High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Lize Spit: All We Hold
© Lieve Blancquaert
© Lieve Blancquaert © Lieve Blancquaert
Friday Verses

Lize Spit: All We Hold

This week's Friday Verses are written by the acclaimed Flemish writer Lize Spit. We translated Heel ons houden (All We Hold). This poem first appeared in Dutch in Het Liegend Konijn, a magazine for contemporary Dutch-language poetry.

Lize Spit (Viersel, b. 1988) published her debut novel Het Smelt (The Melting) in 2016, which sold more than 200,000 copies. It was followed by translations in sixteen countries and a film adaptation, to be released in spring 2023. The book won numerous awards. Lize works as a guest lecturer in creative writing. She is a columnist at the daily newspaper De Morgen. Her second novel was published in December 2020: Ik ben er niet (I am not here): She has been asked to write the 2023 Book Week gift.

All We Hold

clinging with all we hold to
a lump that maybe who knows could be

the prognosis: all the rooms can stay but you, the skeleton key
that opens all the doors cannot

what am I saying, which truth
has me wading through the drying water
which sheep am I carrying
to graze on your bank, what am I sacrificing

which locks can I hack out yet from which of those doors?

something’s crossed you on the inside, it can’t
be clipped, it swallows your gulps

your pre-recorded telephone voice
hi, it’s me, I can’t take your call
soon to be a souvenir carved out of silence

(Dutch version below the photo)

Heel ons houden

met heel ons houden vastgeklampt
aan een bultje dat dan toch wie weet misschien

de prognose: alle kamers mogen blijven maar jij, de loper
die de deuren ervan opent, niet

wat spreek ik uit, voor welke waarheid
waad ik door het droger geworden water
welke schaapjes breng ik nog naar jouw overkant
om daar te grazen, wat offer ik

welke sloten breek ik alsnog uit welke van jouw kamers?

iets dwarsboomt je van binnenuit, knotten
is geen optie, het slorpt je slikken op

je opgenomen antwoordstem
hallo met mij ik ben er niet
straks een uit je zwijgen gebeiteld souvenir


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