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Haiku writings by Henk Luijten

written by Vincent Huying

28 February 2022

Haiku writings by Henk Luijten


Introduction to the Haiku writings by Henk Luijten. These Haikus were originally written by Henk in his native language Dutch. Shortly after we got acquainted Camille made the illustrations for the writings. Not familiar with Dutch as a language yet, it was a project through which Camille made herself familiar with some of the aspects of the Dutch language. To catch the gist of the poems and translate  the words into an image. She translated the Dutch poems into English.

Illustrated and translated into English by Camille Wilkinson

How we met and how the project came about

Shortly after Camille came to the Netherlands in 2018 after we married in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A. One of the first things we both participated in, was the yearly Christmas choir of Reade (say: ray-ad-deh). Reade is the name of the rehabilitation centre located at the Overtoom in Amsterdam. It was at this choir where we met Henk Luijten and where the beginning of this project started.

Reade and the Christmas Celebration

After Vincent’s bicycle accident he rehabilitated in this facility in 2015. He also did voluntary work there from 2016 to 2018. The voluntary work consisted of bringing clients, who weren’t mobile enough, from their rooms to the different therapists. Getting to know the personnel, also brought him in contact with Elsbeth. Elsbeth is one of the spiritual caretakers at Reade as a reverend and/or pastor. She also organizes the yearly Christmas service. 

One of the important aspects of the service is that it is open to every one. Regardless of your background, preference, belief or religion. But the service is specifically for those who need to remain in the rehabilitation centre during the holidays. So, for everybody who wants, or feels the need to attend, or support a  loved-one. Although it must be added that the service has a oecomenical christian aspect, where it celebrates the birth of Jesus.

More examples of Haiku writings from Henk Luijten in Dutch and English

The Reade Christmas Choir

An inseparable element of the service is the choir. The choir sings several religious and spiritual songs during the service. To take the celebratory function beyond the religious celebration. The chorus also performs as a singing  act after  the service. Further supporting the celebration with clients of the centre, their friends and family, with popular cChristmas carols. The choir consists of former and present clients, friends and employees. As does the team of supporting musicians and the conductor. 

Singing as a therapeutic element

For some clients the choir also has a distinct therapeutic value. Singing is a means to help people rediscover their voices. And it is amazing to see and hear what those once injured voices are capable of. For that particular matter, it doesn’t really matter how good the participants are. Participating and sharing in itself is what is about. 

At the choir we met Henk

At the Reade choir it was where we met Henk Luijten. All together we sang our songs on the 2018 and 2019 Christmas celebration. Henk too had been a former client of Reade. At the time we met, he was still using the ambulatory service of Reade. When the practicing for the singing ended in 2019, Henk expressed his wish we would be able to also meet outside of the choir setting. 

Meeting outside the choir, getting to know Henk and his writings

At our first meeting, which took place at Café Keppler in Amsterdam, Henk told us he used to be a journalist for an economic Dutch periodical, but was now retired. Being retired from his former profession he conveyed he had taken up writing poetry again. Writing poetry is one of his true passions. Being writers ourselves we answered we were very much interested in his poetic writings. 

Camille told what our plans for the WONDERHOUSE were and that she was also interested in Henk’s Haikus professionally. She offered Henk to make the illustrations for his writings. The three of us considered this a mutual opportunity, and for Camille especially, to become more acquainted with the Dutch language as a source.

Designing the illustrations for the Haikus writings of Henk Luijten

From this first meeting on we have met Henk several times. Either to discuss the progress for the illustrations alongside Henk’s words. Or, for showing our mutual creative endeavors. And of course, for the translations we made for Henk’s Haikus from Dutch to English.

Last but not least to also convey where we are at the present time, with the development of our website. What inspires us and how we all held our heads up during the time the world was confronted with the pandemic.

More examples of Haiku writings from Henk Luijten in Dutch and English

Haikus, Dutch sayings and translation

Of course, Henk used some Dutch sayings for his Haikus. Sayings that on the one hand give his writings depth. On the other hand they imposed a difficulty. For there is no direct translation for the particular Dutch saying into English. That’s also what we now find one of the beauties of this project. It has become a means to enrich both languages. An enrichment with meaning and understanding which otherwise would have been kept on the obscure pages of each language’s dictionary. 

Did Camille’s design of the illustrations enhance her Dutch?

Well, she definitely saw it as a challenge. As we both did. It certainly helped us both understand and confirm the limitations of each language and its particular translation. That is to say, to translate back and forth. By translating just once, it wouldn’t have been possible to get the gist. Either from the Dutch to English. Or vice versa. 

So, definitely, it enhanced Camille’s comprehension of the Dutch language. Does that mean she can now speak it fluently? Not yet, it most certainly helped her to better understand the basics. However she still has difficulty with the Dutch sentence structure, in which the subject almost always comes last. Understanding that, makes a Dutch native speaker, like myself, comprehend much better what this Dutch language of ours, makes it so difficult for other tongues to try to speak it.

We hope you like the Haiku writings by Henk Luijten

Under the writing category you will find the Haiku writings by Henk Luijten. We naturally hope you will read them and appreciate them. As for the illustrations by Camille, we hope they will indeed enhance the meaning of Henk’s writing and that this very project may be an example and of assistance. As a means to help each and one another to understand each other better, beyond the borders of our native languages.

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