At Poetry International Rotterdam we are crazy about poetry, whether from the Netherlands or the world at large. This is why everything we do is geared towards sharing poetry with audiences that are as expansive and diverse as possible, and why we are dedicated to strengthening the exchange between people who write poetry, people who translate poetry, and people who enjoy poetry, both on stage and online.
Poetry International was born out of the Poetry International Festival, which has been bringing the absolute best international poets to appreciative Rotterdam crowds since 1970. The annual festival each June remains our most important activity, along with the Poetry Archives online, which collects and showcases poets and poems from around the world.
Since 1988, Poetry International has awarded the yearly C. Buddingh’ Prize for the best Dutch-language poetry debut during the Poetry International Festival. We believe one of our most important tasks is also to showcase the strength, quality, and diversity of Dutch-language poetry to readers abroad. Both Poetry Archives’ internationally edited online poetry collection and our strong ties to festivals the world over serve as key platforms in that regard.
Poet in residence
Every year Poetry International offers a writing residency to a poet who, due to economic, social or political reasons, is threatened or limited in their profession as a writer in their home country. For six weeks in April and May the poet in residence is offered time and space to write, to explore the city and meet its people and communities, and will be introduced to relevant literary or cultural organisations and events in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and Belgium. As part of the residency the poet takes part in the Poetry International Festival and Poetry International publishes a publication of poems in original language with the Dutch and English translation.
Louder than a Bomb: Poetry in schools
In the run up to the festival, Poetry International organizes the Louder than a Bomb project (named after the inspiring film of that name) for students in secondary education, sending spoken-word coaches from Rotterdam into schools for writing and performance classes that culminate in a thrilling poetry slam finale during the festival.
Since 2017, Poetry International has its own educational arm. Poetry Academy offers to people of all ages courses, workshops, and masterclasses in writing, reading, and performing poetry. During the festival, the Academy presents workshops led by the festival’s translators in which budding translators get to work with the poets in question!
gedicht is een bericht – The poem is the message
Since 1988, the municipal road sweepers and garbage trucks of Rotterdam zip around with lines of poetry on their flanks. For over 30 years now, Poetry International and Rotterdam’s municipality have paired the festival’s poetry with the city’s refuse under the banner of “Het gedicht is een bericht” (the poem is the message, a line by local legend Jules Deelder), thus spreading poetry from countries all over the world to the farthest corners of the city.