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Entangling Palestinian and Dutch Poetry: Najwan Darwish and Anne Vegter

  • Najwan Darwish
  • Anne Vegter
Tuesday 11 October 2016
University Library
Witte Singel 27
2311 BG Leiden
Heinsius room

Human rights and democracy are universal topics relevant to both Dutch and Palestinian society. Palestinian life is mainly studied from the prisms of politics and conflict, while other cultural products are often overlooked. LUCIS aims at creating a dialogue between Dutch and Palestinian culture through poetry. This workshop will show the versatility of literature as a source for the understanding of the historical, political, and societal tropes used in Palestinian poetry and compare these with what can be found in Dutch poetry. What is universal and what is unique for the Palestinian and Dutch cases?

For this purpose, Najwan Darwish (Palestine) and Anne Vegter (the Netherlands), two renowned national and international poets, will read and analyse a selection of their poetry with an international group of students from Leiden University as well as Birzeit University. Both poets have participated in many poetry platforms such as the prestigious Poetry International Rotterdam. They have also had notable stands on issues related to human rights and democracy. Vegter has been involved in the political and literary discussions about the Arab world and their link to the European/Dutch society. Darwish looks at time comparatively through bridging the past with the present to stress the increasing atrocities in our present time.

About the workshop

Students will read several poems by the two poets in advance and during the workshop the poems will be analysed and discussed with the poets themselves. The workshop takes place at the Leiden University Library. All Leiden University students who are interested are invited to participate. In addition, students, primarily from the English department at Birzeit University, will participate through a live-streamed connection.

The poetry workshop will tackle questions such as: how can poetry as a craft, function on different registers, like the personal and the communal, the mundane and the heroic, and the sadness and happiness in life? How do these poets express their emotions and thoughts regarding issues of land, identity, and relations with ‘the other’? And what is the link between the original poem and its translation? These thematic and linguistic tropes will be discussed through a comparative reading of the poems of Darwish and Vegter. The discussion will be stimulated by the two poets’ conviction of the power of the word as a way of representation and a vehicle for change.

Najwan Darwish

About the poets

Najwan Darwish is a Palestinian poet, journalist, and literary advisor. In 2009, Hay Festival Beirut named him one of the 39 best Arab writers under the age of 40. His collection of poetry, Nothing More to Lose, which was translated into English by Kareem James Abu-Zeid, has received many positive reviews in the national and international literary scene.


Anne Vegter

Anne Vegter is the first female ‘National Poet’ of The Netherlands. She has been praised for her spontaneity in writing and her precise use of words in creating the atmosphere of her poems. Vegter has been extremely involved in national and international concerns and debates, especially in regards to the issue of the refugees in the Netherlands.

Prof.dr. Yra van Dijk


Prof.dr. Yra van Dijk (Professor of Modern Dutch Literature in a Global Perspective) will moderate the workshop. 





Students interested in the workshop can register by sending an e-mail to lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl. The workshop will be in English. The poems will be sent to the participants in advance.


Students from the Birzeit University will participate in the workshop through a live-streamed connection.



This workshop is made possible through generous support of the A.M. Qattan Foundation and the Lutfia Rabbani Foundation.

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