How do you celebrate a poet’s ninety-fifth birthday? It’s a rare enough milestone, but in almost a century surely everything’s been done at least once? In this case, the poet’s own full life suggested the answer. In addition to studying blood (he was once a haematologist) and writing poetry, Vroman has drawn, and sometimes painted, ever since his youth. Time, therefore, to turn attention to the last two of these.
Leo Vroman Tekenaar does this in a way that is infectiously attractive. In terms of size, the book fits in perfectly alongside Vroman’s poetry volumes. Most of his work, people-oriented as it is, is in portrait format, so it can all fit into a single presentation without wasting space. The pictures are broken up with pages of text on thin outserts, most of which are of characteristic fragments of prose. Poetry is added where it adds to the pictures. Vroman often puts himself into his drawings, and by comparing these with a number of photographs we can see to what extent this succeeds. (It does.)
Even without knowing his poetry it is impossible not to be impressed by the man’s unstoppable creativity. Where else can you find in one and the same life strip cartoons, surrealist dream landscapes, menus from a Japanese prison camp and computer graphics? The confident cover design wraps everything up in appropriate fashion.