Mark Insingel - The effect of reading these books is much like that of looking into mirrors put against mirrors. You shift into different planes but are always aware there is no depth to what you see, that you continually stay on the surface of things (sentences).
Mark Insingel, Reflections, Trans. by Adrienne Dixon, Red Dust, 1972.
The book begins with the image of the rising/descending ferris wheel. In it a man reflects on his whole existence-- his childhood, adulthood, fantasies. There are no boundaries between these. The little boy wonders-- Where is your grandfather? Are you only you when you're with him? When the boys are teasing you? When the girls are sorry for you? The rug on which his grandfather is lying becomes a dark pond in which he is swimming. In the woods one point differs from another only because a car is seen in the background. The house glides by the ship or the ship the house. Nothing exists except in motion.
Reflections, optical as well as psychological, are the theme of this extremely experimental and highly artistic poem in prose... Because of the perfect interconnection between form and content, Mark Insingel's book is one of the most challenging and interesting works of modern fiction. - International Fiction Review
Mark Insingel, My Territory, Trans. by Adrienne Dixon, Red Dust Books, 1987.
The effect of reading My Territory is much like that of looking into mirrors put against mirrors. You shift into different planes but are always aware there is no depth to what you see, that you continually stay on the surface of things (sentences). “In my hands” Insingel has said “the text means what it says”
Therein lies the difficulty and beauty of his novels. - Tom Whalen
Mark Insingel, A Course of Time, Trans. by Adrienne Dixon, Red Dust Books, 1977.
Mark Insingel made his debut in 1963 with the collection Drijfhout (Driftwood). From the outset he wrote in an experimental style that made a stand for social relevance, seeing autonomous literature as the last refuge for freedom of expression within a society increasingly focused on reproduction. Language is at the heart of Mark Insingel’s oeuvre. His writing is based on an idiosyncratic, creative relationship with existing forms of expression such as slogans, traditional proverbs and idiomatic phrases, which he undermines and in his unique way playfully and unexpectedly combines in varying settings to eke out new meanings.
This attention to the aural and visual aspects of language led, amongst other collections, to PERPETUUM MOBILE (1969), the first volume of concrete poetry in the Dutch language, and Posters (1974).
The almost mathematical structure of Insingel’s poems is a result of the variegated and modulating way in which verses are repeated and juxtaposed, giving the impression that his writing originates in mathematical logic. Not only are individual poems structured in this manner, some books are also consciously conceived as ‘linguistic algorithms’. In Dat wil zeggen (In Other Words; 1975) the texts are generated using preconceived basic rules, with every third text recapturing a preceding text. Through this network of similarity and contrast, a rhythm emerges, which is elaborated upon with almost mathematical precision. Language thus becomes the chosen place of being.
His consistently maintained predilection for the avant-garde has relegated Mark Insingel to the margins of the literary landscape, and as a result his work has never been fully appreciated. This has not stopped him from writing, however, and in 1990 his provisional collected poems were published, entitled In elkanders armen (In Each Other’s Arms). The recently published minimalist love poems in Niets (Nothing; 2005), for which he received the Publieksprijs (Readers' Prize) for best poetry volume, and in Iets (Something; 2007), nominated for the Herman de Coninck prize, appear to have caught the attention of a younger generation of poetry readers. - Patrick Peeters (Translated by Willem Groenewegen)