Friday, September 1, 2023







NILAVRONILL: Why do literature and poetry in particular interest you so much? Please give us some idea about your own perception of literature or poetry in general.

GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT: A Belgian poet wrote, if at forty you don’t know what you want, it is better that you die. I was thirty-nine, but did not want to die, so I decided to dedicate my live to poetry, not only the writing of poetry, but also the translation and publication of modern international poetry, to do something, although it is few, for a better understanding of human beings from all over the world, whatever their race, nationality or religion. The Spanish poet José Ángel Valente pretended that that writing poetry is not reproducing a pre-existing experience, but to produce it. That is indeed what writing poetry means for me. Moreover, poetry is the purest of all art expressions because it is not commercial. Poets can express their feelings and write the truth, even at the risk of being jailed in countries with dictatorial leaders

NILAVRONILL: How do you relate your own self existence with your literary life in one hand, and the time around you, in the other.

GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT: Only when I travel, I use mobile phone. I am a kind of hermit in this digitally indoctrinated world. To say it with the words of the Chinese poet Li Tao-Po: I have my own world, which is not among the people, or in this indoctrinated society. But… I have friends all over the world.

NILAVRONILL: Do you believe creative souls flourish more in turmoil than in peace?

GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT: Well, literature and poetry confirm it. The best German poetry has been written in East Germany (Bertolt Brecht, Reiner Kunze etc.) under communist dictatorship. Also, in Latin-America, in China, Afghanistan, Palestine…  

NILAVRONILL: Do you think in this age of information and technology the dimensions of literature have been largely extended beyond our preconceived ideas about literature in general?

GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT: No, I am rather pessimistic. Of course, we have more technical communication possibilities but they are also used to mislead and indoctrinate people. People are so busy taking their selfies and writing their stories that they have no more time to read good books or poetry, whose sales have decreased a lot.

NILAVRONILL: Now, in this changing scenario we would like to know from your own life experiences as a poet, writer and a creative soul: How do you respond to this present time?

GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT: In the past, I generally wrote rather philosophical poetry. But the titles of my latest poetry book confirm it: The Unrest of the Word, The Road of Being, Poetic Reflections: they include poems about artificial intelligence, digital indoctrination, climate change…

NILAVRONILL: Do you believe that all writers are by and large the product of their nationality? And is this an incentive for or an obstacle against becoming a truly international writer?

GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT: Well, yes, the writings of many poets are limited and a product of what they have read: their local poetry. I have the advantage not only having travelled around the world, but also of reading foreign poetry in the original language. According to the Chinese my poetry is Taoist or ZEN as Japanese pretend.

NILAVRONILL: Now, if we try to understand the tradition and modernism, do you think literature can play a pivotal role in it?  If so, how? Again, how can an individual writer relate himself or herself to the tradition and to modernism?

GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT: At a reading I gave years ago at a Spanish university, one of the students asked me if I also were a nationalist. I replied Yes, I am a nationalist, a universal nationalist. I love local, traditional music and culture of many countries. Unfortunately, political nationalists don’t promote local values, only their own person. Modernism should not be an enemy of tradition and neither is all what is modern better than before. On the contrary. Compare modern constructions, modern music, modern painting to the former: a disaster! In one of my poems as asked: what shall we leave to our descendants, other than polluted water and air? Even if our communication limited to short messages. We should defend beauty, art and culture

NILAVRONILL: Do you think literary criticism has much to do with the development of a poet and the true understanding of his or her poetry?

GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT: The great Bosnian poet Izet Saralic asked: if critics know so much about poetry, why don’t they write poetry? As to myself, I learned all from reading foreign poets and philosophers, nothing from critics. As to the readers, some critics might be valuable, but I don’t find that poetry should be complicated and need critics. Good poetry can be simple but profound.

NILAVRONILL: Do you think society as a whole is the key factor in shaping you up as a poet, or your poetry altogether?

GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT: My reading of mainly international literature and poetry greatly shaped my poetry. Contrary to most Flemish (Belgian) poets, my poetry was originally influenced by German nature poetry, later by oriental philosophy. But also, human suffering influenced some of my poems, I recently also wrote several poems about the war in Ukraine.

NILAVRONILL: Do you think people in general actually bother about literature?  Do you think this consumerist world is turning the average man away from serious literature?

GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT: Unfortunately reading books is declining and – as the majority of people spend so much time at their so called SMART phones, they have turned many people way from serious literature, a danger, as we see how the masses are misled by social media and politicians.

NILAVRONILL: We would like to know the factors and the peoples who have influenced you immensely in the growing phase of your literary life.

GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT: As a youngster, I loved German romantic poets, such as Goethe, Schiller, Heine, Hölderlin and even wrote rhymed poems in German, but also French poets like Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Mallarmé, de Lamartine and Victor Hugo fascinated me. At that time, I lived in Brussels and was member of German, French and English libraries. Later I discovered Paul Celan, still one of my favourite poets, Rilke and modern German poets like Reiner Kunze, Bertold Brecht etc.  As an adult, I travelled all over Europe, but also visited many times the Far East, discovered Chinese poets like Li Bai and Tu Fu, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Japanese haiku masters which I later translated. My Indian friend, the great artist Satish Gupta introduced to me Taoism and ZEN, leading to a drastic change in my poetry. In February 1998 I wrote in Rajasthan The Road, translated by the leading Chinese poet Bei Dao as TAO, meant as a poetic bridge between Western and Eastern culture. Since then, my poetry has become more philosophic.

NILAVRONILL: How would you evaluate your contemporaries and what are your aspirations for or expectation from the younger generation?

GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT: Honestly speaking, few poetries of the younger generations fascinate me. All seems much of the same. Few personal writings. You can change the names of the authors, nobody will notice. As far as my personal experience and reading is concerned, the best contemporary literature and poetry is written in Latin America.

NILAVRONILL: Humanity has suffered immensely in the past, and is still suffering around the world. We all know it well. But are you hopeful about our future?

GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT: Not really, I have the impression that we live in a selfie world. The majority of people cares only for themselves. Before there were human protests, such as against the war in Vietnam. Now there are nowhere protests against the murderous war in Ukraine, nor about what happened in Iran, in Afghanistan, in Africa…In France senseless protests by thousands of youngsters destroying hundreds of cars, buildings, including trying to kill a mayor…

NILAVRONILL: What role can literature in general play to bring a better day for every human being?

GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT: Although we cannot change the world, we should not give up. I weekly receive reactions from readers of my project Poetry without Borders, publishing two poems a month from all over the world. I know that a number of readers wait to receive the next poems and enjoy them. An old man ever asked his son to by a computer so that he could receive and read the poems. The German poet Waldemar Bonsels wrote: what happiness is it, to offer happiness to the people, even if it is only with words.


GERMAIN DROOGENBROODT is an internationally known Belgian poet, living in Spain, yearly invited at the most prestigious international poetry festivals. He is also translator, publisher and promoter of modern international poetry. He wrote short stories and literary reviews, but mainly poetry, so far 17 poetry books, published in 28 countries. As founder of the Belgian publishing house POINT Editions, he published more than eighty collections of mainly modern, international poetry, organised and co-organised several international poetry events in Spain, is co-founder and advisor of JUNPA (Japan Universal Poets Association) and founding president of the Spanish cultural foundation ITHACA and literary adviser of the Chinese Huifeng Cultural Association. He also set up the internationally greatly appreciated project Poetry without Borders, publishing monthly in more than 30 languages 2 modern poems from all over the world. Several famous artists made paintings inspired by his poetry and music was composed to his poems. Germain Droogenbroodt visited countless times the Far East and studied Chinese philosophy which inspired his poetry. He received more than a dozen international poetry awards as poet and as promotor of international poetry, recently in Spain the International Poetry Award Fuente Vaqueros (birthplace of Lorca). He was recommended for the Nobel prize of Literature in 2017.

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