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Stian Olesen in Spot on Young Poets

'De dans van je oog, scannend naar iets' - video poem (Dutch spoken)


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.

Stian Olesen is a young poet who won the Young Campert Prize during the Winternachten festival 2020. In Fall 2019, he took part 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. Stian recited his poem during Winternachten 2020. As one of the three finalists, he won the Young Campert Prize for best poet-scholar during the 'Schrijversfeest'. He is a student at the Vrije School Den Haag.

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 her walk with Stian Olesen, Diann van Faassen wrote, "When you're just getting to know someone and maybe want to become 'a we', that's what I think about," Stian Olesen says of 'It's Up to Us'. How do you do that? You talk to each other, you look at what you have in common but when is there 'an us'? That's not so simple at all." On this gray Purple Friday, we walk through the Bosjes van Poot.

"During the first lockdown I was often here with my dog, it became a bit 'my' forest, to be outside and feel good for a moment. That period was quite difficult, I am someone who really needs his social contacts, I missed my classmates and the group of theater." The silence of that time has now - Deecember 2020 - given way to overflowing weeks, five days of school and both days of rehearsal on the weekends at theater school Rabarber. Yet in the hustle and bustle there remains time to write, something Stian hadn't realised beforehand.

"I had never really written anything before I participated in Spot on Young Poets. Then I discovered how much I enjoy writing and what a beautiful form poetry is. I've continued to write, most of it I keep to myself, so it's nice to participate again so a new poem will be published.

He spends less time walking since school and the theater school have started again. A dog jumps up against Stian's legs. Even though we left ours at home, in the conversation they just walk along: Dalia, the sweet mix from Greece, "actually a labrador on too short legs" and Rosie, my adolescent Golden Retriever. They would surely get along, and after some sniffing and playing, might just become an "us".