2014, Wij zijn evenwijdig_, a collection of quotes, texts, short poems and jokes, followed. Vanhauwaert is a very good performer: her appearances are at the cutting edge of poetry and cabaret performance and she snatched up prizes with her productions, in which she played in several countries. She won the Frappant TXT contest in 2012 and in the same year was a finalist in the World Championship of Poetry Slam. In 2014, she was one of the finalists of the prestigious Dutch Cabaret Festival of Leiden. She also performed several times during the largest theatre festival of the low lands: Theater aan Zee (Theatre by the Sea), and in 2014, appeared in a production as part of the series Geletterde Mensen (Literate People) (at the Behoud de Begeerte Artistic Centre of Antwerp).


Her poems have appeared in the most important literary magazines in the Netherlands and Flanders such as Het Liegende Konijn, Das Magazin and Plebs. For some time she also wrote a column for the Flemish daily paper De Morgen and is an active participant in the popular TV show Iedereen beroemd (Everybody's Famous), where she does a poetry slot every Monday.


Maud Vanhauwaert read Germanic languages and studied recitation at the Conservatory of Antwerp. She has published two collections of poetry to date, which were both very enthusiastically received by the critics. With her debut Ik ben mogelijk, she carried off the Vrouw Debut Prize; with the texts that later appeared in Wij zijn evenwijdig_ in 2014, she performed and won the 2012 Frappant TXT contest and in the same year was a finalist in the World Championship of Poetry Slam. In 2014, she was one of the finalists of the prestigious Dutch Cabaret Festival of Leiden. Vanhauwaert not only publishes poetry, but also performs with it, in productions at the cutting edge of poetry reading and cabaret. She is also active as a columnist and does a poetry slot in a popular TV programme.


In the Netherlands, Vanhauwaerts’ collection Ik ben mogelijk was the poetry club selection of the poetry magazine Awater, no mean feat for a Flemish debutante. It must have something to do with the freshness of her poetry. That is very understandable, because it is also intended for the stage, but owing to its original use of imagery, it is so incisive that the poems also work very well on paper. Vanhauwaert observes the world and knows how to describe it aptly in slightly absurd metaphors. For example, in these verses: ‘the dimples in her laugh / as if each cheek contained a staple’. She captures familiar situations in simple language, but because of her sure-fire use of metaphor she is able to hit the mark: someone ‘thinks of the list of everything that only happens twice / low tide in a day, the death / of one of us.’ And so this collection is full of striking observations that briefly place everyday reality in a different light.


That technique is also employed by Vanhauwaert in her second collection, the wacky Wij zijn evenwijdig_ (We are parallel_). That is a collection of mini stories, anecdotes, aphorisms, observations, thoughts and jokes in flipback book format - all very short; so short - sometimes only one line - that you can always fit two on a page. Are these poems? That is not entirely clear, but in any case, these fragments have poetic qualities. That's because Vanhauwaert uses a lot of tricks from poetry. So, by playing on the ambiguity of words, she combines worlds in the language that normally have nothing to do with each other, as in: ‘The paths cross like swords.’ Another stylistic trick that she uses more often, is to have the obvious be derailed in a weird way: a woman with her finger in the air isn’t pointing, but asking a question; a child who does the same, isn’t asking a question, but feeling ‘the direction of the wind’; a man, of whom it was thought that he was trying to determine the direction of the wind with his fingers in the air is treading water, even though there isn’t any water. Thus you find yourself in a universe where nothing is self-evident. It is a world that resembles ours, but where nothing is what it seems. That makes one a little bit paranoid, but mainly creates a smile. A third artistic trick is total absurdity, like this: “I see a man with a beard. I ask ‘are you Islamic’. ‘No’, he says, ‘I'm sad’.” Vanhauwaert succeeds more than once at interfering with the biased view. She always does it with humour and a certain charm that captures you for herself and for her texts. These texts work best during performances, where they serve as a slightly daft look on life, but most of them also manage to be convincing on paper.