First Language(s): Dutch
Second Language(s): English
Arno Bohlmeijer is a poet and novelist, writing in English and Dutch, winner of a PEN America Grant 2021, published in five countries (US: Houghton Mifflin), numerous reviews and journals, and in Universal Oneness: an Anthology of Magnum Opus Poems from around the World, 2019.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Help, how to choose between loved ones?
Books were my life-savers: consolation, adventure, friendship, awe, the sense of belonging…
It’s even impossible to decide at what age they counted most, maybe 10ish, after moving to a new town. There were the nerves and excitement of entering the library and finding a life-defining sequel or the particular volume of a series…
Extra special were the Eagle Eye books by Nowee, groundbreakingly different cowboy/Indian novels, criticizing oppression.
Do you remember the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?
A vague, unconscious and profound sense of joy with “necessity.” As a kid, the very sensation of holding pen and paper opened a world that was the natural extension of reading. To me, it’s all instinct, little thinking, more like a witness or spectator.
What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?
Even more impossible to choose: the birth of my children and grandkids, finishing books and winning major awards such as the PEN America Grant 2021, and somewhere in between the solitary 10-hour hikes in quiet areas of the Alps, reaching the end of the world.
Do you listen to music while reading or writing?
Never! I can’t do two great things at the same time. Writing is an all-encompassing privilege. Music is my second love, to be enjoyed with full attention of its own.
A High Encounter, or: The Eyes from Above
Issue Fall '21