VUB rector and guest festival curator Caroline Pauwels praised Ma Neze at the ceremony. “You represent the tremendous resilience of a generation that has weathered storms close to home over the past year and a half, but also made itself heard with dignity when there was justifiable cause for concern and outrage on the broader world stage. For that hopeful engagement too, which is an essential foundation of your literature, we bow our heads deeply today. And yes, we also pay tribute to the fully literary nature of slam poetry, to the social commitment woven into its DNA, and to its intense bond between writer and listener.”
The jury’s choice of Ma Neza was worded as follows: “In Lisette Ma Neza, we crown not only a new literary voice of our student generation, but also a full-fledged literary genre that deserves recognition.”
The jury consisted of Ilke Froyen, director of the international literature house Passa Porta in Brussels, Sofie Gielis, reviewer and lecturer at PXL-MAD art school in Hasselt, and writer and columnist Dalilla Hermans, and was chaired by VUB professor Wim Vandenbussche.
VUB is awarding two Luc Bucquoye prizes for literature this year. Writer and poet Donald Niedekker will officially receive his prize in the autumn in Brussels.
Lisette Ma Neza
Lisette Ma Neza (Leiderdorp, Netherlands, 1998) studied film at the LUCA school of arts in Brussels. She appeared as the voice of a new literary generation when she won the 2017 Belgian Poetry Slam Championship, making her the first Dutch speaker, first woman and first poet of colour to do so. In 2018 she became vice-world champion of slam poetry at the Flup literary festival in Rio de Janeiro.
A VUB fund for literature
Since 2018, the VUB Luc Bucquoye Fund for Literature has awarded a prize to “an author who excels through Dutch-language work that demonstrates reasonable individuality through, among other things, freedom of thought, commitment, contrariness and the stimulation of emotion and intellect”. Previous laureates include Pjeroo Roobjee and Charlotte Mutsaers.
Donor Luc Bucquoye wants the prize to contribute to a greater role for literature in the social debate: “In the world of science we see a dominance of the harder sciences. It is certainly not inappropriate for human sciences to help them in their occupation of the social field. Reflection and curiosity offer new perspectives for research within different disciplines and can bring improvement.”
The VUB Luc Bucquoye Prize is supported by the VUB Foundation.