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Background Information

Course of life

Joke van der Ark who has been living in Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht since 1983, is born in the Hague on the 2 July 1945 as the second daughter. She receives the names Johanna Wilhelmina Gezina, the family name being Groenewegen.

She grows up in one of the lesser neighbourhoods of the Hague. Her parents split up as she is only five or six years old. Despite the difficulty to make ends meet they become a close family.

As Joke is twelve years old, her mother moves to Oberhausen, Germany, with the man who will later become her stepfather to make a new start leaving the children, separated for the time being, in the care of family and friends until a home would be found. That did not succeed but nevertheless the children, one after the other would come to Germany and live with them in the small accommodation their mother and stepfather were living. After that misadventure, the family moves back to Holland, where the mother and children temporally live with there grandmother until they had the opportunity to rent an apartment in the Hague.

Mother and stepfather get married and a first half-sister is born as Joke is fifteen. Later her mother would give birth to two more baby girls. In February 1961, the year in which Joke will become sixteen, the family emigrates (wanders out) to Australia. Joke is lucky to find employment as an apprentice hairdresser, a profession she had already practised in the Netherlands. The family lives in a hostel until they are able to rent a house. Once, living in a house of their own, the relationship between the parents and the eldest children, that already had been under pressure for some time, gets worse. As something happens that makes it impossible to live together Joke runs away from home.

She is taken in by another Dutch family and lives a while under their loving care. During this period she seeks contact with her father in the Netherlands. He has also married again. In a letter he asks Joke to come and live with them. She is seventeen as she boards a ship to sail back to her fatherland.

In 1967 Joke gets married and adopts the name of her husband, Van der Ark. She and her husband will have three children, two girls and a boy. After years of working under employment during which time the family moves several times, a long desired dream of Joke’s husband came through. Together with a business companion, he starts his own restaurant which becomes very successful.

Sadly nothing stays as it is. After nearly thirty years together Joke steps out of her marriage to live on her own and a few years later in 1999 their divorce becomes legal. Also the restaurant goes down. In 2001 the father of her children suddenly dies from heart failure.

On the 30 of September 2005 Joke marries the man who only just one year before had become her dance partner at the dancing school. It feels good, so why wait? Joke and her husband hope to keep up dancing for many years to come. Although she now listens to the name De Glopper she still writes under the name of Van der Ark, as she had started her writing career under that name.

Because of her rather turbulent youth with the many removals, Joke only had some occupational training, but she wants more. As her daughters go to highschool, she enrols for adult education with very good results. After her divorce she also gets a retraining to be a secretary in which profession she works for several years.

In 1988 Joke begins writing poems as an autodidact. As she wants what she is writing to become known to as many people as possible, she immediately goes public. Through persistence, she develops her own style and becomes better while working. Her poems are about people and their motivation to handle. Happy and sad events of her life and that of her family can be found back in her poems. “It is nearly impossible to write insightful poetry if you do not dare to open up.”

In November 1990 Joke writes her 100th poem.

Since than many poems have been published in books and magazines in the Netherlands and in Belgium. Joke also writes short stories and since she has become a grandmother, she also writes stories and verses for children.

Her first novel ‘Hanna’ was presented on the 23rd of January 2008.

On 1 December 2007 the milestone a 500 poems is reached.

In 2008 Joke starts on a new novel. However, after completion of about one third, this novel comes to a standstill when near the end of 2010 she starts writing her first story for children ‘The piggy bank that went on a trip’ for her eldest grandchild. Meanwhile Joke has six grandchildren. For each child she creates a different story. See children stories. When she learns that towards the end of 2012 a niece will be born in Australia she is sorry that she can’t send one of her children’s stories. Therefore, she decides to translate some of the stories and the nursery rhymes into English.

Meanwhile, writing poems and short stories is progressing steadily. In March 1015 Joke adds her 750th poem.

At the beginning of 2013 painter Marco Boer starts an art project in cooperation with the city counsels of Zwijndrecht and Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht for which they invite people to point out a characteristic and noteworthy scene in one of the villages. After Marco has made a water colour of the scene, there follows an invitation to write a poem about that particular place or topic. Joke is indirectly involved in this project. As from 2014 four magnificent art panels can be admired in each village, three of them in Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht with a poem of Joke. In 2013 she also writes 12 sonnets relating to earlier work from Marco, also water colours about buildings and scenes in Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht.

On November 6, 2013 Joke celebrates her 25th writer’s anniversary. Photographer Cees van Meerten whom she has met at various events, makes a photoshoot of the celebration. Following this, the idea arises to write poetic reflections to his art photos. This results in a book, which will be officially launched on January 14, 2016.

Saturday, 17 September 2016, Joke presents, five of her children’s books. This is done with the participation of children of ‘The Theatre House Drechtsteden’ under the Leadership of Dymphna Sturrus and Dana Gooijer.

At the end of 2017, the second book about the eager-to-travel piggy bank is ready and Joke decides to publish that just like the first one, at Boekscout. The title is 'And again the Piggy Bank went on a trip'. The book was launched on 27 January 2018 in the Public Library of Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht.

On 30 March 30 2018, at the occasion of Joke and Han's 12,5 wedding anniversary, Han receives the bundle ‘I love you too’, which contains all the poems Joke wrote for him throughout the years. Six of these poems were set to music by Armand Dusault and sung by Lorance van Buren during a festive lunch,

In the meantime, Joke has become a regular visitor at ‘The Art Café’, which is held in the foyer of Theater Cascade every first Saturday of the month.
In 2017, the café starts a project called ‘The Connection’ on which artists can work during the holidays, when the café is closed. The art objects are presented during a Pop-Up Exhibition at the first meeting after the holiday period. In 2018, the theme is ‘Women’. Joke is so inspired by this that she writes no less than 9 poems and bundles them. For the cover she paints various women.

Also in 2018, Joke translates ‘Fleur en het elfje’ into Rose and the Little Fairy’ for the occasion of the 6th birthday of her grand-niece Ella in Australia.

January 2019: the poem Rookwood Necropolis’ with photo impressions is placed on YouTube.

May 2019: Two more children books are ready: ‘For the little ones’, this contains a series of short rhymes illustrated by Joke following the original idea of Lenka Procházkoyá and ‘Vegetables are pretty tasty’, a story about a little boy who does not like vegetables, but eventually grows to like them.

July 2019: the children's stories which Joke earlier translated into English are also printed and issued in beautiful hardcover books: ‘Nursery Rhymes about Butterflies, Bears, Pancakes and Pears’, Dotty’ and ‘Joey the flying Fire Truck’.

The 2019 theme for the project ‘The Connection’ is ‘Tides’. Again, Joke has produced a wave of poems which will be bundled and provided with a cover she designed herself.

In September 2019, she starts working on her last children's book. The third book about the traveling piggy bank. The grandchildren for whom she is writing this story are living in Utrecht. That’s why the piggy bank goes to Utrecht this time. As a result, they and other children who read it or are read to will learn a lot about Utrecht.

In 2020, 'Togetherness' is the subject. for the project ‘The Connection’ The poems that Joke writes for this theme have been bundled under the title ‘All Together'. It also has a cover made by herself.

In 2021, the visitors of 'Het Kunstcafé Drechtsteden' are presented the theme 'Inimitable'. It is a theme that Joke can’t immediately work with, but inspiration comes while thinking about it, and a number of poems follow. A nice side effect is that her 1000th poem was created in this series. For the cover, she symbolically paints the 'inimitable'.

Mid-January 2022, the children's book 'The Piggy Bank Got Travel Jitters Again' is completed.
Because the piggy bank is visiting Utrecht the official handover will take place there. On Thursday 24 March, during a festive gathering in the museum Speelklok, Utrecht alderman Anke Klein was handed a copy. The representatives of museums and other institutions that the piggy bank visits on its journey also receive a copy.
On Wednesday 11 May 2022, Joke visits the school of her granddaughters Liv and Isa for whom she wrote this book to tell about this last journey of the piggy bank.

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