I was born in Fryslân, one of the lesser known ‘lands’ of the Netherlands. My family migrated to Australia when I was a teenager. Today, I maintain direct contact with my komôf by way of language, literature, sport and regular return visits to kith and kin. Although I write predominantly in English, I have also written in Frysk and Dutch. I maintain that I’m also “quite fluent” in French – but no one who can actually speak the language agrees with me.
My first poems were published in the early 1980s, when I was on the outer periphery of a group of stellar and supportive writers, musicians and artists who would meet semi-regularly in various pubs in Hobart. Around the same time, I wrote some plays that were produced locally and I began writing and performing music in various guises: playing in bands, writing songs for others and writing music for theatre, television and film. It was an excellent time to be young in Hobart.
Academic and non-fiction writing took centre stage in Melbourne from the 1990s to 2010, during which time I authored books on Truganini, Frisian Identity, Higher Education, Artistic Research in Music and Idea Chasing in Improvised Jazz; essays on Ricky Maynard, Euthanasia, Fryslân and Jazz in Melbourne; and lots of literary, musical and art criticism. Of course, I also wrote the obligatory academic papers, which stood me in good stead in terms of the discipline required to write, edit, rewrite. I had a measure of success with this: according to Scholar Google, my papers have been cited more than one and half thousand times.
As well as criticism and essays, I am concentrating more on fiction these days but throughout my life I have continued (and will continue) to write poetry, even though that work is rarely published, these days. The fact that I don’t submit anything for publication may have something to do with that. Nevertheless, poetry remains my preferred medium for creativity and self-expression.