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Yfke Bethlehem new UG poet-in-residence

05 September 2022

Astronomy student Yfke Bethlehem (22) is the new University of Groningen poet-in-residence for the academic year 2022-2023. She impressed the jury with her signature and her motivation to become poet-in-residence: ‘Yfke is a serious poet with her own voice: her poems clearly demonstrate talent and profoundness.’ Yfke Bethlehem is the 23rd UG poet-in-residence, succeeding Laura van Meijeren.

Yfke Betlehem, Photo Reyer Boxem
Yfke Betlehem, Photo Reyer Boxem

Her poems often spring from a single line of text or a simple image: ‘When I go for a walk to give my thoughts free rein, I often see images or scenes that contain the seed of a poem. I then sculpt the rest of the poem around this. The initial thought itself may not even always be the purpose of the poem, but it is the start.’ This was also how the poem ‘Honger’ [Hunger] came into being: during her first-year lectures she often thought about students who brought entire loaves of bread into the lecture hall to make their sandwiches. The rest of the poem grew around this idea ‘with a bit of pruning and cutting’. As poet-in-residence, Yfke wants to encourage readers to start writing their own poems, and to give budding poets a platform where they can make mistakes and learn from them.

Yfke also draws inspiration from her degree programme in Astronomy: ‘It is all about perspective – you are big, you are small, and everything in between. You study all there is to see in the universe, on scales that can hardly be imagined.’ All these perspectives help her as a poet. ‘When I look back in time, I can see all the things that I have learnt – things that I will never forget, even though it was a difficult process at the time.’ Yfke hopes that by sharing her perspectives through her poems, other will show her their perspectives
[IK1] . ‘This way we can all learn from each other.’

The jury, consisting of USVA programmer and presenter Bram Douwes, NOORDWOORD project member and poetry expert Maarten Praamstra, and former poet-in-residence Laura van Meijeren, was impressed by the quality and professionalism of her poems. ‘Yfke has mastered her voice as a poet and will be able to become even more proficient in the coming year.’

Opening of the academic year

Yfke Bethlehem made her debut as poet-in-residence on Monday 5 September during the opening of the Academic Year 2022-2023 in the Martinikerk. She will write poems for the UG website throughout the coming academic year and be invited to read her poetry at numerous events.

Note for the press:
More information via Jennifer O’Connell of Studium Generale, j.m.j.oconnell@rug.nl, tel. +31 (0) 50 Astronomy student Yfke Bethlehem (22) is the new University of Groningen poet-in-residence for the academic year 2022-2023. She impressed the jury with her signature and her motivation to become poet-in-residence: ‘Yfke is a serious poet with her own voice: her poems clearly demonstrate talent and profoundness.’ Yfke Bethlehem is the 23rd UG poet-in-residence, succeeding Laura van Meijeren.363 5464 or +31 (0) 6383 39 575.


Last modified:14 September 2022 10.24 a.m.
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