Tsjisse Hettema

Born in Bitgum in Friesland in 1955. A small village with a history that goes back to Roman times. Studied English and Friesian at university for about two years. After that all kind of odd jobs until I was given a contract as a video-editor at an institute with a vast film-archive in Leeuwarden. With much pleasure I worked there until a nasty illness put me out of work. Since then full-time poet. Started writing prose and poetry at secondary school and started to publish only when I was in my thirties in various literary magazines. Only writing poetry now.

My motto:

In the dark recesses of my mind
The urge grows
To turn into words
What I never think about
As pithily as possible

To surprise the unspeakable
With words

Submitted poems
And so it happened
In slight desperation
It’s high tide at Ropsyl
On the platforms
She waves
Spring poem


Emptiness is a word
in the eyes of the people on closed wards

you should feel
the way that word
down your face
to your shoulders

you should look bashfully
at eyes which don't see anymore

they read through me
to an unknown hinterland
where we lose one another
to time

the word has become a dream

© Tsjisse Hettema
Tabula Rasa / Skjin Laai (Tresoar, 2018, s. 26)
Translation: Trevor Scarse

Tsjisse Hettema reads his poem ‘Tabula Rasa’ in the original Frisian version.