By Radna Fabias
Translated by David Colmer
Winner of the 2019 Grand Poetry Prize of the Netherlands
Winner of the Aan Zee Poetry Debut Prize
Winner of the C Buddinhh’ Prize
Winner of the Awater Poetry Prize
Winner of the Herman de Coninck Prize
An explosive entry into the world of poetry from Radna Fabias, the most acclaimed debut poet ever in the Dutch language.
Read "demonstrable effort made" and "the blackness of the hole" in Granta
Read "is, is like," Poetry Daily's poem of the day
Publication Date: October 12, 2021
Subversive, visual, and bold, Curaçao-born Dutch Radna Fabias’ explosive debut collection Habitus marks the entry of a genre-altering poet. Habitus is a collection full of thrilling sensory images, lines in turn grim and enchanting which move from the Caribbean island of Curaçao to the immigrant experience of the Netherlands. Fabias’ intrepid masterpiece explores issues of racism, neo-colonialism, poverty, and sexism with a heartbreaking rhythm and endless nuance.
Broken into three parts (“View with coconut,” “Rib,” and “Demonstrable effort made”), Habitus explores the profound struggles of melancholic longing, womanhood, religion, and migration. This ambitious, powerful, and compassionate collection has emerged, cheering on ambiguity, fluidity, and a lyrical ego on a quest to find its home.
Radna Fabias was born on the Caribbean island of Curaçao and moved to the Netherlands to study at the age of seventeen. Her first collection of poetry, Habitus, was published in 2018 to universal acclaim and went on to win an unprecedented five Dutch and Belgian poetry prizes. Habitus has also been translated into French, with Spanish, German, and Italian editions in production
David Colmer is an Australian translator who lives in Amsterdam. He has won many prizes, including the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (both with novelist Gerbrand Bakker), and most recently the James Brockway Prize for his translations of Dutch poetry.
“Moving from the Caribbean Island of Curaçao to the Netherlands, this debut collection explores neocolonialism, poverty, religion and womanhood.” —“Globetrotting,” New York Times
“The reader is energetically flung through space by the irregular stanza breaks, enjambment, and narrative trajectories that feel fresh and unpredictable…Everything lonely and broken is raised by Fabias not into some utopian vision but into humanness. Readers will be humbled by the revelations of such a surreal and turbulent intelligence.” —Megan Fernandes, Harriet Books (Poetry Foundation)
“Radna Fabias practices her craft in the spirit of a stranger and strangeness, liberty and lyricism, truth and transience.” —Matt Sutherland, Foreword Reviews
“Radna Fabias’s debut collection Habitus advances geographically, temporally, and thematically—almost narratively—yet at the same time feels resonantly still, as though each line echoes the entire collection…[Fabias] grapevines between moments of beauty/intimacy and biting, ironic assessments of the speaker’s surroundings.” —Action Books
“'The juiciest lie is splendor,' one poem in Radna Fabias’s incantatory Habitus begins, and reading the book I couldn’t get those words out of my head. Another poem tells us of 'the wall that wasn’t there' that 'didn’t fall,' saying 'there were no explosives it wasn’t a war nothing blew up.' There is something extraordinary happening in this book, something recursive and apophatic and totally, somehow, unprecedented. 'i peel the prints from my fingers,' she writes. It’s an unforgettable collection, among the best debuts I’ve read in ages." —Kaveh Akbar, Pilgrim Bell
“I was stunned and thrilled by these poems. They have a confident, clear, strange, wild energy, along with the rage and wisdom and humor of a soul who understands the terrors and beauties of this world. They are the electric record of an exceptional imagination. I love these poems and can’t wait to see what’s next.” —Matthew Zapruder, Why Poetry and Father’s Day