A post by Peter Jordens.

Thomas de Veen reports for NRC Handelsblad that Radna Fabias’ poetry collection Habitus has been awarded the 2018 C. Buddingh’ Prize, the annual award for the best poetry debut in the Netherlands. Fabias, who was one of four nominees, was handed the 1,200-Euro prize during the recent Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam.

The Curaçao-born, Utrecht-based Fabias is the first black poet to win the C. Buddingh’ Prize. This year the prize was awarded for the thirtieth time.

Habitus is a collection with a strong narrative line, about a migrant who returns to her birthplace, an Antillean ‘island’. With her own, original images, drawn from a raw language style, and brought together in a compelling rhythm, Fabias shapes a migrant narrative in her very own way. The lyrical first person in her poems is confronted with a world where she no longer belongs, while she cannot pass society’s screening in the Netherlands either.

The jury, consisting of two poets and one critic, praised Fabias’ “raw outburst” and “the darkly humorous tone” in her collection: “[She is] a subversive voice that challenges origins, destiny, body and perspective and in so doing does not spare herself or the Other. This poetry is fleshy, at times divinely crude, breaks open Dutch poetic art unprecedentedly, and does away with safe verse.”

The official recognition for Habitus does not come as a surprise. Upon publication, her collection had already been lauded by literary critics. De Groene Amsterdammer called Habitus “a meaty, overwhelming poetry collection”; Trouw called it “powerful, clear like the Caribbean Sea, and just as colorful”; while NRC critic Obe Alkema also called it “a tremendous debut”. According to the Poëziekrant, Fabias has even written “the type of debut that comes along only once every ten years.”

For the original article (in Dutch), go to

Radna Fabias (1983) was born in Curaçao and came to the Netherlands when she was 17 years old. She studied at the Utrecht School of the Arts and the University of Amsterdam. In 2016 she won the poetry prize of the Belgian city of Oostende. Habitus is her debut poetry publication. She writes in Dutch.


Radna Fabias

Amsterdam: De Arbeiderspers, February 2018

114 pages

ISBN 978 90 2952 3806

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