Brussels city poet Lisette Ma Neza performs inaugural poem at Central station

Brussels Central station was filled with poetry and music on Thursday morning as Brussels' first city poet, Lisette Ma Neza, performed a piece she wrote in honour of World Poetry Day.

Alternating between spoken word and singing, Ma Neza was accompanied by pianist Neil Akenzua while she performed her poem "nous sommes à l'aise" (we are at ease) for commuters in the station during the morning rush hour. The piece switches between Dutch and French, telling the story of the community in Brussels.

Ma Neza recalled Brussels Central being the first place she set foot in the capital when she arrived to attend film school. “The central station is a place of comings and goings, and Brussels itself is a bit like that. The residents here come from everywhere and people come and go in this city," she told Het Nieuwsblad. Originally from the Netherlands, Ma Neza has Rwandan roots.

While writing the poem, Ma Neza was inspired by the portraits of ordinary Brussels residents through the lens of photographer Melanie Musisi.

Nous sommes à l'aise is the first in a series of 19 poems that Ma Neza will write over the next two years as the first Brussels city poet. “Together, they will form one Brussels story," she says. "I still have a lot of ideas and the intention is to visit many places in the Brussels region. In addition, there are many requests from Brussels organisations for poems, and I also want to work on that."

Ma Neza was due to perform her poem a second time in Brussels Central between 15.00 and 18.00 on Thursday.

Granting the title of city poet comes from the initiative Brussels 2030, positioning Brussels as a candidate to become the cultural capital of Europe in 2030.



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