Diary Note 58: RIP Hans Magnus Enzensberger

The passing on November 24th of Hans Magnus Enzensberger, a European intellectual born in Germany in 1929, touches me personally.

During and after the years that I was involved in Poetry International Rotterdam he was a constant friend. He even participated in the short-lived adventure of DAM, a vehicle for poetry in translation, as a member of the advisory board. (The editorial board consisted of Martin Mooij, Laurens Vancrevel and myself). DAM was a natural product of the immense multilingual translation workshop that Poetry International Rotterdam had become. If I remember well, Breyten Breytenbach suggested abbreviating ‘Rotterdam’ to ‘DAM’ as a title.

I had to leave for the National Social and Cultural Planning Office in 1979 and lost contact for a while with this adventure. But Hans Magnus was always available for advice and even took part in the Muiderslot conference with the national Unesco committee to revive the idea of an international poetry translation program.

1984, Muiderslot, Muiden

Hans Magnus was like me profoundly formed by the experience of the second World War. It had shattered any belief in nationalism as a creative force and we were looking for platforms for worldwide reflection and yes: poetry. He remains in my memory as a kind of marketer of a poetry of mankind.