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Xiu Bin van Lier in Spot on Young Poets

'Ik leef in mijn bubbel' - 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'ss 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.

Xiu Bin van Lier is a young poet from The Hague who reached the final of the Jonge Campert prize during Winternachten festival 2018. She 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, in autumn 2017. During poetry workshops at secondary schools in The Hague, pupils are taught poetry writing and recitation. Xiu Bin read her poem at the Schrijversfeest of the Winternachten festival 2018 as one of the three finalists of the Jonge Campert Prize for best poet-scholar. She is a pupil of Dalton The Hague.

In the school year 2020-2021 it was not possible to organise 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 a special series of video poems written and filmed by the young poets themselves. It is a penetrating testimony of a generation eagerly desiring to express their perspective and vision on life, but hardly able to do so because of the Covid-19 measures. With their imagination, they give a voice to their generation, which is usually not visible enough in the public debate.

Diann wrote about the walk: "Actually, I don't want to grow up, I want to keep looking at the world like a child," says Xiu Bin van Lier just after she excitedly announces that she will soon be eighteen and therefore an adult. We take a walk on the Ockenburgh Estate, "I came here as a little girl, not much has changed, I like that." While we walk through a jungle-like piece of forest, she remembers climbing trees and building huts with her little brother.

What is the maturity that Xiu Bin does not want? A mapped-out path "with its own house, a job, becoming something." "When I think of a house, I think of a van, in which I would like to live and travel around, preferably with a dog. I'm looking forward to deciding things myself." She is considering studying architecture, "but I would also like to do something with music, in the breaks at school I play guitar in a band."

It's up to us sounds distant to Xiu Bin, like something behind which you can hide. "Who is that us, are we really all that? How can we agree? I prefer to look at what I can do." Doing it myself has brought benefits in the past year: "When school was closed and I had to do everything at home, I finished faster and had much more free time. I find that lessons often take too long." We walk back along the lanes that "seemed longer as a child anyway." We look for a while as we used to look. She wants to stay amazed and curious; Xiu Bin takes her bike. And I can see her driving off in that van...