Tsead Bruinja

Photo: Hilde Brandsma

Tsead Bruinja (Rinsumageest, 1974) is a poet living in Amsterdam. He made his debut in Frisian with the volume of poetry De wizers yn it read (Bornmeer) in 2000 and in Dutch with Dat het zo hoorde (Contact) in 2003. Bruinja edits anthologies, writes reviews, is a TV host and an interviewer and performs at home and abroad (including Peru, Ukraine and Zimbabwe). Additionally he collaborates regularly with visual artists, typographers and designers. You can find his work not only in books but also on buildings (on the canopy of the station in Leeuwarden for example), on squares and in stores.

A few years ago Bruinja became a lecturer of Creative Writing in Arnhem and in 2017 he became ‘Dongeradichter’, poet laureate, of the council of Dongeradeel. Volumes of poetry by Bruinja have been nominated for the Jo Peters Poetry Prize, the Ida Gerhardt Poetry Prize and the Obe Postma Prize (as a translator of his own work). His most recent Frisian collection is Hingje net alle klean op deselde kapstôk/Hang niet alle kleren aan dezelfde kapstok (Afûk, 2018).

In February 2019 Tsead Bruinja has been appointed as the new Poet Laureate of the Netherlands for a period of two years. Bruinja is the seventh Poet Laureate of the Netherlands, appointed by a commission of experts and prominent writers. The next two years he will write poems on the occasion of national events and act as poetry ambassador.

Submitted poems
Grass that’s already laughing
Why isn’t anyone taking care of the horses?


darling no one knows about the previous lives
in which we passed each other by or missed the bus
one of us was on or you were my sister my mother
and it was doomed between us because too many

years or a faith loomed up between us
sometimes the distance must have been as solid
as a continent with me for instance busy
inventing fire while you and your lover

were lighting candles on the other side of the ocean
am I holding you too tight again I don’t want
to crush you but I’m scared and glad at once that

nothing will ever come between us again beyond
this universe where we can’t come together because
it’s much too small for the sorrow of two becoming one

darling let time tear us apart as we die one by one
we will fight back with bridges of words

© Tsead Bruinja
Translation: David Colmer