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Noemí Lorenzo in Spot on Young Poets

'De machteloosheid wordt verpakt in een strik van eigen keuze' - video poem (Dutch spoken)

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Writers Unlimited asked eight young people to write a poem on the theme of the online Winternachten festival 2021: It's up to us. All of them previously participated in the Spot on Young Poets programme for secondary school pupils in The Hague and reached the finals of the Young Campert Prize.

Noemí Lorenzo is a young poet from The Hague who reached the finals of the Young Campert Prize during Winternachten festival 2019. She participated three times in Spot on Young Poets, the education project of Writers Unlimited, poet and poetry teacher Diann van Faassen and Museum Meermanno | House of the Book. During poetry workshops at secondary schools in The Hague, pupils are taught poetry writing and recitation. Noemí recited her poem during Winternachten festival 2019 as one of the three finalists for the Young Campert Prize. During the Winternachten 2020, the jury awarded her with an Honorable Mention for her third poem. At the time, she was a student of Dalton Den Haag; she now studies Chemistry at the Leiden University.

This year it was not possible to organize the poetry workshops, but Diann van Faassen walked with eight former participants through the parks and streets of The Hague and explored the theme with them. The result is an extraordinary series of video poems created by the young poets themselves. It is a poignant testimony of a generation, full of desire to express their perspective and outlook on life, but hardly able to do so due to the Covid-19 measures. With their imagination, they give a voice to their contemporaries that is usually under-represented in the public debate.

About the walk with Noemí Lorenzo, Diann recorded the following: "When I think about the fact that we are the ones who have to save the earth, I sometimes wonder how. Against big companies like Shell, we seem powerless." Noemí Lorenzo thinks of the climate crisis with 'It's Up to Us' but her poem might actually be about earlier times. Just when we met at one of the oldest spots in The Hague that has been the center of power for centuries, the Binnenhof.

Whereas most people choose the forest, Noemí thinks the city is a good place for a walk because there is always something happening. This turns out to be true, a police helicopter hovers above us, looking for the fugitive perpetrator of a stabbing a little further down the road. We decide to walk safely in the other direction and immerse ourselves in the history of The Hague. Past the Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights) we walk past the place where the country's first tennis court was located, 'the Caetsbaan of the Princes of Orange, and where journalists are now jostling for a first reaction from a minister. On the Plein, a demonstration takes place for a plastic-free The Hague; the activists are convinced, with empty bottles and cans it can be read: Yes, we can! It draws us back into the present, and Noemí tells us what this time means to her.

The last year at school she had no real final exams, no exam stunt, no party. A vacation to America was cancelled. For her new university education, she mainly studies at home. "Pretty hard to get to know new people like that and also to have to do everything alone behind a screen." At the Koningspoort (King's Gate) we escape for a while, through the secret door right into the Paleistuinen (Palace Gardens). She already had a love of history as a little girl: "During family vacations in France, I wanted to visit a castle every year, and that's what we did." Through the Hofkwartier we walk back to the Hofvijver (Court pond). The helicopter has disappeared, the Gevangenpoort (Prison Gate) behind us, where terrible atrocities took place over the centuries, the tongue and finger of the De Witt brothers in the museum across the water in front of us. Back to the Binnenhof, with the Ridderzaal once built for the Counts of Holland. Noemí saw a castle again today."