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  • Writer's pictureAlina Stehle

Poetry Week Kicks Off in Groningen With The Election of The New City Poet

Updated: Feb 2

With the announcement of the new City Poet, Poetry Week starts off in various locations around Groningen.

Poetry adorns the center of Groningen © Alina Stehle

Yesterday evening, the Poetry Week in Groningen officially started off with the election of the new City Poet, who will hold the position for the next two years. Until 2026, Esmé van den Boom will carry this title. The 30-year-old started writing poetry 12 years ago. Before that, she was a songwriter at different locations in Groningen. She left her guitar behind and started performing text and expresses her thoughts through language.

The new City Poet Esmé van den Boon © Henk Veenstra

To inspire herself, she interacts with her favorite poems in a technical, profound way by observing their structures and mechanisms. Using this reference, she applies it to her own themes and to things that happen in her daily life - snippets of conversations, newspaper clippings and excerpts from readings melt with rhythm and a play of language.

The best poems are pleasant to read, but they deal with difficult issues that affect society, Van den Boom believes. Concerning her new position, she says “it feels strange to be the new City Poet but I feel it’s the right moment and I am ready for a new challenge”.

When she was eleven, she visited Groningen for the first time and she knew it was her city. “When the train drives back into the train station, I know I am back where I belong”, says Esmé. In her time as City Poet, she hopes to show people how to enjoy poetry and how to connect in a polarized society through art.

Right before her, Myron Hamming represented Groningen as the City Poet. The 29-year-old is originally from Groningen and took up poetry after ending his career as a professional speed skater.

When he went to his first poetry event, he was fascinated by the way you can connect with people you don't know. He told The Groninger that he had never experienced such a pure form of expression, and he was just blown away. After the event, he went up to the organizers and asked them what he needed to do to participate in the next one. "They laughed at me. They didn't know me, I hadn't written anything, and I'm dyslexic," he explains. Hamming spent the next three months writing and hasn't stopped yet, nor does he plan to.

Myron Hamming presenting his poetry at an event © Myron Hamming

"The first time I went on stage, I was so nervous. You can't hide yourself, I've never felt so naked and pure," he says. At that time, his poetry was mostly about personal struggles and him searching for his identity. Today, he includes more political aspects in his work and motivates people to keep dreaming, no matter what happens.

The first time he applied to be the City's Poet, he was rejected. But that didn't stop him from putting even more energy into the next two years and developing his work: "It was a long road. It was great that I didn't become the City Poet in the first place, because I wasn't ready for it at that point", he explains.

The last ten City Poets have represented the city of Groningen by speaking at local events, traveling around the country to connect with other artists and address the city's concerns. Seeking to change how the city is perceived, Hamming aims to shift the focus away from Groningen's characterization solely as an earthquake-prone area. "The city has so much more to offer," he believes. He will continue to write about Groningen, a place where he finds peace, balance and kindness.

Hamming provided The Groninger  with his favourite poem he wrote in his time as the City Poet. Original in Dutch, English translation by The Groninger

Starting today, nine events will take place at various cultural venues in Groningen, where artists will share their thoughts and projects they have been working on over the past months. Find the full program here.

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