Ester Naomi Perquin

Ester Naomi Perquin (Utrecht, 1980) attended creative writing classes in Amsterdam and worked as a prison guard to finance her studies. Her debut volume, Servetten halfstok (Napkins At Half Mast), appeared in 2007 and was followed in 2009 by the collection Namens de ander (On Behalf of the Other). Perquin is a host for the VPRO radio show Nooit Meer Slapen (Never Sleep Again). In 2011 she was appointed Rotterdam’s poet laureate. She has received a number of prizes for her work, including the prestigious VSB Poetry Prize for best collection of the year for her third volume, Celinspecties (Cellinspections), published in 2012. In 2017, shortly after publishing her latest collection Meervoudig afwezig (Multiple Absences), Ester Naomi Perquin became the Dutch Poet Laureate. The Hunger in Plain View, her first collection in English, was recently published by White Pine Press (USA).

Photo: Lenny Oosterwijk


Poetry Centre Stage »

A double bill of poetry for Thursday evening
20:00 Reading – Ester Naomi Perquin
21:00 Reading – Michael Symmons Roberts

Thu 8 March | 20:00 - 22:00 | £9.75/£8.00 | The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, Auditorium


Letters to a P.O. Box

First you need to learn to write to a woman (a letter
that will be seen by strangers, held up to the light),
a woman who will lick her lips between your lines,
clean up that jail-worn body,
patch it.

Whatever you were before, she writes, it doesn’t count,
it was in vain, I wasn’t there—

Then when you get her in your hands, you have to be bright
and cheerful and fit into her spotless house. Get used
to cushions on the couch, tablecloths, little china
dogs, smoking outside and special bowls
for soup, her mother’s face, apple pie,
the photo on the sideboard,
that face leering at you.

You are so clean-shaven, freshly-showered, strong and silent she says,
and then you kiss her. You never say a word. Your childhood
alone would stain her rugs.

Ester Naomi Perquin, tr. David Colmer

Dutch original published in Meervoudig afwezig (Van Oorschot, 2012)