passa porta residence



Today we welcome the American author David Vann in Brussels. He writes fiction as well as non-fiction, and is professor at the University of Warwick in England.

Vann made his debut with the semi-autobiographical story collection Legend of a Suicide (2008), which has been translated to more than twenty languages and has won several international prizes, such as the Prix Médicis Etranger. His most recent book is the novel Aquarium (2015).

David Vann is staying in the writers' flat at the Old Grain Market for the coming five weeks. During his residence, you can meet him at several events:

He is also participating to several events in The Netherlands. He will be giving a public lecture and masterclass at the University of Maastricht, and participates to the literature festival Crossing Border in The Hague. 


Alma Mathijsen, currently spending her last week as a resident in Brussels, talks about how she immediately felt at home in Passa  Porta's writers' apartment (clip in Dutch). 


Today we welcome the young Dutch author Alma Mathijsen in Brussels. She will be staying in the writers' flat at the Old Grain Market for the coming three weeks. During her residence, she will be working on the manuscript of her new novel, which will be published at the end of next year. 


Davide Enia is spending his last week as writer in residence in Brussels. In this video, he talks about the connection between writing and drinking beer. And he invites you to discuss his work with home, tomorrow during the Read & Meet at Passa Porta!



On Wednesday September 23 you can meet the Italian author, actor and playwright Davide Enia during the Read & Meet at Passa Porta. A splendid opportunity to discuss his work with the author himself and some fellow readers. More info and booking via our website.  


In a couple of days Shamisa Debroey, currently writer in residence in Pittsburgh, is taking part in the annual Jazz Poetry Concertorganized by the City of Asylum. On September 12, she is sharing the stage with author and former Passa Porta resident Terrance Hayes (in residence in 2011) and composer-pianist Vijay Iyer


The text that the Austrian author Thomas Stangl wrote about his residency in Brussels last March was published by the German newspaper Die Welt this weekend. The text (in German) is available online too. 


The Slovene Writers' Association (SWA) offers residential stays of one to four weeks in Ljubljana for the year 2016. The residency programme is addressed to writers with at least two publications, as well as literary translators with at least two published translations. The following documents are required: a short CV, including a detailed list of your publications or translations, and a short project proposal. The deadline for submitting the applications is 30 October 2015.

For more information, please get in touch with Agata Šimenc, responsible for international cooperation at SWA, via dsp[at] 


Today we welcome the first resident of the new literary season. The Italian playwright, actor and novelist Davide Enia will stay at the writers' flat Place du Vieux Marché aux Grains. During his time in Brussels, he will try to find inspiration for new work and will finish some plays for theatre.

You will have the opportunity to meet the author on these occasions:


The Flemish graphic novelist Shamisa Debroey, who is writer-in-residence in Pittsburgh at the moment, is blogging about her daily life and adventures in the USA. You can discover the blog and some pictures here (in Dutch). 


Today, the Flemish illustrator and strip cartoon artist Shamisa Debroey (1989) is leaving for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she will be staying for a month as artist-in-residence. Her residence is part of the biennial exchange of Passa Porta and City of Asylum/Pittsburgh.

During her time in the US, Shamisa will continue to work on her second graphic novel, in which she tells the story of a family through different points of view. By going to a place that takes her away from her daily habits, she hopes to end up in ‘that little place where you have actually lost yourself'. We wish her an inspiring stay! 


Listen to Lori Jakiela talking about her time in Brussels in this video:

"There is such a history of writers here. (...) It has changed me already."



Last month, we already wrote that some of Nikola Madzirov's poems are featured in a new anthology of contemporary European literature. And there's more good news for this Macedonian poet and essayist, who was with Passa Porta as a writer in residence last year.

Starting May 2016, Madzirov gets the chance to live in Berlin for a year, in the context of the Berliner Künstlerprogramm (DAAD). While there, he will be finishing the manuscript of the novel he started during his residence in Brussels.


Evie's War, the new novel of the New-Zealand author Anna Mackenzie, will be published on July 23th. Anna Mackenzie was one of Passa Porta's writers in residence in November 2013. During her stay in Belgium, she worked on the manuscript of this book, which tells the story of three inhabitants of New-Zealand that served in the army in Belgium during World War I.


Last night, the European Union Prize for Literature was awarded at Concert Noble in Brussels. The EUPL is an annual prize, awarded to authors from different European countries, that tries to encourage the transnational circulation of cultural and artistic work. Each year, Passa Porta offers a residency of one month to one of the EUPL winners.

This year, the prize was awarded to twelve authors, including  Carolina Schutti (Austria), Ida Hegazi Høyer (Norway), David Machado (Portugal) en Lorenzo Amurri (Italy). More information on the winners of the prize can be found on the EUPL website.


At the beginning of the summer, Passa Porta is welcoming the last writer-in-residence of the season. The American author Lori Jakiela will be staying in the writer's flat at the Place du Vieux Marché aux Grains until the end of July. She has published a collection of poetry and three memoires, of which Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe (2015) is the most recent. Her residency in Brussels is part of a collaboration with City Of Asylum/Pittsburgh.


In the short clips below, Peter Orner and Ognjen Spahić share their experience of being in Brussels.

"My whole life, I get distracted and write stories about things I see."
(Peter Orner)

"The paper is empty in the same way at any place."
(Ognjen Spahić)  


On Saturday the 13th of June, you can meet our Montenegrin writer in residence Ognjen Spahić during a literary breakfast at library De Groene Waterman in Antwerp. The Flemish author Sven Peeters will be hosting the conversation (in English). Follow this link for more information and to reserve your seat.


A bit more than a year ago, in February 2014, the Macedonian poet and essayist Nikola Madzirov was Passa Porta's writer in residence. A couple of his poems are now included in a new anthology of contemporary European literature, Luftsprünge. Eine literarische Reise durch Europa (DTV Publishing House). This anthology, which also features texts by Orhan Pamuk and Michel Houellebecs, was published last month.


After a stay of four weeks, Nicole Mary Kelby and Samar Yazbek have returned to their home countries, and Passa Porta welcomes two new residents: Peter Orner from America, and Ognjen Spahić from Montenegro.

Peter Orner is mostly known for his short stories. During his residence in Brussels, he will be working on the manuscript of a new non-fiction book about Namibia. He is staying at the writer's flat in Saint-Gilles.

Ognjen Spahić was chosen out of the laureates of the Europan Union Prize for Literature 2014 for a residence of one month. Like Peter Orner, he is best known for his short stories, although he will be working on the manuscript of a voluminous new novel.             


During her stay in Brussels, the American writer-in-residence Nicole Mary Kelby is searching for traces of her Belgian mother, who fled the country during the World War. Brussel Nieuws made a beautiful video portrait of her stay in our capital. You can watch the video on their website.


In the short clips below, Nicole Mary Kelby and Samar Yazbek share their experience of being in Brussels.

"The light in Belgium stuns me."
(Nicole Mary Kelby)

"I hope we can do something similar in Syria, like Passa Porta does in Brussels."
(Samar Yazbek) 


The Guatemalan writer Eduardo Halfon and the Hungarian poet András Petőcz are Passa Porta's writers in residence during March. In the short clips below, they briefly talk about their time in Brussels (in English).

You can also meet Eduardo Halfon during the fifth Passa Porta Festival, on Sunday 29 March. More info on this event via this link.

Eduardo Halfon

András Petőcz


Each year, the city of Graz awards the "Writer of the City of Graz" scholarship. This scholarship includes the provision of an apartment for a stay of at least eight months, and a monthly allowance. The Kulturvermittlung Steiermark takes care of the necessary logistical backing during the residence. Writers who are interested in this programme can apply until March 31. More information in this document.


Last month, the Dutch writer Joost de Vries stayed at the apartment near the Porte de Hal. During his residence, announced his being nominated for the short list of the Belgian literary prize the Gouden Boekenuil.

In the last week of his residence, the Brussels weekly newspaper Brussel Deze Week talked with De Vries about his stay in Brussels and about his authorship. You can read the interview, in Dutch, in this week's paper or online via this link.

On Sunday, De Vries was invited by Friedl' Lesage for a two hour talk in the radio show Touché. You can listen to the interview, also in Dutch, via this link


A lot of changes at the beginning of this month. The Québécois writer David Clerson and the Dutch writer Joost de Vries reached the end of their stay in Brussels. Today, we welcome the Guatemalan writer Eduardo Halfon and the Hungarian poet András Petőcz. Both authors reside in Brussels for a month.

At the Lijsternest, we welcome a new resident as well. The Flemish author Luuk Gruwez will stay there for the coming two weeks. The return to his roots will bring him inspiration for a new project. Gruwez is the last resident of spring 2015. In April, the former home of Stijn Streuvels reopens for public visit. 


During the month of January, the lebanese writer Iman Humaydan stayed in the writer's flat near the Porte de Hal. During her residency, she wrote a text about the attacks near the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo. Last week, the article appeared in the Lebanese paper Assafir. You can now read it online as well (in Arabic).


The Dutch writer Joost de Vries, who is staying at the writers' flat near the Porte de Hal in February, talks about the novel he's working on here in Brussels, and about why he loves writing away from home (in Dutch).


Passa Porta Tip: Belonging, Memory & Identity
On Wednesday 25th February, British author Patrick McGuinness will read from his latest work Other People's Countries (Jonathan Cape, 2014). McGuinness worked on this novel during his Passa Porta residency in 2013, and is now invited to present it to the public during a literary salon at Full Circle, with, among others, Peter Vermeersch and Lieve Joris. More info on their website


The coming two weeks, the Flemish authors Koen Peeters and Bart Janssen are alternately staying at Het Lijsternest. The authors engage in a conversation about their experiences with Streuvels' work and their stay at his former house. 

They also focus on their own project. Koen Peeters mainly delves into the life and work of Stijn Streuvels. He is convinced that the absent presence of Streuvels will be a source of inspiration for his new book. Bart Janssen continues the visual dialogue with Ward Dijck. He starts out from Stijn Streuvels' special language idiom. His ‘unusual', unruly words form the perfect inspiration for new images and verses. 


Just less than a year ago, the American author Russell Working spent a month in Flanders as a Passa Porta resident. During his stay, he worked on an essay collection about his experience as a special correspondent in Russia for The New York Times. The American literary magazine TriQuarterly published a new piece from this collection on their website. Discover the text here.


Last month, the Lebanese writer Iman Humaydan stayed at the writer's apartment near the Porte de Hal. Journalist Barbara De Munnynck interviewed her during her residence. The complete interview (in Dutch), about writing on the road and Iman Humaydan's inspiration, is available on this website.

Photo © Barbara De Munnynck


After a residency of a month in the writers flat near the Porte de Hal, the Lebanese writer Iman Humaydan headed back home. In the video below she shares her impressions about her stay in Brussels.

Today, we welcome the Dutch writer Joost de Vries. Last year, his novel De Republiek (Prometheus, 2013) was awarded the Gouden Boekenuil. On February 12, he will take part in a public evening at Passa Porta about this work and about his writing in general. 



In 2015, Passa Porta's residency project continues to host writers for a residence in Belgium. This week, the Canadian writer David Clerson and the Lebanese writer-journalist Iman Humaydan arrived in Brussels for a residency of two and one month respectively.

On Monday the 5th, the Flemish author Frank Adam, who reinvented the genre of the fable for adults, arrived at the Lijsternest, where he will reside for two weeks. This week, he wrote two texts (in Dutch) about the horrible events which took place at Charlie Hebdo in Paris. 


The Dutch writer Vonne van der Meer talks about writing and giving lectures in Brussels (in Dutch):


Last Friday we waved the Dutch writer Vonne van der Meer goodbye. During her two-month stay at the Passa Porta writers flat, she gave several workshops at the Rits, and talked with her readers about her work during a close reading.

Today, Passa Porta welcomes the German writer Marica Bodrožić. During her residency, she will be giving lectures at the universities of Antwerp and Brussels, among others.  


At the end of last month, journalist Jan Gheysen visited Het Lijsternest. You can read his impressions on his personal blog (in Dutch). In December, the crew of CANVAS, the Dutch public broadcasting, will be there to make a coverage for their programme Hoera Cultuur!. Anne Provoost is looking forward to it! 


© Peter Malaise

After two weeks of residence, Anne Provoost already feels at home at Lijsternest. She describes how special it is for her to write in the former home of Stijn Streuvels (in Dutch) in this movie.



This week, Passa Porta celebrated ten years of residence. In those 10 years, almost 200 international writers found not only time and peace, but also inspiration, experiment and new ideas.

On Monday, the Passa Porta team and the press gathered at Villa Hellebosch to reflect on the past and to look at the future.


Wednesday evening, three writers in residence, Kiran Desai, Chantal Neveu and Vonne van der Meer, talked about how the place where they write influences their work.


Starting this fall, Passa Porta is extending the residency possibilities for both Belgian and foreign writers. After a long cooperation with Villa Hellebosch, the focus in the future will be on residences in Brussels. Het Lijsternest in Ingooigem and the Torenpaviljoen from the Royal Academy for Dutch Literature and Linguistics in Ghent open their doors. In Brussels, Passa Porta proposes a second apartment and a work space in its own house.


Flemish authors who wish to work abroad will have two new possible locations to take up a residence. Berlin and Rome are those two new international locations. 




Last Monday, the first writer in residence arrived at Lijsternest: none other than Anne Provoost will be staying there until mid December. During her stay, she will focus on a new book in which she will try to find out how a nine year old girl must have felt about living far away from home during war.

Anne Provoost is the first author staying at this new location, in the rural Ingooigem, for which Passa Porta collaborates with the province of West Flanders.



This week, the American author Kiran Desai is spending the last week of her residency at Villa Hellebosch in Vollezele. Last saturday, MO* magazine talked to her about loneliness, about what it means to be an author and a woman, about magic realism and about the relation between literature and politics. You can find the complete interview (in Dutch) here.

Tomorrow, Wednesday the 22th, she participates to writing away from home, an evening with two other writers in residence, Vonne van der Meer and Chantal Neveu. The three authors will give readings and will talk about how the place where they write affects their work. Reservations for the evening can be made here



The Brasilian author Bernardo Carvalho talks about the benefits of his writer's residence in Brussels (in French):



The application round for the AKADEMIE SCHLOSS SOLITUDE residency programm in Stuttgart (during the period of 2015-2017) has started. Applying is possible on the application website.



Italian journalist and author Angelo Mastrandrea is staying in Brussels to research the commmunity of La Poudrière:



Fouad Laroui unveils part of the plot of his novel, which he is writing during his stay in Brussels.



Tuesday the 25th of March, Russell Working gave a lecture for journalism students at the University of Brussels (VUB) about his experiences as a foreign correspondent. Afterwards, the students got the chance to interview him. 




On the 20th of March, Juan Gabriel Vásquez gave a lecture about ‘The Tragical Spirit of the Novel’ at the University of Antwerp. His discourse was inspiring and the audience really enthusiastic. Afterwards, Vásquez signed his books and stayed for a talk with the audience.






Ivo Victoria, who enjoyed a work residency in Pittsburgh in 2013, discusses how becoming a writer has made him a reader, how music is his biggest stylistic influence, and how he plays the "game between fact and fiction." You can watch the video here.



Patrick McGuinness’ most recent novel Other People’s Countries was published this month by Jonathan Cape. The novel, which he dedicated to his children, tells the story of his childhood in Bouillon, Belgium. He worked on the book during his Passa Porta residency in 2013.



We are very happy to announce you that we will welcome Bernardo Carvalho, Vonne van der Meer, Kiran Desai and Marica Bodrožić as our writers in residence this fall.



Juan Gabriel Vásquez, our present writer in residence, met his readers to talk about his novel The sound of things falling. For this fourth Read & Meet in the Passa Porta bookshop, a lot of interested  literature lovers turned up. They discussed many issues, like the plotline of the novel, the characters, the style of writing, the biographical elements in the book and the background of the Colombian war on drugs.


Vásquez also participates in the first Passa Porta Seminar The Time of the Author, where seven leading authors from different countries discuss the relationship between the literary imagination and current affairs. The 12th of March at Flagey, the authors present the results of the seminar to the public along with readings from their work.

On the 20th of March, Juan Gabriel Vásquez lectures about ‘The tragical spirit of the novel’ at the university of Antwerp. For this occasion, he writes a new text.



The 8th of February, our poet in residence Nikola Madzirov attended a poetry breakfast in the bookshop De Groene Waterman in Antwerp, where he read from his own work.

During his stay in Brussels, Madzirov had the opportunity to visit the Poetry Centre in Ghent and enjoyed dinner in Antwerp with some Flemish poets.




The Macedonian poet Nikola Madzirov about not destroying silence and being present yet invisible during his writer's residence in Brussels.



The 28th of January, writer in residence Hyam Yared talked with journalist Hadja Lahbib (RTBF) about living and working in the Middle East, amidst the permanent threat of war. The evening drew a large audience and proved to be very inspiring. During her stay in Brussels, Yared also met the Belgian writer Caroline Lamarche.



The Lebanese author Hyam Yared talks about the benefits of her writer's residence in Brussels (French spoken).



Alex Danchev, our writer in residence in Brussels, about the work, life and friends of René Magritte.



In Cairo, Khaled Khalifa received the Nagieb Mahfouz award for his novel La sakakin fi matabikh hadhihi al-madina (No Knives in the Kitchens of this City). The award includes that the novel will now be translated into English. The Syrian novelist is an opponent of the Assad regime and some of his works have been banned in his own country. In march 2013, Khalifa stayed in our writer’s flat in Brussels and participated in the Passa Porta Festival. Click here for more information.


Manu Joseph (IN) is very happy to have the time here in Brussels to reflect about his new novel. Unfortunately, he already left us, but it sounds like he wouldn't refuse a second residency at Passa Porta in the future...



On the 28th of November, Manu Joseph met his readers to discuss his novel Serious Man. A nice and interesting evening at the Passa Porta Bookshop.



Manu Joseph in Utrecht, the Netherlands, during a literary evening organized by Het Literatuurhuis on the 25th of November.



On the 20th of November, Bozar organised an evening devoted to contemporary literature from India, in the context of Europalia. Manu Joseph and two other writers talked about their work and read excerpts.



During her stay in Villa Hellebosch Anna Mackenzie researches World War I and her grandfather's involvement in the Great War...



The Spanish author Use Lahoz is really happy about his Passa Porta writers' residence in Vollezele (in French). 



Aleš Šteger, current writer in residence at Passa Porta, on chocolate, beer, trees, Jan Fabre and beauty.



Aifric Campbell (EIR), Passa Porta's current writer in residence, is working on her fourth novel in Brussels.



Austrian author Anna Kim will stay in our writer's flat in Brussels until the end of July. She is working from the morning till the evening on a new novel.



Today, Román Antopolsky left Brussels, leaving behind the following words:


I came only to write, but now I'm leaving this city with new ideas that are becoming projects even as I type these lines. With the first part of the novel almost finished, a series of poems after trips to Antwerp and Bruges gaining shape, and drawings that seem to be forming part of something broader, Brussels proved to be the trigger of unexpected events.



Passa Porta's writer in residence Román Antopolsky recently gave a poetry workshop at the Klein Kasteeltje reception centre in Brussels. He taught asylum seekers young and old(er) of various nationalities.



Román Antopolsky, Passa Porta's current writer-in-residence, arrived in Brussels at the end of May. He is writing a novel set in a 5th-century Syrian monastery.



During her stay in Villa Hellebosch, French author Céline Curiol worked on an essay on odours.



Canadian author Ibi Kaslik stayed four weeks in Villa Hellebosch to work on Radical Road, a novel dealing with the difficult relationship between motherhood and self-fulfilment in North America's allegedly liberal society.



Watch the recording of our evening with Patrick French on India.



Flemish author and illustrator Gerda Dendooven comments on her stay in Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland, through drawings.



Patrick McGuinness, Passa Porta’s writer-in-residence in February 2013, explains how he is inspired by Belgian railway stations. “You begin to see they have a kind of sour, dark, ordinary poetry but I responded to that very well. There are spectacular stations like Antwerp and Liège which are like real cathedrals of movement.”




The Irish author Gerard Donovan is Passa Porta's current writer-in-residence. A participant to the recent Passa Porta Festival (Long Night of the Short Story and Parcours), he is back in Brussels for a four-week stay, during which he will be working on a new novel.



Khaled Khalifa's In Praise of Hatred, banned in Syria, has made the longlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2013. At the moment, Khalifa is staying in Brussels as Passa Porta's writer in residence.

Trieste of Croatian author Daša Drndić, who stayed in our writer's flat past January, is also figuring on the longlist.



The Syrian author Khaled Khalifa arrived in Brussels today. Khalifa will stay with us in residence for five weeks to work on a new novel set during the fall of the Ottoman empire.
Khaled Khalifa is also an important guest at the Passa Porta Festival this coming March.



Patrick McGuinness on his stay in Brussels.



Daša Drndić on her residency @ Passa Porta, Brussels, January 2013



Alejandro Zambra talks about Brussels (English translation below):

 I find the city very readable. At the same time, when you take a closer look, [Brussels] seems to have distinct layers, which in turn render it more difficult to read. It has a kind of hermetic quality, which is to do with its beauty. And also with the multilingualism.

Here, words occupy a space that is hard to pinpoint: are they privileged or, vice-versa, are they very at risk, because everything is in two languages? Like on the plaques with the street names on every corner: it tells me something that I'm interested in codifying, but each time I understand less and less about this city.

In other words: the first experience [of Brussels] is much more conventional than the last one; and the last one is more disturbing.

I have written quite a lot [during my residence], well, three or four short stories, which is much, for a book that will be called ... Bruselas.



Watch here the interview with Alejandro Zambra in Passa Porta, 5 December 2012. Conversation in Spanish by Ilse Logie en Bieke Willem (Univerity of Ghent).



American author Annie Proulx in conversation with publisher Nele Hendrickx (De Geus), at Passa Porta International House of Literature Passa Porta, Brussels. December 2012.

Watch the entire evening:



Translators' House Wales has opened a call for applications for foreign writers and translators for their residency program in Ty Newydd: National Writers' Centre for Wales in January 2013.



The Austrian author Robert Menasse spent some weeks in Passa Porta's writer's residence in 2010. The results of his stay are now published in German by Paul Zsolnay Verlag under the title Der Europaïsche Landbote. Die Wut der Bürger und der Friede Europas. 



Flemish author Bart Moeyaert currently is writer in residence at the Writers Omi International Writers Residency in Ledig House, Ghent (NY) until mid-October. He will use his residency to work on his new book. Follow his New York sketches and notes via Tumblr.



We do not like to say goodbye to Inga Zolude, but it is nice to hear that her stay in Brussels gave her the inspiration and peace she needed to finish her fourth novel. Looking forward to the result!



Meet Inga Zolude, writer-in-residence in Passa Porta's writer's flat till 24 September 2012. She is working on a new novel, focusing on women's problems through centuries and across cultures.



Our previous writer in residence, the Macedonian author Goce Smilevski (Freud's Sister, novel) in conversation with Anna Luyten and Stijn Vanheule. Passa Porta, 6 June 2012.


now in residence

Ece Temelkuran (TUR)
23.11 > 21.12
@ passa porta 


Geert Six (BE)
16.11 > 14.12
@ het lijsternest 


Andy Fierens (BE)
23.10 > 30.11
@ Amsterdam