Professional writers in Friesland are multi-facetted. Lots of them work for the local media and can be seen and heard on various platforms where they often use Dutch alongside the ubiquitous Frisian. They are increasingly profiling themselves internationally, as exemplified by Eeltsje Hettinga; as Poet of Friesland in 2018 and 2019, he always immediately translates all his poems into English, making them accessible to a wider audience.
Authors also make international contacts by participating in exchange programmes such as Other Words. Poet Geart Tigchelaar is literally riding his poetry into the world, for the project Cycling out of Poverty. Writers are also increasingly cooperating, both with each other and with artists from other disciplines.
Besides all this, writers are still being published. De Afûk has been successfully promoting and distributing work by Frisian authors both in the Netherlands and the wider world. However, publishing a book is not a writer’s sole goal. The oral tradition of storytelling is still an integral part of Frisian life, and this is a place where a writer is also a collector of stories and a listener with a keen ear. Poetry, a lively genre in Friesland, also lends itself well to public performances and expressions. Writers are highly visible in Friesland, and this is not limited to Leeuwarden. It’s felt throughout the province thanks to the many initiatives, including those by FERS.
With the plans for UNESCO City of Literature, Leeuwarden is focussing on facilitating writers and helping them professionalise. The initiatives include an overarching Creative Writing Programme (in which writers can develop multilingual and interdisciplinary skills) and an ambitious residency programme (in which writers can show their work to a larger audience). For more about the future of literature in Friesland, click here.