Veel Haarlemmers zullen hem wel kennen, of op z’n minst wel eens van hem gehoord hebben: Joshua Baumgarten. De van oorsprong New Yorker woont nu al heel wat jaren in Haarlem en heeft hier ook zijn eigen winkel/expositieruimte: the Irrational Library.

Joshua Baumgarten

Daarnaast schrijft Joshua gedichten en voelt hij zich erg betrokken bij de stad. Nooit te beroerd om zijn tijd en stem te lenen aan evenementen als Parksessies en recent Begane Grond. Onder de naam The Irrational Liberary band is hij sinds kort een project begonnen waarbij hij zijn gedichten voordraagt onder begeleiding van een band met niemand minder dan onze stadsdominee en columnist, Tom de Haan, op bariton sax en gitaar. Zoals ze zelf zeggen:  “The Irrational Library is a new project crossing the streams of spoken word poetry and get down boogie for your brain rock ’n roll music.”
Nieuwsgierig? Luisteren kun je hier.

Gesproken woord

De betrokkenheid bij de stad en de liefde voor het geproken woord maken een prima combinatie om te gaan voor het stadsdichterschap.  Joshua heeft dan ook een gedicht over Haarlem ingezonden, maar heeft helaas te horen gekregen dat hij niet bij de laatste vijf zit die straks meedingen naar het stadsdichterschap. Nu vindt hij het niet erg als dat is omdat de andere inzendingen beter zijn, maar hij zou het jammer vinden als dat is omdat zijn gedichten (deels) in het Engels zijn. Dus vraagt hij de mensen van Haarlem wat ze van zijn gedicht over Haarlem vinden en hem te steunen in het vrije woord, in welke taal dan ook en hem te supporten in het toegankelijk maken van gedichten voor en over het volk in plaats van alleen poëzie voor puristen.

Hieronder het gedicht en de ingezonden brief van Joshua Baumgarten, zodat iedereen zelf zijn of haar mening kan vormen: laat vooral weten wat je er van vindt.

Joshua Baumgarten for stadsdichterHaarlemtown 2016


Haarlemmers one and all,
dressed in designer denim,

broken down corduroy,
jassen met bontkraag,
organic cotton and
Sport City spandex.

my city of muggen
of somber
bijzonder buuren.

A village of idiosyncratic inwoners
who give and create
to make my beloved city radiate
like a beacon of enduring illumination.

My cultuurstad of calm
between the bacchanal
of het strand in Bloemendaal
and the nonchalant chaos of
tolerance around De Wallen.

after sixteen years together
I am still filled with wonder,
but now ponder
what ever happened to
the eccentric citizens
who once captivated the streets
of Haarlemtown.

These bloemrijker burgers of unpredictability,
replaced by LifeStyle shop patrons
of middle class tax bracket normality,
blank faces of Haarlemtown
botoxed, bearded, bronzed
all except for Piet,
who remains as black as night,
cause in Haarlemtown
consumer comforts,
like sushi, beer and espresso
are for some,
belangrijker than expanding
one’s insight.

I know you
wanted to
share this
with you.

I see you,
try not to judge
engage you,
pay attention
and listen
to you,
my Haarlemtown.

For I am your conscience
as much as
you are mine
and in this way

are intertwined.

my city of muggen”

Haarlem  25-11-2016

From the desk of The Irrational Library,

To the jury members of the Haarlem’s Stadsdichter Verkiezingen.

My name is Joshua Baumgarten and I hereby offer myself up as candidate for the Haarlemse Stadsdichter Verkiezingen with my poem “Haarlemtown 2016”.  As some of you may know me but for those of you who do not, I have been a member of the Haarlem community for the last sixteen years.  As a poet I have been active in the Haarlem community for even longer.  My reasons for returning to and settling in Haarlem after my first visits here, were to be back amongst my new Haarlem friends and family and to write.  I had been writing since I was a teenager but only found my work flourishing and progressing while here in my new home of Haarlemtown. Since my first visits to Haarlem and ever since establishing a life here, I have published four chapbooks and one full length book of poems with their roots of inspiration in the soil of Haarlem .  From my earlier chapbooks “Satori in Haarlem” and “The Things I Have Seen in the Early Days of Spring” to my first full length book of poems “The Poetry of Modern Urban Hope” released last December via The Irrational Library Press, I have always remained with my pen ingrained in the pulse of Haarlemtown.  My writings have their roots in this city.  My poems speak to the inhabitants of Haarlem as well as to the world beyond the Amsterdamsevaart.

The Stadsdichter must be an ambassador for the city he or she represents.  As an expatriot from New York State I do see Haarlem just a little bit different from those born and raised here.  But after living in Haarlem for longer than a decade I have become intergrated into the city itself.  I know its people and its people know me.  From hosting the Parksessies in the Hout to the Jupiler Podium at Bevrijdingspop and my own cultural hub of nonconformity, The Irrational Library shop in De Vijfhoek, I have become a recognizable face in Haarlem.  I have earned my place amongsts its people and find it a unique pleasure to get to do what I do, for and with Haarlemmers.

As a spoken word poet and performer I have travelled the Netherlands from top to bottom and recited alongside some The Netherlands most exciting poets.  I have also had the pleasure of inviting poets from around The Netherlands and the globe to Haarlem to perform in The Irrational Library shop as well as on the evenings I organize for the last twelve years in the Patronaat.  Via my evenings in the Patronaat, as well as during events in my shop I am able to provide a stage for beginning poets to get a taste for the stage and what it is like to share their poetry with a public.  This is an exciting oppurtunity for them as well as myself.  It is in the creating of oppurtunity for others that we open doors that help create a more engaged community.

Now, you may be asking yourself can there be an American English language poet as the Stadsdichter of Haarlem?  Well, there was nothing stated in the rules on the website, so that being said…I believe that as Haarlem itself grows from being a village, a “dorp” into an increasingly larger “international and world city” that the Stadsdichter needs to engage as many of Haarlems inhabitants as possible.  By allowing me the possibility of becoming Stadsdichter I have the potential to reach out and connect not only with Haarlem’s native population but the expat english speaking community building their lifes here as well.  Poetry should be for all the people and learning a new language does not happen overnight.  In addition if elected as Haarlems Stadsdichter I plan of working closely with native speaking Dutch poets who could best assist me translate those poems that I would write for this specific job. In that way I can present to the city and to all of the citizens of Haarlem, poetry that they can understand and ingest.

In closing I would like to thank you all for your time and consideration in choosing me as a possible candidate for the Stadsdichterschap of Haarlem.  I hope you enjoy my newest poem, “Haarlemtown 2016”.  Like Haarlem itself, this poem was at times exhilarating and exhausting to puzzle together.  Though in the end, it just leaves me proud to be part of this our city, Haarlemtown.

Thank you,

Joshua Baumgarten

The Irrational Library

Wat vind jij? Moet Joshua Baumgarten alsnog genomineerd worden voor stadsdichter? Laat het weten in de comments of op Facebook.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here