Johnny van Doorn

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Johnny van Doorn
Van Doorn has curly hair and is speaking in a microphone, holding a notepad in his right hand, and making gestures with his left hand
Johnny van Doorn
Born Johan van Doorn
(1944-11-12)12 November 1944
Beekbergen, Netherlands
Died 26 January 1991(1991-01-26) (aged 46)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Pen name Johnny the Selfkicker
Occupation Writer, performer
Language Dutch
Genre Poetry, short stories

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Johan "Johnny" van Doorn (12 November 1944 – 26 January 1991) was a Dutch writer, poet and performer, first in Arnhem, later in the country's capital Amsterdam. As a poet Van Doorn called himself Johnny the Selfkicker, a nickname fulfilled by means of wild, often haphazard, performances, during which he never failed to work himself into a frenzy, often resulting in him collapsing in front of an astonished audience, for example in the middle of a large retail outlet.


Johan van Doorn was born on 12 November 1944 in Beekbergen in the Netherlands.[1]

Doorn was born during the final stages of the World War II in the little village of Beekbergen to which his parents had to flee, from their native city of Arnhem, about 10 miles to the south, where Operation Market Garden was culminating in the Battle of Arnhem. Johnny would later spend most of his childhood and youth on the ruins of that city – the final city lost in battle by the Allied Forces before they achieved their final victory over Nazi Germany, some eight months later.

His early childhood years would turn out not to be the easiest for young Johnny, because he was born from a marriage most unusual for those days – namely that between a Dutchman and a German woman.

Later he would become well known for his "primordial verse", as he used to call it; poetry back at its very roots, in the cradle of humanity from which emanate but hoarse and raw screams and sounds that lack almost any resemblance with actual words and the meaning that should normally follow from them.

Johnny van Doorn was not very popular early in his day, because not just his poetry, but his entire posture, as well as his frantic and openly demonstrated drug abuse used to have an extremely offensive effect on lots of people during those otherwise so orderly and phlegmatic postwar decades in the Netherlands, when "flower power", student uproars, hippies or any other "altered states of perception" had yet to come. And that The Netherlands would play a pivotal role couldn't be prognosticated.

Many people would later come to embrace exactly those qualities of Johnny and his writing, that had made him such a loner throughout his life. The tide had truly changed in his favour, and he loved every minute

Van Doorn died on 26 January 1991 in Amsterdam, at the age of 46.[1]


A Dutch bi-annual Prize for Spoken Literature and a square in the centre of Arnhem are both named after him.


  • (1966) Een nieuwe mongool as Johnny the Selfkicker
  • (1968) Een heilige huichelaar as Johnny the Selfkicker
  • (1994) Verzamelde gedichten
  • (1972) Mijn kleine hersentjes
  • (1977) De geest moet waaien
  • (1984) Gevecht tegen het zuur
  • (1986) Langzame wals
  • (1988) Door de weken heen: dagboeken
  • (1990) De lieve vrede: legendarische momenten 1944–1990


  1. ^ a b (Dutch) G.J. van Bork, "Doorn, Johnny van", Schrijvers en dichters, 2003. Retrieved on 2013-12-14.