The Writer’s Block: An Interview with Hélène Gelèns
The Writer’s Block is an ongoing video series of interviews with visiting writers at City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. In these Q&A’s, conducted on Sampsonia Way, writers sit down with us to discuss literature, their craft, and career. View all previous interviews here.
Hélène Gelèns is a writer of poetry, essays, and short prose. Her debut Niet Beginnen Bij Het Hoofd (2006) was shortlisted for the C. Buddingh’ Prize for New Dutch Poetry and her second collection of poetry Zet af en Zweef (2010) was awarded the prestigious Jan Campert Prize. A third collection will be published this fall. Gelèns’s poetry has been translated in five languages.
On April 17th Gelèns talked with us on Sampsonia Way’s block. This street on Pittsburgh’s North Side is where City of Asylum/Pittsburgh has a row of houses for writers in exile, all of which are adorned with original artwork.
Gelèns appears in front of the Jazz House, a yellow and blue house on the alley covered inside and outside by murals and ornaments designed by musician, poet and painter, Oliver Lake.
Gelèns and other Dutch poets came to Pittsburgh by invitation of City of Asylum Pittsburgh. The event was presented in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s “Distinctively Dutch” festival, the Consulate General of the Netherlands, the Dutch Foundation for Literature, Kleine Revolutie Producties, and Lira.