On Wednesday 1 December, this year’s Principal Prince Claus Award was presented to the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish at the Royal Palace. Darwish has been granted this award for his powerful and world-famous poetry that depicts his life as an exile and his desire for his native country.
Darwish has been awarded the prize in recognition of an “impressive body of work” written while in exile, the royal foundation said. “In his work, he manages to highlight the consequences of forced migration and also shows the power of beauty in difficult times,” the Prince Claus Foundation said in a statement.
The award reflects the Fund’s new focus on the positive results of asylum and migration.The other nine laureates will be presented with their awards in their own countries. Since 1997 the Prince Claus Awards have been presented annually by the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development to artists, thinkers and cultural organisations that are mainly located in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Through these awards, the Fund pays homage to the laureates for their oeuvre and their dedication to culture and social engagement. This year, the laureates have been honoured for their contributions to theatre, literature, sport, dance, cultural heritage and social involvement. For the first time, awards have been granted to laureates in Palestine, Myanmar (formerly Burma),Tajikistan and Bhutan.
Mahmoud Darwish (1942, Palestine) is one of the most important contemporary Arab poets to achieve international fame. His award has been granted for his impressive oeuvre in which he articulates his personal experiences as a poet in protracted exile in simple but powerful language. His work draws attention to the consequences of forced migration and he consistently emphasises the power of beauty in difficult circumstances.
Darwish was born in 1942 in Berweh near Acre, Palestine. When the state of Israel was founded in 1948, he fled with his family to Lebanon. He later returned and worked as a journalist in Haifa. However, his political activities resulted in his deportation from Israel in 1970. He studied in Moscow and spent 26 years in exile in Beirut, Cyprus, Paris,Tunis and Amman. He returned to Ramallah in 1996. Darwish’s impassioned oeuvre revolves around a longing for peace and his personal quest for identity and his native country.
The Prince Claus Fund stimulates and supports activities in the field of culture and development by granting awards, funding and producing publications and by financing and promoting networks and innovative cultural activities. Support is given to people and organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Equality, respect and trust are the essential parameters of such partnerships; quality and originality are the preconditions of support.
The Prince Claus Fund for Culture and development was established to mark the 70th birthday of H.R.H. Prince Claus of the Netherlands on September 6th, 1996, for the purpose of ‘expanding insight into cultures and promoting interaction between culture and development’. The Fund adopts a broad and dynamic approach to culture, based on the concept of a constantly changing culture.
Culture refers both to the way people go about their daily lives and to values and processes of investing life with meaning. The Fund’s chief interest is in the development of ideas and ideals and the manner in which people give form to them. The Fund is aware of the post-colonial situation in which an ‘imposed’ culture has become part of indigenous culture. This has resulted in cultural activities which generate new ideas and forge new contexts.