Carl Norac will be Belgium’s National Poet for two years starting on 1 January 2020. “I am happy to learn that I’ve been chosen to be the next National Poet,” Norac, who is from Mons, said at a press conference on Tuesday. “It’s an announcement that has a symbolic and emotional value for me, at a time when I’m coming back to live in Belgium, in Ostend.”
The poet, who has lived in France for 20 years, sees the next eight months as a “gestation” period. It will be a time for “reflecting on the projects to come,” he said, “but already the ideas are bubbling up.”
Carl Norac will be Belgium’s fourth national poet, after Els Moors (2018-2019), Laurence Veille (2016-2017) and Charles Ducal (2014-2015). His mission will be to write poems inspired by Belgium, its history and its present, meet the public, visit schools and make Belgian poetry known throughout the country and beyond. Within Belgium, he will carry out his mission in all three of the country’s linguistic communities.
Norac represented Belgium in the European project, TRANSPOESIE, in 2011, when his poems were exposed on the corridors of the Brussels subway. His collections of poems have received three awards from the Royal Academy of French Language and Literature, and when Mons was named the cultural capital of Europe in 2015, he was its “associated poet”.
He is also the author of 80 books of short stories or poetry for children.
During his term, the incoming National Poet aims to bring together Belgium’s Dutch-, French- and German-language schools in a “flagship project” that is still in the reflection stage. He also plans to support projects begun under the aegis of his immediate predecessor, Els Moors, such as the creation of a festival of Arab poetry in Brussels, which should come on stream in March 2020.
The title of National Poet of Belgium is an initiative of the Poëziecentrum of Ghent, the Maison de la Poésie et de la Langue Française of Namur and the Antwerp-based literary organization VONK & Zonen, in collaboration with the Maison des Littératures Passa Porta in Bruxelles.
Since 2015, other institutions and organizations have signed on to the project, namely the Maison de la Poésie d’Amay, the FiEstival maelstrOm, Midis de la Poésie in Brussels and Jeugd en Poëzie in Antwerp.