1000 Poets

The Dutch Poetry Night on tour! We are looking for one thousand poets and poetry readers to recite poems in a language of their preference at the 1,000 Poets marathon between 24 September and 7 October 2023.

This year will mark the 40th edition of the Netherland's best-loved poetry festival, the Dutch Poetry Night. To celebrate, ILFU is going all-out with a wildly megalomaniacal two-week extravaganza, 1,000 Poets.

We will officially kick off 1,000 Poets on 24 September during the Utrecht Book Market on Vredenburgplein, with the official installation of the new Poet Laureate of the Netherlands: Babs Gons. Her first poem will also serve as the start signal for two weeks of non-stop recitals and slams, where anyone can listen or join in. The event will then hit the road on a two-week tour of booksellers in every province of the country, before the caravan returns to Utrecht on 7 October for the 1,000th poet, and of course the 40th Poetry Night celebration.

All of the performances will be broadcast via livestream on this webpage. Eventually, the performances will result in an anthology of 1,000 recited poems, which express the many faces of Dutch poetry, in all of the languages and dialects spoken in our country.

Missed an event? See all poets on the ILFU Youtube channel

During the annual Dutch Poetry Night event, there is only time for 20 poets to perform. But the Dutch language area has hundreds of published and professional slam poets, thousands of aspiring poets and many, many more who write poems in their free time. In fact, past research has found 600,000 to 800,000 people who write poetry on a regular basis. To mark the 40th anniversary of the Dutch Poetry Night, we aim to give 1,000 of them the opportunity to perform during this special event.

The 1,000 Poets Marathon will begin and end in Utrecht, but the caravan will also stop by booksellers in every province of the Netherlands and Flanders. From De Groene Waterman in Antwerpen to Van der Velde in Harlingen, and from Boekhandel Dominicanen in Maastricht to De Nieuwe Bibliotheek in Almere; each will host dozens of people reading their own poems or their favourite poets’ work, to move us and amuse us with the power and appeal of the most beautiful of literary genres: poetry. In addition to the volunteer poets, the marathon will also include performances by familiar and famous poets, readers and musicians. Participants can sign up for the location and time of their choice to either read one of their own poems or their favourite verse by another poet. Participation and admission are free.

1,000 Poets: the tour

1,000 Poets: the history

The idea for 1,000 Poets came from F. Starik and Vrouwkje Tuinman. Starik wanted to organise a large poetry festival in Amsterdam in 2003. “A Dutch Poetry Night in extremis,” Starik recalls. “With a thousand poets in a non-hierarchical setup, in the certainty that the celebrated, the up-and-coming, but also the old, all-but-forgotten poet, the uprooted refugee, the young lover, the medal-laden athlete, the third-year art student, the 16 ambitious Literature students from Nijmegen, the deaf poet reciting in sign language, the desperate housewife who’s lost her only child, the high-powered accountant who cherishes his mangled verse at night, the stuttering beggar writing lines in the margins of a newspaper, the soul-sufferer and the insufferable grammar Nazi... in the certainty that every one of them will recite the most beautiful verse ever written that evening.” She took the plan to Carré and the Concertgebouw, then to Vredenburg and the Stadsschouwburg in Utrecht in 2009, and then to the Leidseplein theatres in Amsterdam; but willing sponsors were few and far between. Now, 20 years later and five years after Starik’s death, the time is finally ripe to bring Starik & Tuinman’s plan to life, on a nation-wide tour.

Starik had already produced a trailer for 1,000 Poets in 2005. It was never used, because the event was not held that year either.