Raptors by Toon Tellegen translated by Judith Wilkinson
With the economy of proverbs and the psychological insight of a novel, Toon Tellegen’s acclaimed sequence Raptors depicts the dynamics of a family held hostage by the mood-swings and histrionics of a father, a figure both comic and terrifying, grotesque and pathetic. Tellegen’s mercurial imagination evokes the dark archetypes of European folklore and reanimates them with a sophisticated sense of the endless fluidity of relationships, the instability of interpretation. An improvisation on a theme, circling back to ‘my father’ at the start of each poem, Raptors builds to a story without narrative, its extravagant imaginative leaps into absurdity held within a framework of tender observation. Toon Tellegen’s translator Judith Wilkinson has worked closely with the poet to create English poems that capture the startling clarity and inventiveness of the original Dutch. Raptors has the rewarding intensity of a modern classic.