'Nolens makes Dutch sing again,' said the jury, chaired by Herman Pleij. The jury called Nolens an 'exceptional poet and a highly gifted reader' and characterised his work as 'a life-long struggle with language and a quest for his own identity and that of others'.
The laureate was overwhelmed by the news on Wednesday morning. He was sitting in his study when Minister Smet called. 'It was if the outside world was coming inside in some ethereal way'.
Since his debut in 1969, Nolens has amassed an impressive oeuvre. His collection of poems 'Liefdes verklaringen' ['Declarations of Love'] (1990) was awarded the Jan Campert Prize in the Netherlands and the Triennial State Prize in Belgium. In 1997 he received the Constantijn Huygens Prize for lifetime achievement. In 2008, he was awarded the VSB Poetry Prize for the collection, 'Bres' ['Breach'].
Every three years, the Committee of Ministers of the Dutch Language Union awards the Dutch Literature Prize. The prize is presented to the authors of important literary works written originally in Dutch. Each time, a member of either the Belgian or the Dutch royal family presents the prize-winning author with the award. The prize can be awarded for a writer's lifetime achievement or for an individual work in the genres of poetry, narrative prose or drama.
Minister Pascal Smet announced the news in the Bourlaschouwburg theatre during a festive evening to celebrate Leonard Nolens' 65th birthday. Publishers Querido issued a new, increased monumental edition of Nolens' collected works on the occasion of this birthday, under the title, 'Manieren van leven. Gedichten 1975-2011' ['Ways of Living. Poems 1975 – 2011'], which forms a diptych together with 'Dagboek van een dichter' ['A Poet's Diary'].
An English translation of Leonard Nolens' work is expected and there is a great deal of interest in the idea of compiling an anthology translated into Spanish.