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UG Poet-in-residence

In 2000, the University of Groningen became the first university in the Netherlands to appoint a poet-in-residence. No other higher education institution in the Netherlands at that time had a comparable honorary position. In the two decades since then, many universities have followed Groningen’s example.

Activities of the Poet-in-residence

Every student at the University of Groningen can apply for the position of poet-in-residence by submitting five poems and a letter of motivation. A professional jury selects the poet-in-residence each year. The poet-in-residence then starts off their year by reading the winning poem aloud during the opening of the academic year. During the academic year, the poet-in-residence writes a poem a month that is published on the University website. Students of the Academy of Arts, Minerva make an animation with each poem. The poet-in-residence also performs on numerous occasions. At the end of the year, the poet-in-residence says farewell with a final project and naturally a collection of the poetic results of the year.

Poet-in-residence 2023-2024: Ruth Ruijgers

Yfke Bethlehem
Ruth Ruijgers (Credits: Nienke Maat)

Ruth Ruijgers, born in 2002, was announced as the new house poet of the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen during the opening of the academic year on September 1. She succeeded Yfke Bethlehem in this role. The house poet traditionally makes their debut during the university's academic year opening ceremony.

In the past, the house poet would publish in the Universiteitskrant (University Newspaper), and in recent years, monthly poems were featured on the university's website. However, Ruth Ruijgers decided to depart from the routine of publishing a poem online every month, stating that she wants to be more present and publish more regularly as the house poet.

Ruijgers originally discovered poetry through theater. She began her journey into theater around the age of thirteen. During this time, she was introduced to De Noorderlingen, an organization focused on theater for young people. She had a great time there and discovered the art of reciting texts, including through a workshop on spoken word. In her third year of high school, her Dutch teacher, Mr. Barth, introduced her to poetry. He provided personal feedback on the poems they wrote in class and encouraged her to continue writing if she enjoyed it, suggesting that there might be potential for her in the field. She even made it to the finals of the poetry competition "Doe Maar Dicht Maar" during that time.

The poem titled "Wat het is om voort te zetten/opnieuw te beginnen" (What it is to continue/start over) was not part of Ruijgers' initial application but was written specifically for the opening of the academic year. She wanted to create a poem that conveyed a sense of "here we go again, the world is at our feet."

In her first six months as house poet, Ruijgers aims to raise awareness of the role of the house poet. She believes that after a golden era, the house poet position had somewhat faded into the background, even though there were fantastic poets who held the role. Her goal is to bring more visibility to the position.

Looking ahead, she would like to organize an open stage or workshops once there is more awareness. She believes there are many students who write occasionally, and there is interest in poetry, but not everyone actively engages with it. Ruijgers also finds the idea of blending poetry with other forms of art intriguing. She envisions creating poems based on students' favorite words, phrases, and themes in their native languages and crafting a poem that may only be partly understood by everyone.

List of previous poets-in-residence and collections

2022-2023: Yfke Bethlehem, poems
2021-2022: Laura van Meijeren, poems
2020-2021: Olivier van Eijk, poems
2019-2020: Willem Wierbos, poems
2018-2019: Sofia Manouki, poems
2017-2018: Rachel Raezter, Boven in de boom: poems
2016-2017: Esmé van den Boom, poems
2015-2016: Philip Rozema, Te Ruime Ruimte
2014-2015: Jeptha de Visser, Verschijnselen
2013-2014: Lilian Zielstra, Specimen
2012-2013: Pauline Sparreboom, Oceaankorrels
2011-2012: Jet Langerak, Roes
2010-2011: Joost Oomen, Vliegenierswonden
2009-2010: Sacha Landkroon, IKS
2008-2009: Machteld Brands, Drift
2007-2008: Menno de Block, Zoetwaterwoorden
2006-2007: Ruth Koops van ’t Jagt, Juttersgeluk
2005-2006: Jurre van den Berg, Avondkikkers
2004-2005: Veerle Vroon, Kortsluiting
2003-2004: Annelieke van Mens, S1005049
2002-2003: Guido van der Wolk, Klinkende Klanken
2001-2002: Gertjan Laan, Badans
2000-2001: Daniel Dee en Petra Else Jekel, Dubbelblind

Last modified:05 October 2023 12.05 p.m.
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