Poet and author Simon Vinkenoog, who had been known as Amsterdam's "weed ambassador" since the 1960s, has died aged 80, his family said on Sunday. He had been ill for some time, having undergone a leg amputation and suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage.
His first volume of poems, entitled Wondkoorts ("Traumatic Fever"), appeared in 1950; one of his last works was a bundle of translations of Allen Ginsberg's poetry, Me and my peepee (2001). Twenty years earlier he had also turned his attention to the American Beat Poets of the 1950s, publishing Jack Kerouac in Amsterdam. Vinkenoog loved the city where he was born and where he lived, as he expressed in his ode to his native town Am*dam Madmaster, published last year.
In 2004 Simon Vinkenoog was elected Poet of the Fatherland (Dutch poet laureate), a position which he held until 2005.
In 1965 he served six weeks in jail for possessing marijuana, a drug he continued to enjoy until he died. Vinkenoog was an advocate of recreational drugs use, as illustrated by titles like How to Enjoy Reality (1968). He often appeared in public, reciting his poetry. One of his most recent appearances was in 2007, when he lent his support to a demonstration in Amsterdam against a proposed ban on magic mushrooms. In the 2006 general elections, he was a figurehead candidate for a small party which promoted the legalisation of cannabis. The party did not succeed in winning any seats in the Lower House.
In addition to his purely literary work, Vinkenoog wrote profusely about his experiences with drugs. Esoteric magazine Bres published an apparently never-ending series of articles, starting with an exploration of LSD in 1968, and ending in 2004.
1960s fading away
With the death of Simon Vinkenoog Amsterdam loses one more of its iconic ambassadors of the Swinging 'Sixties (1960s), when the Dutch capital gained its reputation as a drugs-friendly Magic Centre, which it has managed to retain to this day. Earlier this year, performance artist Robert Jasper Grootveld died. Grootveld was known for his large-scale open-air ceremonies in the mid-sixties in which he mocked bourgeois hypocrisy.
By Rob Kievit
July 12, 2009
Radio Netherlands Worldwide