The Netherlands has had a Poet Laureate since 2000, an initiative supported by Poetry International, NRC Handelsblad, Koninklijke Bibliotheek and NTR. Since 2013 this poet has been chosen by a broadly composed committee. The poet in question serves primarily as a poetry ambassador, and writes poetry in reaction to important (inter)national events of a cultural, political, sporting or societal nature. The Poet Laureate also initiates projects that increase knowledge of and consideration for poetry.
In Other Words is a poetry translation project through which Poetry International looks forward to the coming festival. It is our pleasure to invite lovers of poetry and language to translate the poems that will be performed at the festival into Dutch, English or any other language.
Poetry International has facilitated the C. Buddingh’ awards since 1988. Each year the prize goes to the writer of the previous year’s best Dutch-language poetry debut. The ceremony takes place in June as part of the yearly Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam.
Everyone in Rotterdam knows them: the verses of poetry on the sides of the city’s cleaning and garbage-collection vehicles. The City Maintenance trucks have been doing more than removing household refuse and cleaning the Binnenrotte after the market. Ever since 1988 they have also brought exquisite poetry into Rotterdam homes. The verses on these trucks are taken from the poets who perform at the annual Poetry International Festival. This project, ‘Het gedicht is een bericht’ (The poem is a message), owes its name to the eponymous poem by Jules Deelder. It was one of the first verses to be inscribed on the trucks.
The VSB Poetry Prize is the top Dutch-language poetry prize, and awards the author of the previous year’s best Dutch-language collection with € 25.000,- and a special glass sculpture by Maria Roosen. The award was instated by the VSB fund in 1993 at the initiative of Huub Oosterhuis, and was first presented in 1994. Since 2011 Poetry International has held the awards ceremony on the eve of Poetry Day.
Poetry Day, held every year on the last Thursday of January, forms the biggest poetry extravaganza in the Netherlands and Flanders. On this day poetry lovers in both countries organise a diverse selection of poetry activities, and the media also takes the opportunity to be a bit more poetic. Since 2013, Poetry Day officially marks the start of Poetry Week. For such a huge variety of performances, publications, poetry prizes, programmes and activities, one day just wasn’t enough any more!
Poetry International facilitates a limited number of educational initiatives. These are both be standalone projects and projects coupled with yearly events like the Poetry International Festival or Poetry Day. The poetry lessons for primary and secondary school students during Poetry Day and Poet in the Web (dichterinhetweb.com) are examples of Poetry International’s on-going work in education.

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