Medicine student Willem Wierbos (24) is the new University of Groningen poet-in-residence for the academic year 2019-2020. He impressed the jury with his poems that ooze student life: ‘Willem is not a poet who also happens to study, but a student who writes poetry and who is very much living the student life.’ Willem Wierbos is the 20th UG poet-in-residence, succeeding Sofia Manouki.
Typical of Willem’s style is that he ‘doesn’t write, but that he thinks’ his poems: ‘I look at something, ponder it, and then within a minute the poem is written in my thoughts, and, of course, eventually transferred to paper.’ For example, he wrote his poem ‘Wasdroger’ [Tumble dryer] after a night on the town, when around 5 a.m. the running tumble dryer became a personification of mortality in his mind.
As poet-in-residence, Willem aims to move his readers by writing accessible poems based on feelings and reciting them in a unique, lively way. Indeed, he describes himself as a born entertainer. He is also the singer of the band Hart Geruis, which performs across the Netherlands, and he performs several times a year as a musical actor with several companies, including Vals Alarm Musicaltheater and De Lawei Producties. In addition, under the name Le Chantant d’Étudiants, Willem together with a pianist have performed classic songs and recited his poetry in and around Groningen.
The jury, consisting of Dr Quirijn van den Hoogen, Assistant Professor in Arts Policy and Art Sociology, city poet Renée Luth, and student of English Language and Culture and Media Studies Hanne Stegeman, was impressed by the accessibility and professionalism of his poems. ‘Willem is well suited for this public role. We expect that he will not only stand the literary test, but will also be able to make other people enthusiastic about poetry.’
Willem Wierbos made his début as poet-in-residence on Monday 2 September during the opening of the Academic Year 2019-2020 in the Martinikerk. He will write poems for the UG website throughout the coming academic year and be invited to read his poetry at numerous events.
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