Hooray for the Essay 2023

Queer. Woman. Introvert. Neurodiverse. Seven-fingered. Of color. Non-binary. Cisgender. Crip. Communist. ADHD'er. In what terms do you define yourself? And what does that story about yourself say about the world we live in? In this edition of Hooray for the Essay, we challenge you to think about that. 

Never before have we so openly shared who we are with the world: we post numerous selfies, end emails with personal pronouns and diagnose ourselves on dating apps. We prescribe ourselves to others, so to speak: this is how you should understand me. But what are we telling about ourselves when we tell about ourselves in this way?   
In this self-description, are we looking for grip and footing in a confusing world? Is it a form of protest against patriarchy, the heteronormative norm, binary thinking, the capitalist system? An attempt to coincide with yourself or to become who you are? Are we simply proud to belong to a certain group, from which we then distinguish ourselves with an even more specific description? What is lost when you define yourself?  
We are curious about your perspective and how the world can be viewed from there.


On Monday, Nov. 27 (before 10:00 a.m.), we expect your essay of up to 2000 words. Email your text to and On Friday, December 15, we will announce the winning essay during the Evening of the Essay at the Festival of Equality in Ghent. The winner will go home with 500 euro.

The jury

The jury: Jade Corbey (Pilar), Gilles Michiels (journalist at rekto:verso and De Standaard), Robin Goudsmit (Sharp and journalist at Trouw), Katrin Swartenbroux (journalist at De Morgen and author of Ok dan niet) and Claire Gastmans (deBuren).
Tips from juror Robin Goudsmit: 

"I think a good essay often seems to be about a small, defined topic, in which, on reading or re-reading, other, larger themes nevertheless shine through. Therefore, you don't have to name all your arguments either; suggestion is your friend.  
A good essay benefits from good descriptions. People often think of the genre as some kind of impersonal, theoretical exposition, but it doesn't have to be that way at all. A nice scene or anecdote, or flesh-and-blood characters make all reflections on any subject lighter, more empathetic, and ultimately more impressive. "
Tips from juror Gilles Michiels: 

"A good essay walks with me. By this I mean: an author takes me along, past temporary discoveries or conjectures, past relevant references or vistas, but without denying the pace of the quest itself. An essay does not meander, then it becomes noncommittal. Nor does an essay flank, then it becomes navel-gazing. Avoid the absolute bird's eye view, but describe very precisely how an environment or constellation will look different if you walk past it this way. "

Collaboration of deBuren, Pilar and Sharpshooter Robin Goudsmit

Written by Eline Vancraeyveldt

30 October 2023
Go back to blog

Related articles