Ruth Lasters, one of the five city poet, resigns after her critical poem about education was refused by Alderman of Culture Nabilla Ait Daoud (N-VA). The ships felt that it did not qualify as a city poem. “We are very concerned about this,” said Antwerp Green city councilor Niel Staes.
Sacha Van Wiele
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Six months ago, the Antwerp city council appointed five poets as city poet. As a result, the formula of one city poet for a period of two years was abandoned.
“We warned then that this was not a promotion for the city poet in Antwerp”, says Staes. “We feared that these city poets were mainly made invisible and underaged and that the city council simply wanted more control over their work. The censorship that ships Ait Daoud now applies to Lasters’ poem is proof of this. The city council pays and therefore wants to determine the content of the poems. Antwerp’s culture ships hoped for slavish city poets. It is now clear what the repercussions are for those who are critical.”
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According to Staes, the latter is at odds with the philosophy of the city poet.
“A city poet must be able to look critically at what is happening in society and hold up a mirror to the city council,” says the Groen municipal councilor. “The fact that the poem criticizes the broader education policy and is not directly linked to Antwerp is no excuse. Other city poets also wrote poems about what was happening in society and the world at large. So that’s no excuse to dismiss this poem and the city poet. This is an embarrassment to culture ships Ait Daoud.”
Groen urges an end to this way of working and pleads for one city poet to return to Antwerp.