Poem in memoriam David Foster Wallace

English translation of Flemish poet Geert Buelens‘ poem “(i.m. dfw)”
published in the last issue of the literary journal yang (2008, #4)
as part of a tribute to David Foster Wallace


(in memoriam dfw)


i am here


in a cunning pan slipping up

and wondering

wondering wondering wondering

what if and whether and



could it go on like that

when your mind unfolds

like a glitch


mosaic affinity


come on now, you can’t possibly

mean that

this is how you’re wired

not buying it

is your default setting


always seeing things differently

keeping options open

deploying pain management

as knowledge acquisition

understanding knowledge processing as

pain management

not everything is a language game

because everything is

but not everything is green

you know

not everything


as if it just came to be

in writing


Translated by Piet Joostens and Iannis Goerlandt – April 2010

Geert Buelens (Belgium, 1971) is a poet and Professor of Modern Dutch Literature at the University of Utrecht. In 2001 he attracted a lot of media attention with a book on the Flemish avant-garde poet Paul van Ostaijen and his influence on twentieth-century poetry in Flanders. This study was awarded the prestigious triennial Flemish Culture Prize for Essays in 2003, and has been widely acknowledged as the reference work on the experimental tradition in twentieth-century Flemish poetry. 

In 2002, Buelens published his first collection of poems: Het is (‘It is’), which was awarded the Lucy B. en C.W. van der Hoogt-prize. In 2005, Buelens published his second collection of poems, Verzeker u (‘Ensure’). In 2008 he published Europa, Europa, an essay book about the effect of the First World War on modern poetry, in which he tries to contextualise the poetics of great European poets such as Rilke, Pessoa, Mayakovsky and Apollinaire.

Buelens has an extraordinary ear for rhythm and sound and is strongly influenced by twentieth-century American poetry. As a former editor of the literary magazine yang he translated American poets such as Bruce Andrews, Michael Palmer and Louis Zukofsky and edited a special issue of yang on LANGUAGE-poetry. At first sight his poetry appears to be difficult, and while it can hardly be called simple, it is never uncomprehensible. Rather, it links the quest for the appropriate linguistic structure with the everyday struggle of the lyrical protagonist.

(Maarten Crappé on Poetry International Web)