Ivo Michiels has received the America Award 2012 from The Contemporary Arts Educational Project for his lifetime contribution to international writing. It is the first time in its history that the prize has been awarded to a Flemish author.
The America Award, which describes itself as a modest attempt at providing alternatives to the Nobel Prize in Literature, was first presented in 1994. Each year, the jury comprises 6 to 8 American poets, prose writers, playwrights and literary critics.This year, it consisted of Paul Vangelisti (poet and translator), Marjorie Perloff (critic and professor of literature at Stanford University), Deborah Meadows (poet), Mac Wellman (playwright, author and poet), Martin Nakell (professor of literature and poetry and fiction author), and Douglas Messerli, secretary. The award does not entail any prize money.
Here are just a few from the impressive list of past winning authors: Harold Pinter (1995), Friederike Mayröcker (1997), Rafael Alberti (1998), Jacques Roubaud (1999), Peter Handke (2002), Adonis (2003), José Saramago (2004), Andrea Zanzotto (2005), John Ashbery (2008), Günter Kunert (2009) and Javier Marias (2010).
2011 saw the publication of Ivo Michiels’ ‘Mag ik spreken?’ [May I Speak?], in which his ten-part novel cycle ‘Journal Brut’ (1983-2001) has been forged into a new, accessible whole. For this book, Michiels chose the most important, most beautiful and most striking passages from the cycle, as he is a great believer in the vitality and eternal changeability of a literary text.
‘Journal brut’ was preceded by the ‘Alfacycle’, whose first two parts, the ‘Book Alpha’ and ‘Orchis Militaris’, will soon be published in English translation by the American publishing house Green Integer, with support from the Flemish Literature Fund. The same publishing house is also planning to release the other three parts: ‘Exit’, ‘Samuel o Samuel’ and ‘Dixi(t)’.
Ivo Michiels’ books are published in the original language by De Bezige Bij.
Ivo Michiels (1923) is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature and in 1993 he received an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of Brussels. He has received many awards both in Belgium and internationally, including the Flemish State Prize for Prose and the three-yearly Flemish Community Prize.