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Serial minimalist repetitive poetry

Something & Nothing

Mark Insingel

Mark Insingel made his debut in 1963 with the collection ‘Driftwood’. From the outset he wrote in an experimental style that made a stand for social relevance, seeing autonomous literature as the last refuge for freedom of expression within a society increasingly focused on reproduction. Language is at the heart of Mark Insingel’s oeuvre. His writing is based on an idiosyncratic, creative relationship with existing forms of expression such as slogans, traditional proverbs and idiomatic phrases, which he undermines and in his unique way playfully and unexpectedly combines in varying settings to eke out new meanings.

Insingel’s language has the grim structure of a machinery, but when carefully read that machinery displays emotions
NRC Handelsblad

The almost mathematical structure of Insingel’s poems is a result of the variegated and modulating way in which verses are repeated and juxtaposed, giving the impression that his writing originates in mathematical logic. Not only are individual poems structured in this manner, some books are also consciously conceived as ‘linguistic algorithms’. His consistently maintained predilection for the avant-garde has relegated Mark Insingel to the margins of the literary landscape, and as a result his work has never been fully appreciated. This has not stopped him from writing, however, and in 1990 his provisional collected poems were published, entitled ‘In Each Other’s Arms’. The minimalist love poems ‘Nothing’, for which he received the Readers' Prize for best poetry volume, and in ‘Something’, nominated for the Herman de Coninck prize, appear to have caught the attention of a younger generation of poetry readers.