Klaipeda, Lithuania


Samuel Fischer Guest Professor

Tomas Venclova

Tomas Venclova was born in 1937 in Klaipeda and is considered one of the most important East European poets of the 20th Century. Venclova studied philology in Vilnius and then lived in Moscow and Leningrad. After several years of publication ban he left the USSR in 1977 to take up a guest professorship at the University of Berkeley. During this time, he was deprived of his Soviet citizenship.

His work was mostly written in the American exile. Durs Grünbein, who has translated Venclovas poems into German together with Claudia Sinnig, refers to the poems enthusiastically as „the most anachronistic literature in contemporary European poetry.“ In his work, Venclova reflects the loss of his home as well as natural images of landscape and language itself, that renders his poetry profoundly attractive. Venclova teaches Russian literature at Yale. In 2013, he was awarded the order of merit of the Republic of Poland.