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From 1968 to 2005 Van Wissen was a Dutch language teacher. In January, 2005 he resigned, because he was chosen to succeed Gerrit Komrij as the Dichter des Vaderlands (Poet Laureate of the Netherlands). In the last decade of his life, Van Wissen wrote almost 900 sonnets for poetry website Gedichten.nl. He died as a result of an intracranial hemorrhage.