Wivenhoe Bookshop Magazine & Newsletter | Tuesday 5 December 2023

Poetry Reading with Marian de Vooght

Event Details

One-off event
Date: 21/01/2023 | Venue: Wivenhoe Bookshop Shed
Time: 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

‘Song of Stars’

Poetry Reading with Marian de Vooght

3.00 – 4.30pm Sat 21st January

Wivenhoe Bookshop Shed

Tea and biscuits

This is a free event but please book your place (maximum four tickets per booking)

The theme for International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust this year highlights the ordinary people who let genocide happen, the ordinary people who actively perpetrated genocide, and the ordinary people who were persecuted.

Join us with Marian de Vooght who will read from her translation of Dutch poet and historian Guus Luijters’ Song of Stars, a book-length poem about the life and death of Sientje Abram.

She was an ordinary girl from a poor neighbourhood in Amsterdam who was murdered in Auschwitz in September 1942, when she was eleven. Unlike Anne Frank, Sientje did not leave any written record, nor did any of her family members, who were all murdered as well.

Guus Luijters was born not far from Rapenburger Street where Sientje lived during World War II and he used to wonder, when he was little, why the city was so empty after the war. Much later, he came across Sientje’s name as he was working on the monumental book In Memoriam, which documents all the names of the 17,964 Dutch Jewish, Roma and Sinti children who were killed in the Holocaust. He began to hear Sientje’s voice, telling him about her daily life, the things she liked and her worries when everything started to change. Song of Stars has two voices: the poet’s voice who imagines Sientje’s presence and asks what her life must have been like under Nazi oppression, and Sientje’s voice, giving us a perspective through the eyes of a child.

Guus Luijters, Song of Stars, published by Smokestack Books, was translated from the Dutch by Marian de Vooght. The book won an English Pen translation award in 2018.

About the Author & Translator


Guus Luijters is a historian, writer and poet. He has published more than thirty books and writes a daily column for the newspaper Het Parool.
Marian de Vooght is the editor (with Jean Boase-Beier) of The Holocaust Poetry Anthology. She has translated many writers from Dutch and Flemish, taught at the universities of Texas, Trondheim, Konstanz and East Anglia, and is currently a Visiting Fellow at the University of Essex.

Praise for Song of Stars

‘Should be made compulsory reading in schools throughout the land.’

London Grip

‘An act of resistance in increasingly fascist times.’

PN Review


Bookings closed