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Tomas Venclova was born in 1937 in Klaipėda, Lithuania. He graduated from Vilnius University, travelled in the Eastern Bloc and became friends with poets Anna Akhmatova and Boris Pasternak, as well as Natalya Gorbanevskaya and Joseph Brodsky. Venclova took part in the Lithuanian and Soviet dissident movements and was one of the five founding members of the Lithuanian Helsinki Group. His activities led to a ban on publishing, exile and the stripping of his Soviet citizenship in 1977. Since 1985 Venclova has taught Slavic languages and literature at Yale University. He has been the recipient of numerous prizes including the Vilenica 1990 International Literary Prize, the Lithuanian National Prize in 2000, the 2002 Prize of Two Nations, which he received jointly with Czeslaw Milosz, the 2005 Jotvingiai Prize, and the New Culture of New Europe Prize, 2005. He has published over twenty books including volumes of poetry, literary criticism, political commentary, literary biography, translation and books on Vilnius. His work has been translated into many languages including by Czesław Miłosz into Polish, and by Joseph Brodsky into Russian. He has two poetry books in English: Winter Dialogue (Northwestern University Press, 1997) and The Junction: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2008). Venclova is active in the contemporary cultural life of Lithuania, and is one of its most well-respected figures.

reflections on belonging

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Poem from the poetry collection "View from the Alley"

 

 

translated by Rimas Užgiris
video by Jevgenij Tichonov
organized by Saulius Vasiliauskas

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