Short Biography

Paul Mercken by Kees Wennekendonk

Paul Mercken by Kees Wennekendonk, 2014

Paul Mercken, °1934 Leuven, Belgium, grew up in Hasselt, Belgium, attended primary and high school (gymnasium) at the college St. Joseph there, Ph.D. Higher Institute of Philosophy, Catholic University Leuven, and Licentiate (Masters) in the Letters. His interest lay in the study of the sources of medieval philosophy, especially in the field of Aristotelian ethics. His first publication won a prize of he Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium. After finishing his military duty he was able to continue with this study, thanks to the Belgian National Foundation for Scientific Research, in Cambridge, Oxford and Florence. Subsequently he taught mainly history of philosophy in the USA, Italy and the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.

After his academic career he devoted himself to voluntary work in the fields of the environment and nature protection, social work (e.g. Asylum seekers support), culture (chamber music and poetry) and spirituality. In 2007 he received an exchange trophy as the most diversified voluntary worker of his town Bunnik. He has been on the committee, e.g. as treasurer, secretary and chairman, of the Haiku Kring Nederland (Dutch Haiku Society) from 2006 until the present, is more than 15 year on that of the section Heuvelrug-Krommerijn of the Dutch Humanist Society (Humanistisch Verbond, HV), and has been on that of the section Bunnik of ANBO, the Duchy General Association of the Elderly, is active member of Taalpodium (Literary podium) Zeist-Utrecht, was a few years on the committee of the foundation The Hofreis (friendly association Zeist-Yamada, Japan), on that of the Senior Dwellings Bunnik i.f., and is since 15 years chairman of the Association of Owners of the Senior Dwelling Complex De Grondslag (The Foundation) of Bunnik. He worked more than 19 years for the Vluchtelingenwerkgroep (formerly Vluchtelingenwerk), that is the Organisation for refugees, Bunnik, as social as well as legal advisor or on the committee. He helped found the foundation Teleji to support Katanga, RD Congo.

He is still active in the Old Rovers Scouts group branch Lod Lavki in Hasselt, with whom he regularly goes camping in the Ardennes.

That is how he got involved in the restoration project of the abbey of Herkenrode near Hasselt and wrote his first haikus for the collection De eenhoorn springt weer op (The unicorn jumps up again) at the occasion of the opening of the Tithe Barn there. He was an active member of Medium Aevum (national association Medieval Philosophy), and is still one of Taalpodium (Literary podium) Zeist-Bunnik and of the Freethinkers Association De Vrije Gedachte (Free Thought).

His hobbies are language and languages in the widest sense of these terms and social anthropology. He visited Japan three times and in the last 10 years The Gambia and India (Goa) as well as in 1911 the RD of the Congo. In 2017 he will visit Taiwan.

He was many years the editor in chief of the Newsletter of the Dutch Haiku Society (and of the site), of the Kommuun (newsletter of the local section HV), of that of the local ANBO as well as of the yearly folder of the Coalition for Human Rights of Bunnik.

He published two poem collections: Bunnikse haiku’s & ander dichtspul (Bunnik Haikus and Other Poetic Stuff), 2012, 94 p., and the bilingual Een keuze uit – A Selection from ATLAS POETICA, Tanka’s van plaats – Tanka of Place, 2013. 60 p., Soest: Boekhout.

He has two daughters, Christina (Xina), °1969, ds gerontologie, VU, Amsterdam, and momentarily professional storyteller in Amsterdam, and Jessica, °1970, supporting people with learning difficulties for the County in Oxford, GB. His ex-wife and good friend Lieve Spaas, °1935, suffering Alzheimer, is taken good care of in Wardington House near Banbury, GB, a nursing home.