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Henk van Woerden

Henk van Woerden - foto Serge Ligtenberg
Henk van Woerden - foto Serge Ligtenberg

(1947-2005) was a painter and writer. He lived in South Africa since he was nine and after his studies in the arts remigrated to Europe. In 2001 Henk van Woerden made an international breakthrough. In that year he received for his book Een mond vol glas (A mouthful of glass) (1998) the prestigious Sunday Times Fiction/ Alan Paton Award, the award for the best book in South Africa. Een mond vol glas, a chronicle about Tsafendas, the murderder of prime minister Verwoerd, is the last section of a triptych about South Africa. His prose debut Moenie kyk nie (Don't look) (1993), which was crowned with the Geertjan Lubberhuizen award, was the first section. The second section was the novel Tikoes (1996). By the end of 2002 Notities van een luchtfietser (Notes from an air cyclist) appeared, in which van Woerden writes about both his imaginary and his real travels. In February 2003 Henk van Woerden received the Frank Kellendonk award. In October 2005 his last novel was published, Ultramarijn. It was awarded the Flemish literary prize the Gouden Uil in 2006.

(WIN 2006)

Archive available for: Henk van Woerden

  • Winternachten 2004 – Claiming Artistic Freedom

    Hivos: Minderheidstalen in Zuid-Afrika

  • Winternachten 2004 – WINTERNACHT 1

    VPRO - De Avonden, live radio from Winternachten

    In the second hour of the live radio broadcast of VPRO'S De Avonden, presentator Wim Brands talks with amongst others the writers Antjie Krog, Wim Westerman and Henk van Woerden. The new book by Antjie Krog, Liederen van de Blauwkraanvogel (Songs of the Blue Crane), (published by Podium and Novib), will be presented during the programme.

  • Winternachten 2004 – WINTERNACHT 2

    Van Dis in Optima Forma

    Adriaan van Dis loves languages that 'make love to one another'. He calls it Loving Language. Recently he put together a whole edition of the literary magazine Optima about this very subject. He asked amongst others Abdelkader Benali, Michiel van Kempen, Ellen Ombre and Henk van Woerden to write an article about how for them - as van Dis puts it - 'ribs from one language intertwine with those of another language'. Once more van Dis allows during this conversation languages to make love to one another.

  • Zuid-Afrika 2003

    Trade Winds/Passaatwinde

    With: Anil Ramdas, Arthur Japin, Ellen Ombre, Henk van Woerden, Putu Wijaya

    Together with the Cape Town Festival Winternachten organised the literary event Trade Winds/Passaatwinde, in the Centre for the Book, 19-22 March. Five authors from Indonesa, Suriname and Holland performed together with their South African collegues Raj Mesthrie, Lewis Nkosi, Rhoda Kadalie, Rayda Jacobs, Nigel Penn, Crain Soudien, E K M Dido, Peter Snyders, Elias Nel, Rachelle Greeff, Joan Hambidge, Etienne van Heerden, Wilma Stockenstrom, Mike Nicol and Gus Ferguson. Besides debates and readings by the writers there were films, musical performances and lectures.

  • Winternachten 2003

    Nation Building and Writing History

    With: Bob de Graaff, Goenawan Mohamad, Henk van Woerden, Michaël Zeeman

    Nation Building is the process in which citizens of a country develop a sense of a common identity. The writer, the journalist and the historian play major parts in this process. How do they deal with that responsibility? Do they feel free to be critical against the nation? The Indonesian poet and journalist Goenawan Mohamad experienced Soeaharto's censorship. Historian and Japan-expert Bob de Graaff discusses his experiences as a researcher for Srebrenica investigation of the Dutch Institute for War Documentation. The role of the writer in this process is illustrated by the Dutch author Henk van Woerden. English spoken. The participation of the South-African author Achmat Dangor has been cancelled for reasons of ill health.

  • Winternachten 2003 – Winternacht 1

    South-Africa, Flanders and The Netherlands: Unity of culture?

    Is is just the language that connects part of South-Africa with Flanders and the Netherlands? Benno Barnard, a Dutch writer living in Flanders for most of his life, meets South-African writer Etienne van Heerden and the Dutch writer Henk van Woerden. Michaël Zeeman is moderator.

  • Tournee NL 2003

    Winternachten Dutch Tour - Kit Tropentheater Amsterdam - South-Africa Programme

    With: Etienne van Heerden, Henk van Woerden, K. Sello Duiker

    Writer Henk van Woerden interviews the South-African writers Etienne van Heerden and K. Sello Duiker. Both will read from their work and dicuss the primary factors that made them into a writer. English spoken.

    Tickets 020 56 88 500 or

  • Zuid-Afrika 2002

    Cape Town Festival - Cape Town

    With: Cynthia Mc Leod, Denise Jannah, Frank Martinus Arion, Henk van Woerden, Michaël Zeeman, Seno Gumira Ajidarma

    The Cape Town Festival (16 to 24 March 2002) is an annual multidisciplinary festival. This year Winternachten took care of the literary programme: a two day festival called Trade Winds, a sumptuous literary feast with spoken word, music, and video (Passaatwinde - 'n vrolijke fees rondom die gesproke woord, musiek en video).

    The festival offerd - similar to theWinternachten festival in The Hague)-a parallel programme on three stages, withstand-up comedy, video, music, performing poets and discussions with writers. Michaël Zeeman presented a number of talks of the 'Winternachten-writers' with their South African collegues. Henk van Woerden and André Brink discussed 'rewriting history'; Cynthia McLeod met her fellow-writer E.K.M. Dido in a talk about'breaking down stereotypes'. Frank Martinus Arion discussed the subject of 'creolisation and hybridity' with Achmat Dangor andthe Indonesian writer Seno Gumira Ajidarma met his fellow jazzy writer Keorapetse Kgositsile, discussing writing on'jazz and struggle'.

    The VPRO documentary'Korreltjie Niks is my Dood' bySaskia van Schaik onthe South African poet Ingrid Jonker, had its South African premiere, with an introduction by its scenarist Henk van Woerden.

    Jazz singer Denise Jannah sang her poems set to music, accompanied by Cape Town based musicians. Other participating writers and performers were Gcina Mhlope, Jeremy Cronin, Gert Vlok-Nel, Loit Sôls & Jethro, Mark Lottering and Dianna Ferrus. The audience danced into the night withmusic by DJ Jools en DJ Mtone Edjabe.

  • Zuid-Afrika 2002

    Time of the Writer - Durban

    With: Cynthia Mc Leod, Denise Jannah, Frank Martinus Arion, Henk van Woerden, Michaël Zeeman, Seno Gumira Ajidarma

    In the festival Time of the Writer (11 to 16 March) in Durban Winternachten presented the evening programme 'Rewriting History - the Dutch Connection'.

    Michaël Zeeman moderated the conversation with the four writers, who share the theme of 'rewriting history'. Jazz singer Denise Jannah performed with South African musicians. She sang love-poems frombSurinamese, Dutch, Afrikaans and Antillian literature, selected for her by the Dutch poetbGerrit Komrij. The South-African writer Nadine Gordimer also performed in this programme, reading from her literary work.

    In this week the four writers, Michaël Zeemanand singer Denise Jannah also gave workshops and readings at universities, schools for journalism and secondary schools in the city and in the townships. They also gave workshops foraspirant writers, and took part in a conference for writers and publishers. Denise Jannah gavea workshop with a youth choir, and presented the results in the festival.

    Winternachten-photographer Serge Ligtenberg joined the group to Durban to teach two young students of photography the skill of theatre photography.

  • Winternachten 2002

    Wingewest van het geweten 2

    With: André Brink, Cynthia Mc Leod, Frank Martinus Arion, Henk Schulte Nordholt, Henk van Woerden, Michaël Zeeman

    In 1998 Winternachten organized a panel-discussion with the same title. During that meeting writers Frank Martinus Arion and Adriaan van Dis formed a committee for the erection of a national slavery-monument. In june 2002 the monument will be unveiled. Time for a second panel-discussion with the writers involved. For whom will this monument be? Do the Dutch have any idea of their history of slave-trading? Is this only a monument for the descendants of the slaves, now living in The Netherlands. A dicussion on historic awareness and the influence of colonial history on the national identity of the Surinamese, Antillians, Indonesians, South-Africans and the Dutch. With writers taking part from the different countries, and the audience participating in the discussion. Moderator was Michaël Zeeman. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2002 – Winternacht 1

    Film: Korreltjie niks is my dood

    (Grain of nothing will kill me, 55 min., beta sp, 2001) Director: Saskia van Schaik (for VPRO television). A documentary about South African poet Ingrid Jonker. In the night of 18 to 19 July, 1965, she walked into the sea near Three Anchor Bay, Cape town. She left behind a daughter, a small but beautiful body of work, consisting of three poetry collections. Jonker's work not only had great influence on the work of generations of African poets after her, but she also conquered the hearts of many readers. Jonker was brought back into attention when Nelson Mandela reader her famous poem 'The child' during the opening of the Parliament. The documentary opens and closes with the poem, read by Mandela and by the mother of the child that died during the riots in Sharpville. The poem became a symbol for unity, reconciliation and healing for all South Africans. With an introduction from the author of the scenario Henk van Woerden (writer, painter), Gerrit Komrij (compiled an anthology of Jonker's work in cooperation with Henk van Woerden), and writer André Brink. Dutch/Afrikaans spoken.

  • Winternachten 2001

    Live Anthology and Debate

    With: Anna Enquist, Ardashir Vakil, Bas Heijne, Basil Appollis, Breyten Breytenbach, Ellen Ombre, Henk van Woerden, Ian Buruma, Jan Eijkelboom, Jit Narain, Lasana M. Sekou, Michaël Zeeman, Rajeev Balasubramanyam, Vamba Sherif

    What is the most beautiful poem on diaspora? A number of Winternachten guests read their favourite poem from each other's literatures. The writers were introduced by Basil Appollis.
    Dutch writer Henk van Woerden gave the introductory lecture (in Dutch) to a debate on the theme of 'diaspora and the writer'. This debate (in English), hosted by Michaël Zeeman, appeared to be a good start for the Boekenweek, a annual event for the promotion of Dutch literature, following a few weeks later in The Netherlands.

  • Winternachten 2000 – Winternacht 1


    Punitive Damage: (Annie Goldson 1999). Documentary. Family seeks the truth about the death of a young demonstrator in East Timor.
    A Question of Madness: (Liza Key, 1999) Een portrait of Dimitri Tsafendas, de murderer of the architect of Apartheid, minister-president Hendrik Verwoerd. With an introduction and and a discussion with the maker, by writer Henk van Woerden. Van Woerden depicted this character in his novel 'A Mouthful of Glass'.

  • Winternachten 1999

    Live Anthology

    With: Arahmaiani, Aya Zikken, Breyten Breytenbach, Dan Jacobson, Denis Henriquez, Frank Martinus Arion, Gerrit Komrij, Henk van Woerden, Jit Narain, Michiel van Kempen, Pim de la Parra, Rendra, Rudy Kousbroek, Soli Philander

    The final programme in this festival was a 'live anthology', composed by writers reading their favourite poems and prose-fragments from the literatures of each other's cultures. In this way a colourful anthology was created from Surinamese, Indonesian, Antillian, Dutch and South-African literature.

  • Winternachten 1999 – Winternacht 2

    A Search for East-Indian South-Africa

    Rudy Kousbroek and Henk van Woerden went on a search for East-Indian South-Africa. Descendants of Dutch East-Indian slaves and dissidents, who were deported to the Cape-province, were called 'Malay'. In the 17th and 18th century they raised against the Dutch rulers. Kousbroek and Van Woerden went for a search for what is left of the Malay culture the Cape.

  • Winternachten 1998

    South-African Winternight

    With: Aad Nuis, Adriaan van Dis, Carl Niehaus, Emma Huismans, Etienne van Heerden, Henk van Woerden, Lesego Rampolokeng, Louis Maholo and Friends, Michaël Zeeman, Peter Snyders, Robert Dorsman, Sandile Dikene, Soli Philander, Thula Sizwe, Tom Lanoye, Tribal Countdown, Vernon February

    An evening with writers from South-Africa and The Netherlands. They read from their work and were introduced by Aad Nuis. They were interviewed by Michaël Zeeman and Robert Dorsman.
    In het musical programme there were performances by (among others) Tribal Countdown, Louis Maholo, Seon Birgin, Frankie Douglas and Ernst Glerum. The popular South-African Soli Philander did his stand-up-comedy peformance.
    The films shown were the documentary 'Mandela, Son of Africa, Father of a Nation' by Jo Menell, nominated in 1997 for the Oscar in the category 'best documentary'. And 'Breaker Morant' , the moving drama by director Bruce Beresford on the Boer War, followed by some shorter movies on South-Africa from the beginning of the 20th century.