An interview with M.H.H.Benders

Recently your latest book ‘O Kolle Klokkespin/Zeefjesdans came out. However, you made it clear that you won’t submit it to any review sites or the media. Why on earth would a writer or poet chose that particular stance?

Why would I need more reviews than I already have? Give my reviews to the young people, they need that sort of attention. I already have all the reviews I would ever need. Seriously, think about it: why should a poet ‘prove’ himself eternally with reviews? Who or what are you proving yourself to?

Well, isn’t the idea that by scoring positive reviews you make people curious who will then buy your books?

I am fifty now. If by now I failed to create my own readership then I have failed as a writer. But the truth is I know what I sell and I know that I am in fact one of the better selling poets of the Netherlands. And I know what ‘reviews’ cause: zilch. You can get reviews on amateur sites like Tzum or Meander and they won’t cause even a single sold copy. 

That’s odd. So positive reviews dont cause sales in the Netherlands?

None whatsoever. It’s because people get torpeded with such fake positivity all day for the last 20 years. If  1000 books appear and they cause 3000 positive reviews, where in reality there should be ONE positive review – then you have a toxic wasteland of false positivity that in my opinion is political.

Political? Why?

Smoke curtains are always political. There are forces that are out to destroy literature and intelligence in general, and this is a particularily brilliant way of going about it. Drench everything in fake positivity and no one will read anything anymore. 

Isn’t that…a paranoid conspiracy theory? One could well attribute this decline into mediocrity by a general decline of human intelligence caused by polluted food, microplastics, and pollution in general?

If it would be natural there wouldnt have been emitted works from the oeuvre of Slauerhoff.

Say what?

Certain works that were deemed ‘too political’ were emitted from the collected Works of Slauerhoff by political influence on so-called established publishers. 

That’s cold, hard censorship!

It indeed is, and it’s structural censorship here in the Netherlands. The mediocre-left has struck some sort of deal with conservative religious forces and together they ‘domanite’ the canon by all means necissary. It’s quite a disgusting sight. 

So what can readers do who are curious about your works?

You can buy them, and if you have never read my works, buy them on blind faith. There is something beautiful about buying stuff on blind faith. Nobody cares about toxic positivity or selfpromotion – they have us all cornered where they want us, eternally promoting ourselves on social media, without any effect at all. 

Don’t buy into that. Listen to your inner voice, start feeding yourself real things, create your own space. instead of being the filler of someone elses profits. 

Thank you Mr Benders for this short interview.

Thank you too. And don’t forget: donate my reviews to the youngsters. And breathe! Breathe as much as you possibly can!

Martijn Benders has published twenty-six books, eighteen of which are in Dutch. He has been named one of the greatest talents of his time by critics like Komrij and Gerbrandy. He has also written three philosophical works, one of which is in English about the Amanita Muscaria, the Fly Agaric. Publishing on the international stage of The Philosophical Salon, he has also gained international recognition as one of the most remarkable thinkers from the Netherlands.