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Amanou Jansen in Spot on Young Poets

'Op pad. Doordenderen. Op de welbekende weg.' - 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.

Amanou Jansen is a young poet from The Hague who reached the finals of the Young Campert Prize of 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. Amanou recited his poem during Winternachten 2020 and became second in the finals for the Young Campert Prize. At the time he was a student at Dalton Den Haag and is now studies Biomedical Sciences 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.

Diann van Faassen chronicled their walk: "If you had asked me this a year ago, I'm sure I would have answered very differently. 'It's up to us?' It's up to them!" Over the past year, we have noticed how drastically life can change. For Amanou, the impact is even greater than for most peers; when your mother is seriously ill, you don't want her to be at risk. "What would do me good - more contact with others - is not good for her. So I don't do that but it's tough. Especially when others just go to illegal parties.

'It's up to us' makes me feel helpless, I comply with all the measures but how do I get others to do the same? And I don't only have this now but also with issues like racism or climate change. I think that the 'us' is already living more consciously and it's the 'them' who needs to start realizing it. When I ask when Amanou felt part of an 'us', he says that occurred during the climate demonstrations and the Pride in The Hague. "Among people who are and think like me."