about vers brussel

Stage 1: ten poets from around the world were inspired by Brussels to produce unique poems.

Stage 2: Belgian artists gave shape to the words of the poets by creating visual works.

The result? Ten poems and visual works have now been grafted into several of the capital’s neighbourhoods.

the concept

In 2004, Passa Porta took an initiative to capitalise on Brussels' linguistic riches and give poetry a prominent and permanent place in the city in a variation on the official poets in other cities have.
Thus was born ‘Vers Brussel - Poetry in the City’, a project that injects massive doses of poetry into the various areas of Brussels.The result is that Brussels now features an urban network connecting 10 lyrical works of art in 10 different areas.

1 Henri Jacobs Molenbeek Palimpsest © Maurine Toussaint 2

The project ‘Vers Brussel’ can be summed up in six keywords: poetry, visual arts, Brussels, neighbourhood, and participation.

Twelve poets from as many language areas, from Lisbon to Moscow and from Stockholm to Kinshasa, together wrote a colourful and polyphonic ode to the poetry of the metropolis.

For a whole week, the poets immersed themselves in the daily life of a piece of Brussels in the company of a Belgian artist. They visited the squares, parks and streets, the houses and cafes, and listened to the inhabitants and their stories. They then wrote new poetry on the basis of their impressions, in a language which is the mother tongue of a great many Brussels residents.

Vers Brussel Maurine Toussaint 5 copie

Over the past few years, the twelve visual artists have been responsible for a number of temporary interventions in Brussels' public space, whereby they have added their visual interpretation to the work of the poets. The local residents were also active partners, for example by taking part in workshops on word and image.

Furthermore, ten artists created a permanent work of art, a symbiosis of the poet's and artist's view of the district they visited together. Ten works have since been inaugurated, creating a poetic circuit of ten works of art of lasting value throughout the city. Another way of ‘reading' the city.

take the route

Thanks to different tools, make your own way through the artworks of Vers Brussel and take advantage of our itinerary designed on RouteYou, or draw your own walk with the Bike Brussels route planner, for example.


You can also get our free brochure! In this leaflet you will find out more about the artworks, the poets and the artists. You will also find extracts from the poems and practical information with which you yourself can set out to explore. Don’t forget to take your pencil with you, since now and then you will be invited to write or draw something. These small assignments appeal to your own imagination and creativity in order to awaken the poet in you.

It is available in Passa Porta and from several of our partners. It also exists in PDF, just click on the link in the footer.

Because Brussels needs poetry. It’s not that more poems are needed.
But simply more poetry. More poetic effect. More wonder. (…)
No, it’s not a question of serving up a few lines of verse on a platter.
On the contrary, it’s a question of putting Brussels into verse. Otherwise it wouldn’t be worth it.

David Van Reybrouck

5 Dora García Tu Es La Langue Plurielle © Maurine Toussaint 1

Nowhere were lines of verse simply painted on a wall. Poetry is here conceived as a practice in the broadest sense of the term. By hitching together creation and participation, the international house of literature Passa Porta created with Vers Brussel a good context in which multilayered and multilingual work could emerge, rich in impressions, unpredictable and never complete.

Vers Brussel - Poetry in the City is supported by the Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie van het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest and the Nationale Loterij.

8 Els Opsomer Mbogo Où Es Tu  Waar Ben Je © Maurine Toussaint 3

Pictures © Maurine Toussaint
Illustrations © PikNik Graphic