OPEN CALL: The 2nd Queer and Feminist Poetry Awards

September 18, 2023

The Open Call for the 2nd Queer & Feminist Poetry Awards 2023 is CLOSED.

Unwanted Words is proud to invite you to participate in the 2nd Queer & Feminist Poetry Awards set to take place on Saturday, November 25th at WORM, Rotterdam.

The Awards represent a way to acknowledge the talent in our communities and a platform to help LGBTQ+ talent open doors to bigger stages and opportunities. They are a non-for-profit celebration of the best and most outstanding poets and spoken word artists whose works discuss topics of feminism and the queer experience from an intersectional perspective, centering on diverse and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) voices. The theme of this edition is “Decolonizing Gender”, an invitation to explore the ways slavery and colonialism have influenced the lives, rights, and realities of Brown, Black, and Indigenous women and LGBTQ+ people.

We are looking for stories, poems, and spoken word performances that carry messages of hope, joy, resilience, defiance, grief, anger, expression, healing, and the wide range of feelings, emotions and experiences that a complex topic like this may invoke.

We invite LGBTQ+ & feminist poets, writers, and spoken word artists based in the Netherlands to submit their applications to win an award in one of our six categories. Applicants are encouraged to submit their works for one or more categories for a chance to participate and win one of the awards. Please be sure to read all information about the call before submitting your application. The deadlines and requirements are detailed down below.

Deadline for applications:  Sunday, October 22nd 2023, 23.59hrs CET.

UPDATE: The open call is officially CLOSED.


The Queer & Feminist Poetry Awards are organized by Unwanted Words, an award-winning platform for up & coming queer voices working with poetry and spoken word, founded in Rotterdam in 2018. Following the success of the 1st Queer & Feminist Poetry Awards in 2020 and the publication of the Queer & Feminist Poetry Anthology in 2021, we are back with our second edition of our award ceremony. This initiative is possible thanks to the support of Gemeente Rotterdam, the subsidy “Ons koloniaal en slavernijverleden en de stad van nu”, and WORM Pirate Bay. Our second edition will be hosted in WORM, Rotterdam on the evening of Saturday, November 25th.

1. Objectives

The Queer & Feminist Poetry Awards will provide a stage for LGBTQ+ and feminist poets, writers, and spoken word artists in the Netherlands, inviting them to contribute to the body of poetry of BIPOC experiences, LGBTQ+ life, feminism(s), and (political) queerness. 

The goal of the Awards is to:

  • Celebrate original work from this intersectional community.
  • Sow seeds of interest, inspiration, and enthusiasm about Queer and Feminist poetry.
  • Showcase underrepresented voices from multiple backgrounds through poetry and spoken word.
  • Provide a stage for LGBTQ+ and feminist poets, writers, spoken word artists to perform, be celebrated and be heard, through online and offline audience engagement.
  • Cultivate the promotion of LGBTQ+ and feminist poets, writers, and spoken word artists to a broader audience.

2. The Categories:

There are two types of categories: Showcase and Nomination


Nominees will be asked to perform 1 (one) piece of max. 4-6 min duration during the Award ceremony. There will be 5 finalists/nominees for each category (max capacity subject to change). Participants can submit their application for multiple categories, but will only be selected to perform as finalists in one category.

The winners will be chosen during the night of the event by our panel of judges after performing live. Participants can apply to the following categories and perform their piece during the showcase block of the Queer & Feminist Poetry Awards:

  1. Best Queer Performance: Give us a taste of your queerness, your authentic defiance of heteronormativity, or your flawless criticism of cisgenderism. Tell us about your opinion or experience on how colonialism and slavery have impacted our perception and relationship to queerness, gender identity, sexual orientations, gender expression, etc. This award will be given to a performer with a compelling delivery and an authentic portrayal of LGBTQ+ experiences.
  1. Best Feminist Performance: Let us hear your story, notions of sex and gender, critique of sexism, or how you aim to take down patriarchy with your poetry. This award will be given to a poet/spoken word artist delivering a compelling performance of a feminist narrative connected to decolonial discourse.
  1. The BIPOC Voice Award: This Award is an ode to anti-racism and the ultimate middle finger to imperialism and white supremacy. Highlight your history, heritage, or personal experiences, express your frustration over colorism and discrimination, or share how much you love your melanin. This category is reserved for members of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color community.
  1. The Public’s Choice Award: Make your best impression on the audience, because they will choose the winner on the night of the event, based on the performances witnessed during the Awards Showcase. Participants from any category in the showcase can be eligible.

Click here to submit your application for the Showcase applications.


Participants can send their application online. The jury will determine a group of finalists based on each category’s criteria. The nominees for these categories will be invited to the event, but will not need to perform live. However, they will be asked to send extra documentation in their application for the jury to evaluate. The winner will be announced by the jury on the night of the event.  

  1. Best (Poetry & Spoken Word) Organization: This Award is given to an outstanding podium, platform, or event series that creates and fosters spaces for diverse talent to bloom and feel safe while expressing their stories, truths, and art. The organization does not need to work exclusively on LGBTQ+, feminist, or decolonial topics, but should nurture a space for these topics to be explored responsibly and safely. Note: This is the only category where Unwanted Words, as an organization, can directly nominate other candidates for the jury to evaluate.
  1. Poet of the Year: This award goes out to a trailblazer, someone who embodies their work, offers an excellent delivery and a message with an impact. Nominate your work or that of someone you know. This is the most prestigious award of the night and the winner will become the official ambassador of the next edition of the Queer & Feminist Poetry Awards. Note: We have extra requirements for this category.

We will notify the finalists in advance to make sure of their availability for the event. In case you cannot come to the Award Ceremony, we can potentially accommodate your application to make sure you participate remotely or online.

Click here to submit your application for Poet of the Year or Best Poetry & Spoken Word Organization.

3. Who can participate? 

Everybody is welcome to participate regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. To be eligible for an award, your work needs to cover topics of feminism(s) and/or the LGBTQ+ experience. Note: For this edition, we highly encourage all submissions to be directly related to the theme. This can be through the content of the poetry/spoken word piece OR through the connection of the performer’s lived experience to their artistic background.

Unwanted Words takes an open stance against racism, islamophobia, transphobia, and any other form of discrimination and xenophobia. We are a pro-black, pro-feminist celebration, pro-indigenous peoples liberation, and support the Black Lives Matter movement. If your beliefs, discourse, or work promote hate speech, discrimination, or share views that compromise people’s well-being and human rights, we reserve the right to deny participation and entry to the event to ensure a space that is safe and inclusive for everyone.

Participants from any nationality and immigration status are welcome, but you must reside within the Netherlands during the period of application. The Queer & Feminist Poetry Awards will not cover transportation costs for the participants to the Awards Ceremony. More information about the Award Ceremony coming soon.

Participants can apply in English or Dutch. However, the event will be held in English.

4. How to apply?

Every participant must submit their application online through our official form with the following information:

  • —Full name
  • —Stage name
  • —Pronouns
  • —Contact details
  • —Social Media handle (Instagram)
  • —The category(ies) for which you’re applying
  • —Bio: A short description of yourself as a performer. 3-5 lines describing your style, achievements, and relevant information about yourself.
  • —A portrait or photo of you/your stage persona
  • —Performance: A 4-6min. video (.MP4) of you performing a spoken word piece or poem that corresponds to the category(ies) for which you’re applying.
  • —Written transcript: Your spoken word piece or poem in written form.

We will not take the quality of the video into consideration for your application. If you do not feel comfortable showing your face on video for privacy reasons, feel free to get creative in how you present your identity/face. The only requirement is it must be you who is performing the piece.

Submissions do not have to be new or unpublished to be eligible. However, the pieces must be original works written and performed by the artists participating. Covers or renditions of work from other artists are not allowed. 

Participants can apply to more than one category simultaneously but can only be eligible to win ONE (1) award – this way, more people will get a chance to win.

We request you send your application and submission in English. Your poem or spoken word piece, however, can be in either English or Dutch.

Special requirements:

For the Poet of the Year category, we request extra documentation so the jury can make a well-informed decision:

Poet of the Year

This Award is our most prestigious category and we want to acknowledge the work of a poet/artist whose artistry has left an impact in the community. To do so, along with the rest of the information in the application form and your video performance, please submit a document in PDF listing the following:

  • —A brief description of your trajectory as a poet or spoken word artist.
  • —How does your work embody the LGBTQ+ and/or Feminist experience?
  • —How has your work inspired or impacted your community? And how does it relate to the theme of this edition?
  • —Photo or video footage of previous performances.
  • —(Optional) Links or screenshots of press & media coverage.
  • —(Optional) Other awards you have received.

The Poet of the Year is not necessarily the most experienced or awarded applicant; but rather the artist who most skillfully reflects the values of the Queer & Feminist Poetry Awards and can be a beacon of hope and inspiration for their community.

Click here to apply for Poet of the Year.

The deadline for applications is Sunday, October 22nd 2023, 23.59hrs CET.

If you have any questions or comments about your application and submission, feel free to contact us at

5. Rewards

The winners of the categories will get a coveted spot in the Queer & Feminist Poetry Hall of Fame and an engraved trophy to commemorate their win.

The winners of each category will receive the following package:
-A custom-made trophy designed by Unwanted Words
-An invitation to perform at an All-Winners program curated by Unwanted Words during Poetry International Festival 2024
-An invitation to perform at an event organized by Mensen Zeggen Dingen
-A goodie bag with a copy the Galaxy Gazette by The Writer’s Guide & a copy of PAGES by Word-Up, plus a branded tote-bag by House of Sanaa
-Their own original design for a t-shirt and tote bag with a quote of their winning poem & their name for the new collection of the House of Sanaa x Unwanted Words collaboration, which will be available for sale in Winter 2024 (more info coming soon)

All participants will get an invitation to be featured in a future Unwanted Words publication, such as a possible 2nd Queer & Feminist Poetry Anthology.  

6. Procedure & timeline

The procedure is as follows:

  • —Open call live: Monday, September 18th, 2023.
  • —Submission of applications closes on Sunday, October 22nd 2023, 23.59hrs CET.
  • —The Unwanted Words team will review the applications to confirm they’ve been submitted properly.
  • —The jury meets to evaluate applications.
  • —The jury does the pre-selection of nominees and finalists for each category by Friday, October 27th 2023.
  • —Selected applicants are invited to participate in the showcase. Invitations are expected to go out in early November.
  • —Announcement of finalists on Social Media: Early November.
  • —The Award announcement and ceremony will take place on Saturday, November 25th at WORM.

7. Jury

The 2nd Queer & Feminist Poetry Awards jury will comprise BIPOC and LGBTQ+ experienced writers. The Unwanted Words core team will not judge or be part of a jury process.

Zaïre Krieger

Zaïre Krieger is an award-winning Spoken Word Artist (Spoken Award ‘Gospel’ 2019) who has performed at Van Gogh Museum and TEDxAmsterdamWomen, among many others. She has a degree in International & European Law and is currently working as a journalist for various platforms, such as Dipsaus, Oneworld deVARAGids, and Vice NL. She has already been a jury member for the 1st Queer & Feminist Poetry Awards back in 2020, she has translated Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem ‘The Hill we Climb’, and she has also co-organized the Black Lives Matter protests in Rotterdam. She is currently working on her debut bundle.

Daniëlle Zawadi

Daniëlle Zawadi (1999) writes prose and performs spoken word art. Her stories are often about what it means to be young as a second-generation immigrant, originally born in the Democratic Republic of Congo but raised in the Netherlands. An immense passion for writing led Zawadi to start a spoken word platform in The Hague: Het Zwarte Schaap. She was also a participant in the Letterenfonds’ Slow Writing Lab and won the Black Indigenous People of Color Voice Award during the 1st Queer & Feminist Poetry Awards in 2020. She attended the Das Mag writer camp in 2022. During the same year, she was also at the 39th Night of Poetry. She was coach of Poetry Circle 070 in the 2022/2023 season. She is currently a program maker at Poetry International Rotterdam and Crossing Border The Hague.

Geoffrey van der Ven

Geoffrey looks at the world with a curious eye. He experiences, listens, and puts stories on the table. His pieces are sharp, critical, and often activist. As a spoken word artist and dramaturgist, he narrates stories which have stayed unheard for far too long. Geoffrey is currently on tour with his solo performance ‘Het is niet nieuw’, in which he highlights the queer history of Africa. He previously won the ‘Poet of the Year’ Award at the 1st Queer & Feminist Poetry Awards in 2020, his speech was broadcast at the Eurovision Song Festival, and he performed at major stages and events, such as the Nieuwe Luxor Theater, Rotterdam Pride, and Museum Night.

8. Submission

The Queer and Feminist Awards 2023 application can be found on the website of Unwanted Words ( Only applications done through the official form will be taken into account.

You will receive a confirmation of receipt no later than 10 working days after you submit your application.

Privacy note: Unwanted Words will use your personal data only for the Queer & Feminist Poetry Awards competition of 2023 and further notifications regarding the process and upcoming related events. Your personal data will not be shared with any other parties except for the jury of the Award ceremony.

Once again:

Submit your application for the Showcase categories.

Submit your application for Poet of the Year or Best Poetry & Spoken Word Organization.

About Unwanted Words:

Unwanted Words is the first platform for emerging LGBTQ+ poets and spoken word artists in the Netherlands. Our goal as a platform is to create spaces where LGBTQ+ talent can thrive and connect with like-minded communities.

We are on a mission to provide more options for safe(r) spaces and opportunities for queer connection and growth. We do this through our Queer Poetry Nights series, spoken word workshops, and – most recently – our Queer & Feminist Poetry Anthology. We aim to promote and empower queer voices from an intersectional approach.

This award-winning project was created in September 2018 by Luis Bracamontes (He/They), a queer immigrant & Spoken Word artist from Mexico. Our current team consists of volunteers who celebrate diversity. We are a mix of queer and non-binary feminists, BIPOC or white, Dutch nationals, migrants, immigrants, and refugees. As a collective, we openly oppose racism, xenophobia, able-bodiedism, and other forms of structural and direct discrimination.

At all of our events, we strive to create safer spaces where we value intersection voting, consent, and privacy. That’s why we’ve created our guidelines and house rules to uplift, celebrate, and center queer BIPOC (Black, Indigenous People of Colour) individuals.