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A female Johnny Cash

Where We Came From

Carmien Michels

Carmien Michels has a history on stage. She won the Dutch Poetry Slam Championship, came in third at the Poetry Slam World Championship and became the European Champion later that year. Her debut poetry collection ‘Where We Came From’ bears witness to the way her poetry grew on stage.

In the printed version of her oral poetry, Michels is successfully looking for her own voice

‘Where We Came From’ consists of ten series of poems that are carefully assembled and contain a great diversity of subjects. However, the poems share a longing to look back at where things start – the opening series reflects on birth as the beginning – and at how they develop, mostly in a rather devastating way.

Michels' verses show a political and social engagement that is more often than not ‘right in your face’, although there is also plenty of room for personal and loving irony, doubt and self-criticism. The poems often bear traces of the oral situation they were written for in the first place, but her writing is equally strong on paper.

Poems on the migrant crisis and (neo)colonialism are combined with harsh love poems inspired by Pablo Neruda: this debut shows all the skills needed for a promising poetic career.

Carmien Michels makes sharp observations and creates a dark, often fragmented world.
De Volkskrant