Johnny van Doorn
|Johnny van Doorn|
Johnny van Doorn (photo by Tom Ordelman)
|Born||Johan van Doorn
12 November 1944
|Died||26 January 1991
|Pen name||Johnny the Selfkicker|
|Genres||Poetry, short stories|
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 he has proven to be worthy of by means of wild, often haphazard performances, during which he never failed to work himself into a frenzy, which often resulted in him collapsing right in front of an astonished audience, say, in the middle of a large retail outlet.
Born during the final stages of the Second World War in the little village of Beekbergen to which his parents had to flee, because 10 miles to the south, in their native city of Arnhem, the 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 - in fact the final city lost in battle by the Allied Forces before they achieved their final victory over Nazi Germany, some eight months later.
Later he would become well known for his "primordial verse", as he used to call them; poetry back at its very roots, in the cradle of humanity from which emanate but hoarse and raw screams and sounds that lack almost all resemblance with actual words and the meaning that should normally follow from them.
Johnny van Doorn was not very popular early in his career, 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 flegmatic postwar decades in the Netherlands, when nobody had heard of "flower power", student uproars, hippies or any other "altered states of perception" yet.
However, later on many people would come to embrace exactly those qualities of Johnny and his writing, that had made him such a loner before. The tide had truly changed in his favour, and he loved every minute of it.
Van Doorn died on 26 January 1991 in Amsterdam, at the age of 46.
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