The distinction, delivered in May, awards his research on Portuguese literature and Fernando Pessoa’s universe.
The president of the jury, Francisco Pinto Balsemão, explained that Zenith became "a Portuguese citizen, by dedication and praise to a work, of Fernando Pessoa, a literature, ours, and a language, the Portuguese".
Richard Zenith lives in Lisbon since 1987, after having spent some years in countries like Colombia, Brazil and France. According to the website of the Institute for Studies on Modernism, research unit of FCSH/NOVA, where he is a researcher, also has worked as a freelance writer, translator and critic.
He was responsible for the publication of some unreleased works of Fernando Pessoa, achieved through research of the spoils of the poet. The editions of ‘A Educação do Estóico’ and ‘O Livro do Desassosego’ are two of the specimens of this collection work, but also were published letters, prose and English poetry.
Zenith is also an ambassador of Portuguese literature in the world, being responsible for the translation of the work of authors such as Luís Vaz de Camões, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, José Luís Peixoto e António Lobo Antunes.
Prémio Pessoa worth 60.000 euros and was created by the weekly newspaper Expresso. It is annually awarded to a personality who has been "a protagonist particularly relevant by his innovative intervention in artistic, literary or scientific life of the country".