Poet Erik Lindner, Words Are the Worst

5 March, 2023

Erik Lindner / 3 Poems


Words are the Worst is available from Vehicle Press.

Author of the recent collection Words are the Worst, translated from the Dutch, Erik Linder lives in Amsterdam. Shortlisted for the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry, Words are the Worst has received some interesting reviews:

“Lindner’s poetry cuts into the quotidian mise en scène to lay bare illuminating juxtapositions across time and space. What is left on the screen of the page opens up another way of seeing, rife with amazement and curiosity.” —Montreal Review of Books

“With a cinematic eye, Erik Lindner tracks the traces of human activity. The poems in Words are the Worst, awash in reflections and flotsam, illuminated by sea air, tease out meaning and motive from the everyday. Fleeting pleasures – a picnic, juicy apple, train ride, stride into the surf – dissolve in a moment. We are left with a plaintive searching song in which the simplest actions become enigmatic.” —Kateri Lanthier






Tokens of Identity


What counts is that things should somehow make sense,
the chance to be part of a whole, belong to a group,
a collective. People getting changed between
the low hedges by the barbed
wire round the dunes.

Playing cards drop on an outspread towel, the picnic
under cloth in a wicker basket, sand heaped
over a bottle from the distillery where
one of us has worked that day. Like
everyone else we run to the sea

and back again, tap out the sand from our shoes on the path,
embrace what was left unsaid in every conversation
when we say goodbye and feel inconsolable
in a streetcar as the driver announces
the stops to his only passenger.




The garden lies between the road and the window
I saw through my dream by standing up in it

and still you shrug your shoulders
amidst what’s embracing you

that cartwheel and that brick path
the chair which just stays put

how quietly streetcar seven to hoboken
circles round the tables outside café athene

one tree is lighter than the other
on the ground the sunlight falls on your feet.




A stairway leads into the sea
a wave breaks across a step

a ship is pulling on its chains
bulging out its hull

a driver opens the door of the moving car
and spits the betelnut onto the receding ground

a rolling cigarette sprays a circle of sparks

leaves patter against the passing carriage
on the metro a man’s still wearing his helmet

there’s the rain putting out the fire

there’s a dog guarding two sheep
and trotting up and down the field

walk down a stairway

push off from a step.


Erik Lindner is a poet, born in 1968 in The Hague, The Netherlands. His book Words are the Worst, translated into English by Francis R. Jones, was published by Vehicule Press / Signal editions and shortlisted fort he Derek Walcott Poetry Prize. Erik Lindner lives and works as a freelance writer in Amsterdam and has published six collections of poetry and two novels in Dutch. Nach Akedia, translated into German by Rosemarie Still and published with Matthes & Seitz Verlag Berlin, was a recommendation by the German Academy. His work is also translated and published in several collections in French and Italian.

collectiveidentityindividual freedompoetic imageryworld poetry

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