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Paula Golunska in Spot on Young Poets

'Zoals je bent' - 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 Jonge Campert Prize.

Paula Golunska is a young poet who won the first Young Campert Prize during the Winternachten festival 2018. In Fall 2017, 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.

During poetry workshops at secondary schools in The Hague, pupils are taught poetry writing and recitation. Paula recited her poem during Winternachten 2017. As one of the three finalists, she won the Young Campert Prize for best poet-scholar during the 'Schrijversfeest'. At the time she was a student at Edith Stein College in The Hague and is now studying at Wageningen University & Research.

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 Paula, Diann wrote: "I think we need to stop pointing at each other and instead embrace each other; this is what happened, how do we tackle it together now." With Paula Golunska I walk through the Rijswijk forest. With 'It's up to us' she first thought of a love poem. "A bit cheesy perhaps," she laughs, "and I've never written a love poem before."

These days she writes mostly for her studies; writing poems didn't come up. But she was the first to respond to my emails for this project, because she saw in it an opportunity for poetry. Over seven years ago, Paula's family moved from Poland to the Netherlands to give her better opportunities in education. By now she settled, studying in Wageningen and seeing her future here. Her parents moved back in February: "I miss my mother, we were so close. We thought we could visit each other a lot but how different things turned out, even at Christmas we are not together. Fortunately we video call every day."

After The Hague she enjoys an active student life in the smaller town of Wageningen, "You cycle through it in no time." The environment of the Rhine with its floodplains is inspiring, she wants to specialize in water management. "Maybe when it comes to climate, we all put our heads in the sand, we knew it was coming but now act surprised at the bang." "Let's not blame each other but comfort each other and go for it together." If that's not love poetry....