Frederik C.

Ester Naomi Perquin

Translated from the Dutch by Tinka Shaoul


The sentence depends on how you say it. The man in black is

a mood in costume and his night’s sleep, his wife, his breakfast,

the coffee’s quality in that spot: determine everything.


All that is left for you is one sentence on which he will put his finger later.

So make sure to deal with the whole story- don’t spare yourself too much but

get out of the  picture, slowly. Instead of murderer

you choose ‘offender’. Greater flexibility. Less charged.


Don’t get me wrong: when necessary, say it resolute.

Resolute as in the meat industry, be firm, say how fast you


and had to rub him out, usable as a frozen chicken.


Only if you have a choice, you say: I took him out. No


provides you of such a relief. That man in black was also

once young, he likes to see you also

hold, let him feel the heat, dress someone.


Frederik C.


De straf hangt af van hoe je het zegt. De man in het zwart is

een stemming in pak en zijn nachtrust, zijn vrouw, zijn ontbijt,

de kwaliteit van de koffie ter plaatse: allesbepalend.


Jou rest niets dan hooguit één zin waar hij straks de vinger op


Zorg dus voor het hele verhaal- ontzie jezelf niet te veel maar

schuif  uit beeld, langzaam aan. In plaats van moordenaar

kies je ‘dader’. Ruimtelijker. Minder beladen.


Begrijp me goed, wanneer het nodig is: zeg het hard.

Hard als de handel in vlees, wees ferm, zeg hoe snel je toen


en koud moest maken, handzaam als de diepvrieskip.


Alleen als het anders kan zeg je: ik deed hem de das om. Geen


die je zo van verzachting voorziet. Ook de man in het zwart

is jong geweest, ook hij ziet je graag iemand

beetnemen, opwarmen, aankleden.


Ester Naomi Perquin (1980) is a Dutch poet.  Perquin worked for several years as a prison warden in order to finance her studies at a Creative Writing Program in Amsterdam. She wrote a column for the political and cultural weekly De Groene Amsterdammer and was editor for the literary journal Tirade. She published six collections of poetry between the years 2007 – 2018. Perquin was the city poet for Rotterdam for two years. Recently, she was chosen to be the Poet Laureate of the Netherlands.

Tinka Shaoul ( 1962) was  raised in the Netherlands and has lived 30 years in Israel. She studied English Literature in the Hebrew University Jerusalem and Literary Translation of prose and poetry in the Bar Ilan University Tel Aviv. She is working on a translation of the novel Vaslav of Arthur Japin from Dutch into English.


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