“It is her most daring and possibly most personal collection to date, in the sense that the poet’s voice sounds more pervasively forceful than ever” (Helena Van Praet, Poëziekrant)

“The best-kept secret of Dutch poetry. Rozalie Hirs writes poems like no one else does. Lyrical, musical, intuitive and very precise.” (Joost Baars, De Dolfijn)

“That way the words of Hirs, who is also active as a composer, are like music: the chords flow into one another rhythmically, quite oblivious of the boundaries of a sentence.” (Jeroen Dera, De Standaard)

“Hirs has managed to fashion a very urgent contemporary problem, climate change, into a lyrical stream of words. Doing so, she connects the magic of poetry to the biting irony of protest.” (Helena Van Praet, Poëziekrant)

“The reader of this collection will be poised between despair and being profoundly moved.” (Dietske Geerlings, Tzum)

“This is because Hirs succeeds at seamlessly weaving together climate problems and (poetic) images of what makes us human, such as love or spirituality.” (Helena Van Praet, Poëziekrant)

“These verses without punctuation teem with ambiguities.” (Jeroen Dera, De Standaard)

“In other words, language has a dual function here: the words in these poems do not merely call our behavior into question, they also render homage to the unendingness of nature, life, and our imagination. This vital idea of space helps to explain why Hirs hardly uses any punctuation and tends toward destabilizing techniques such as apokoinou and asyndeton, such that sentences seem to run on forever. Hirs’s masterful use of apokoinou is to be understood in this context of a condensed, vitalist manner of communicating.” (Helena Van Praet, Poëziekrant)

“Just as much as life on earth, the use of language obliges you with every choice you make by its consequences. That is why it is so impressive how Hirs makes the reader into a participant: you cannot read this collection without making choices, without considering what you are doing.” (Dietske Geerlings, Tzum)

“The lingual power to create a world comes with obliging consequences; the idea of care, not only for each other but also for Earth, is a central concern of this collection.” (Helena Van Praet, Poëziekrant)

“In the ‘ecologic’ of poetry, Hirs notates this ecological mix-up, without diminishing the deep sense of beauty she still experiences in nature.” (Jeroen Dera, De Standaard)

“From this it follows that there is still a lot we do not know (yet) and that (pristine) nature also has a dark, unknown side that we should honor.” (Helena Van Praet, Poëziekrant)

“Reading is at the same time creating and living, just as writing is.” (Dietske Geerlings, Tzum)

“That way, this poetic Atlantis, both gorgeous and ominous, vacillates between hope and bewilderment, poetry and discourse.” (Helena Van Praet, Poëziekrant)

“The Dutch poet for readers with ears is Rozalie Hirs. You could always hear in her work that she is a composer, somebody who is used to listening to the world and to language.” (Marc van Oostendorp, Neerlandistiek)

On 1 april 2023, Rozalie Hirs’ eighth Dutch-language poetry collection ecologica (English: ecologic, 2023) is published by Uitgeverij Vleugels, Bleiswijk, The Netherlands. The design is by Marc Vleugels. Topics of the collection are different ecological systems within our world, nature, and language.


1. poems
1.1. [1]
1.2. [15]
1.3. [19]

2. science, ecology

3. music
3.1 all that green and blue (2022)
3.2 atlantis ampersand (2015)
3.3 o little thistle (2004)



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translation to follow soon

science, ecology

The poetry of ecologica celebrates nature in all its diversity. But also names concerns and grief regarding crises in nature at the hands of humans: environmental pollution, global warming (the climate crisis), the extinction of animals and plants, the die-off of the coral reef, drinking water shortages, floods.

In ecologica, several (in the Netherlands or the world) endangered or protected animal species, plant species, and ecosystems are found. Among them are the Siberian crane (Leucogeranus leucogeranus), the coral reef, the bittern (Botaurus stellaris), the scarce large blue (Maculinea teleius), the great burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis), the green glazier (Aeshna viridis), crab beds (Stratiotes aloides), sea sparrows (Juncus maritimus), and the grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus).

Poems [19] and [32] focus on two well-known host plants and the symbiosis between ants and butterflies. The scabrous ant (Myrmica scabrinodis) plays a role in the reproduction of the scare large blue (Maculinea teleius): the caterpillar of the scarce large blue lives in symbiosis with the ant until it emerges as a butterfly. The great burnet is a host plant to both the scabrous ant and the scare large blue. A plant in the water orchid family, crabweed, is host plant for some rare insect species, including the green glazier, a dragonfly. When host plants sensitive to environmental pollution disappear, it also leads to the disappearance of the butterfly and insect species dependent on those host plants.

The polyphonic poem ‘o little thistle’ makes reference in various languages to plant species, many of them medicinal, that are or were traditionally present in calcareous areas. The languages are linked by the geological, biological and ecological peculiarities of these habitats through the presence of the mentioned plants. ‘o little thistle’ was created during the 2004 Sommerakademie of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin. The Sommerakademie took place in Rüdersdorf, located within an old limestone-rich area near Berlin, where mining was once an important source of income. The poet researched the changing vegetation within this area and found similarities with mining regions in other countries. Her fascination with the similarities and differences of plant names in the corresponding languages (and dialects) led to ‘o little thistle’, an ode to the thistle. The enumeration of plants present in the environment forms a chorus within the poem, as if it were an ecological system or “world” from which the individual speaks.


all that green and blue (2022)

The music composition all that green and blue for spoken voice and electronic sounds (2022) by Rozalie Hirs is based on a number of poems selected from her book ecologica (2023). The premiere on 29 October 2022 took place during the festival Woordnacht at The New Institute, Museumpark, Rotterdam. During the premiere, Jet Nijkamp’s visual work on the waves of the free sea (2022) was projected. Many thanks to Jet Nijkamp (visual artist), Magnus Robb (ornithologist), Zip Boterbloem (technical support), and Hans Sibarani (Woordnacht’s artistic director).

atlantis ampersand (2015)

The multlingual collage poem ‘atlantis &’ was conceived as the libretto for Hirs’ composition atlantis ampersand (music, poetry; 2015), commissioned by Holland Festival for Klangforum Wien. The underlying idea for work was the setting of an apocalyptic song of the dead, during the disappearance of the mythical city of Atlantis. In different languages poetry fragments are filtered through the water: only the vowels are still audible. The world premiere at Het Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam, took place on 6 June 2015 during Urbo Kune, an event around the theme of the utopian city. The poem was also included in the literary magazine Dietsche Warande & Belfort (impossible scenario, DW B 2015 4; curator: Maud Vanhauwaert). With great thanks to the translators of Hirs’ poetry, Kim Andringa, Henri Deluy, Donald Gardner, Ard Posthuma and Diego Puls.

o little thistle (2004)

The poem ‘o little thistle’ (2004) and the eponymous music composition were created during the Sommerakademie Rüdersdorf of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin, for the animated film a throw-away coincidence that determined everything (animation: Paul Leyton; poetry, voice, composition: Hirs). The image below shows the protagonist of Leyton’s animated film, the little thistle.