M. H. Benders
Benders’ first collection of poetry was the critically acclaimed Karavanserai (2008, Nieuw Amsterdam), for which he was nominated for the C. Buddingh Poetry prize. Since then Benders – similar to American poet Bill Knott – has chosen to self-publish his work, in large part as a principled stance against nepotism, "cronyism," narcissism, and ineptness that he argues prevail in the subsidised and publicly recognized literary world, institutions, and festivals.
His poetry has absurdist, conceptualist and lyrical elements and seems to have little to do with his public stunts that, some argue, are mainly there because of his contempt for the Dutch world of literature, a feature he shares with Dutch poet Gerrit Komrij.
Benders published his first poetry book titled 'Karavanserai' in 2008, with Nieuw Amsterdam publishers. He got nominated for the prestigious Buddingh prize for the book, but staged a Laibach-esque performance on the awards, where Bart van der Pligt read an Anti-Price poem and Samuel Vriezen wearing a fake moustache yelled the prize had to be taken seriously from within the audience. Benders sang 'Lezen is Lezen' ('Reading is reading') from a dark corner, to the tune of the known 'Life is Life' song of the Austrian band Opus
In 2011 Benders sabotaged the National Turing Poetry contest by simultaneously sending in poems that ended in the top 100, sending in a song about Jury Member Gerrit Komrij (Kom nou Mr Komrij) based on Frankly Mr Shankly of the Smiths) and making an alternate character named 'Bert' that severely criticized the quality of the top 100. Ramsey Nasr, the National Poet, gave a raving speech against 'Bert' at the nominations Gala day, not knowing it was Benders, and claimed Bert was just jealous for not making it into the Top 100.
After this successful action Benders vowed to stop this particular artform. He left his publisher and self-published a second volume of poetry named 'Wat koop ik voor jouw donkerwilde machten, Willem' ('What do I buy for your darkwilde powers, William') with 91 poems, which got raving reviews on major poetry sites but was ignored by the poetry magazine establishment.
In February 2013 Benders, as a situationist artwork, put a Bill Knott poem into the Turing National Poetry contest. Benders was present with 2 poems in the Top 20, but sent the Sesame Street character 'Bert' to collect the nomination. The jury took several ressentimental jibes at Bert, which he recorded and remixed into a video named '36 Euro'.
Much of Benders’ work combines not only literary styles, such as lyrical, conceptual, satirical, and absurdist influences; his work also moves across genres, media and modes. Some examples are: his Laibach-inspired performance at a poetry award including an Anti-Prize poem and choreographed chants from within the audience, and a fake moustache; several submissions to poetry contests intended as playful self-referential critique of poetry institutions and contests as such; Wôld, Wôld, Wôld! (2013) a personalized poetry book, including dedications and assignments to the reader, poems in Dutch and English, concrete poems, images. Stubbing Out a Cigarette on a Nightingale will be Benders’ first English language poetry collection. In 2014, Dutch publisher van Gennep has republished some of Benders’ works that had only been available as self-published prints.
Books published by Martijn Benders include:
- 1999 - Boekhouders en draken en de schouders waarop zij soms willen uithuilen (POD)
- 2004 - Het dolpension van de hemel (Dunya Publishers)
- 2008 - Karavanserai (Nieuw Amsterdam)
- 2011 - Wat koop ik voor jouw donkerwilde machten, Willem (POD)
- 2013 - Wôld Wôld Wôld (POD)
- 2014 - De essentiële Martinus Benders (Stanza)
- 2014 - Wat koop ik voor jouw donkerwilde machten, Willem (Van Gennep)
- 2014 - Stubbing out a Cigarette on a Nightingale (Vlak Publishers)
- 2015 - Het Boek der Dode Uilen (POD)
- 2015 - Sauseschritt (Van Gennep)
- 2016 - Lippenspook (Van Gennep)
- 2016 - Fliermans passage (Van Gennep, novel)