Poet Tsjisse Hettema passes away; leaves us with a new poetry collection

Syds Wiersma


On Sunday morning, 25 July, the poet Tsjisse Hettema (Bitgum, 1955) passed away. After a very short sickbed he passed on in peace and quiet at home, with his partner at his side. Seven years ago, he overcame Kahler’s disease, but this time acute leukaemia got the best of him.

Tsjisse takes his leave as a poet with Hewwy dát, his new collection of poetry which will be published by Frysk en Frij after the summer. Many poems from this collection will be performed at his funeral on Thursday. In addition to his poems, the collection also contains beautiful images of feltworks made by Tsjisse’s partner Aafje Bouwer. Of special note is the addition of a number of poems in Eaststellingwerfsk in addition to poems in the Frisian language. Tsjisse learned this language from Aafje and he dedicated himself to write poetry in that language in the past few years. A number of poems in Stellingwerfsk were published on the RIXT website.

Hewwy dát is his fourth collection of poetry. In 1996 he made his debut with Tsi Tsi (self-published). This was followed by the collections It eachweid fan de simpele rider (Koperative Utjouwerij, 1999) and Heehoo heeho de leafde is as de mage fan in ko (Frysk en Frij, 2015). Tsjisse was active in the poetry collective RIXT from the start (since 2018) and was Poet of the Month a couple of times. His poems reflect his authentic personality, with inventive images and metaphors, a distinctive use of language and always written from the heart and personal experience. During an interview with Hedwig Terpstra in 2015, he said: “There is no one who will or can tell me how I should write my poetry. That’s a freedom you have to secure. It is something you should have from the beginning, but that’s usually not the case due to so many social bonds that tie you down.” In the interview with Terpstra he is open about his life, poetry, work at Tresoar and his illness. You can read the interview here: https://www.ensafh.nl/?p=42751

For years, Tsjisse worked for the Frisian Literary Museum and Documentation Centre (FLMD) and Tresoar as an audio-visual assistant. Over the years, he catalogued and digitised literary audio and video materials collected by the FLMD and later on by himself at Tresoar. When the Frisian Film Archive moved into the Tresoar building in 2019, Tsjisse collaborated a lot with the film archive and devoted his time to editing the digital sounds and images from the literary collection of Tresoar. His work formed an important basis for the Frisian Audio Archive launched by the film archive and Tresoar this year.

Cover photo of poetry collection ‘Hewwy dát’ – feltwork by Aafje Bouwer

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