The publisher introduced the evening’s guests: Leonard Nolens who was recently awarded the Dutch Literature Prize (the most prestigious Dutch literary prize), and his English translator Paul Vincent.
The publisher opening the event
Paul Vincent made an interesting selection of Nolens’s poems. We were delighted that this included a few poems from Bres (Breach) which won the VSB Poetry Prize in 2008, and Zeg aan de kinderen dat wij niet deugen (Tell the Children we’re up to No Good), Nolens’s very well received most recent collection.
The readings were delightful especially because each poem was read in English and Dutch. Nolens reading in Dutch gave us a powerful insight in the rhythm, internal rhyme, flow and atmosphere of his poems.
Leonard Nolens (on the right) and Paul Vincent (on the left) reading
The evening concluded with a lively question and answer session, and we learned some wonderful facts about Nolens:
He only reads work by poets who are dead.
He writes during office hours in a space located in another town, just equipped with pen and paper. He deliberately cuts himself off from modern society, although he admits to be keen to check his emails when he’s back home.
He doesn’t re-read his own poems so if he does, he wants to be surprised.
That’s why it was so special to be present when Nolens read poems he had never read in public before.
Leonard Nolens (right) & Paul Vincent (left) close up
Leonard Nolens sees the poet as a medium through which ideas and words are channelled. Every poet is the sum of all words uttered by the people he has come across.
In answer to the question: ‘Does it help to be poor to create good art?’ Nolens said: ‘A writer starts with a blank page, so this page is very poor.’
This evening was sponsored by the Flemish Literary Fund, the Belgium Embassy and Holland Park Press and took place in the Poetry Cafe run by the Poetry Society.
We thank our sponsors, speakers and audience who together made this an unforgettable evening.
If you’ve missed this evening, we hope you enjoyed the pictures, and as a treat you can read the first poem of Bres.
This event is part of the Poetry & Translation series and we’ll shortly announce the next event in our series. Events take place on the last Wednesday of each month and start at 19.30.