The first international RUG-poet goes, a new one is wanted

Every academic year, the RUG appoints a new house poet. With the 2019 applications underway, current house poet Sofia Manouki shares her own experiences.
By Valeska Schietinger

For Sofia, 29, applying for the position of the RUG house poet was a new experience. Sofia had only started writing poetry about a year before applying, and saw the role as her chance to explore the art more deeply.

‘I was more into prose’, Sofia says. ‘You need to have a more mature outlook to be a poet. I don’t think I could have done that in my early twenties or adolescence’.

The house poet is expected to write a poem each month, attend events, and present the poems in front of audiences.


Sofia, who is half Greek and half Japanese, was the RUG’s first international house poet. That’s been interesting, she says.

‘There is a big poetry culture here, but it is Dutch: by the Dutch, for the Dutch.’ Presenting her work in English was an unusual thing at most of the events she attended.

Being in the spotlight so much also took some getting used to. She had to reconcile her public role with parts of her Japanese culture. ‘You are definitely not supposed to brag or promote yourself too much’, she says. But that didn’t stop her from writing and performing her art.


Her year as house poet was ‘very interesting, very inclusive, and provided a lot of opportunities that obviously I wouldn’t have had otherwise’. But she would have liked to make a bigger impact on international students.

‘I feel like as the first international poet, that was a great opportunity to connect to non-Dutch speakers, students especially’, she says. ‘I don’t know if that was achieved as much as it could have been.’

For now, Sofia is working on her anthology, which will be published in September. She will also help select a new house poet. To her successor, she says: ‘just be open to everything – and have fun!’


Spoiler alert for truths:
Something’s about to happen

Startled and Sketchy audiences
Seize & desist your clappin’

Stranded, the capsized ego’s

S.O.S. praying to nothing

Sometimes it takes a single
To drop a stupid pattern

By Sofia Manouki

Want to be the new RUG-poet? Find out how on this webpage.


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