Ramsey Nasr in Grand Finale of High Impact Literature Festival

Ramsey Nasr reading Part III (Adagio) of his poem Heavenly Life

High Impact

They are the LOW COUNTRY LITERATI: all prize-winners and best-sellers back home, all writing in Dutch but from two different countries – Belgium and the Netherlands. Now for the first time, and in a unique collaboration, six of the best Dutch-language storytellers are coming together for a rock star-style tour of 6 British cities – to perform for their British public and to discover what they may (or may not!) have in common.

Sponsored by Flanders House and the Netherlands Embassy in London, HIGH IMPACT is a unique idea with a unique group of writers. You’ll hear the Dutch Poet Laureate side by side with Belgium’s leading graphic novelist; two global best-sellers, a thriller writer, a celebrated historian and a travel writer – together on stage every night. Selected from across Flanders and the Netherlands not only for their brilliant books but also for their wit, wisdom, fluent English and HIGH IMPACT performance skills, these authors will wow you with their readings and ideas. Each night a different city, a different theme, a different type of venue (a church, theatre, an arts centre). The HIGH IMPACT of LOW COUNTRIES LITERATURE will reach its peak at their last event, in London, where the authors will be joined by UK writers Tracy Chevalier and Deborah Moggach, famous for writing on Dutch themes (The Girl With The Pearl Earring and Tulip Fever respectively).


Lieve Joris: whose journalism & non-fiction books on Africa, China, the Middle East & Europe have earned her the reputation as the VS Naipaul or Ryszard Kapuscinski of the Low Countries. Author of the acclaimed The Rebel’s Hour (Atlantic, 2008);

Herman Koch: former actor & comedy star; best-selling novelist – in the Netherlands & around the world – of the thrilling, chilling mega-hit The Dinner (Atlantic, 2012);

Ramsey Nasr: the Dutch Poet Laureate & all-round Renaissance Man (actor, director, poet, journalist & librettist), famed for his beautiful prose, provocative politics & dynamic public poetry readings. His first English-language collection is Heavenly Life (Banipal Books, 2010).

‘With this collection Anglophone readers are introduced to a poet of global scope.’ Marilyn Hacker

Peter Terrin: this year’s winner of the prestigious AKO Literature Prize & author of the magnificent psychological thriller The Guard (Maclehose Press, 2012);

Chika Unigwe: born in Nigeria, at home in Belgium; poet, short story writer & award-winning novelist of On Black Sisters’ Street (Vintage, 2009):

Judith Vanistendael: the Posy Simmonds of Belgium; the bold & brilliant graphic novelist of When David Lost His Voice (Self Made Hero, 2012).

With special guest appearances from Geert Mak, the HIGH IMPACT superstar historian and essayist; author of In Europe (Harvill Secker, 2007) & The Bridge (Vintage; 2009); described as 'Peter Ackroyd meets W.G Sebald'.


Ramsey NasrPrize-winning poet, essayist, dramatist and actor, Ramsey Nasr was born in 1974 in Rotterdam into a Palestinian-Dutch family. In 2009 he was voted Poet Laureate of the Netherlands. A man of many passions, including classical music, drama, poetry and travels.

The poems in Heavenly Life were selected by the poet from his collections and from works written while poet laureate, translated by the award-winning David Colmer. The collection includes also the poem which voted Nasr into his laureate post – in the Netherlands the laureate is chosen by popular vote. Another is a three-part poem inspired by the life of Dmitri Shostakovich and based on his Sonata for Viola and Piano. The title poem Heavenly Life, meanwhile, was written to commemorate the 150h anniversary of Gustav Mahler’s birth and is based on his Fourth Symphony, the four sections of the poem echoing the structure, tone and length of its movements. It is named after “Das himmlische Leben”, the song that forms the symphony’s finale. Ramsey Nasr wowed audiences at London's South Bank Centre in 2010, and then last year at the LRB's World Literature Weekend. Don't miss the chance to meet and hear him on the HIGH IMPACT tour.

To listen to Ramsey Nasr interviewed on The Forum, BBC World Service, click here.

Ramsey Nasr was published in Banipal 35, Writing in Dutch (2009), his poetry so impressive Banipal Books felt he had to have a whole book in English. To read some selected poems from the Banipal issue, click here.

To buy a copy of Heavenly Life, follow this link.



Monday 14 January:
Oxford: Blackwell’s Bookshop
(51 Broad Street  Oxford, OX1 3BQ)

Tuesday 15 January:
Birmingham: The Anglican Cathedral, with Writing West Midlands
(Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2QB)

Wednesday 16 January:
Liverpool: The Epstein Theatre
(Hanover House, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ)

Thursday 17 January:
Sheffield: St George’s Church Lecture Theatre, with the University of Sheffield
(17 Mappin Street Sheffield S1 4DT)

Friday 18 January:
Norwich: Norwich Arts Centre
(St. Benedict's Street, Norwich, NR2 4PG)

Saturday 19 January:
London: The Tabernacle
(35 Powis Square London W11 2AY). An evening of literature and music with the Low Countries Literati joined by UK writers with Dutch links – Tracy Chevalier & Deborah Moggach.

You want a High Impact literary event? Look no further!

Tickets on sale at all venues

Published Date - 19/01/2013