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E.M. Beekman

 

“Life in fact’s me.”

                -E.M. Beekman


About the Author

     E.M. Beekman was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 1939 as World War II spread across Europe. During the Nazi occupation he was separated from his parents and forced to forage and steal from farmers in order to survive. After the war, he was reunited with parents who were strangers. His problems were compounded when his roving and abusive father, a mining engineer, accepted a job in Indonesia and took the unhappy family with him.

     It was in the Indies that Beekman encountered another completely different world. To this day, he remembers the exotic smells of the tropics and the richness of that tropical world. Though he has never returned to the Indies since his adolescence, he has made use of the extravagant beauty in his poetry.

     Beekman came to the United States as a teenager in 1957. After a brief stint in the U.S. Army, he kept himself alive with a variety of jobs (oilman on the Rock Island Railroad, bartender, plastics factory worker, janitor, bouncer, lab assistant) before earning his B.A. in English and Comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley in 1963 and his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University in 1968. He has taught for more than three decades in the Department of Germanic Languages at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is the author of more than two dozen books including novels, short stories, scholarly works and poetry.

     Beekman is a noted scholar and translator of Dutch colonial literature. Recent works include his highly acclaimed translation of the seventeen-century Dutch naturalist Rumphius’ Ambonese Curiosity Cabinet published by Yale University Press. Beekman has been awarded a Guggenhim Fellowship in support of his continuing translation of Rumphius’ writings.


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