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Photo: Annette Hornischer

Writer and Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Yale University

Axel Springer Fellow - Class of Spring 2015

Renowned poet, literary scholar, and Soviet-era dissident Tomas Venclova taught poetry and modern Lithuanian, Russian, and Polish literature at Yale University, where he received his PhD and joined the faculty in 1985. His widely translated poetry is recognized as some of the most influential Lithuanian writing of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.


Born in 1937, in Klaipeda, Lithuania, Venclova was one of the five founding members of the Lithuanian Helsinki Group. He studied semiotics and Russian literature at the Estonian Tartu Ülikool (1966-1971) and philology at the Vilniaus Universitetas, and has written abundantly on the Holocaust in Lithuania, which was initially published in the underground press. These writings were the first to question patriotic myths surrounding the Nazi occupation and Lithuanian collaboration. Venclova’s publications were banned; he was forced into exile and then stripped of his Soviet citizenship, in 1977. He went on to publish extensively on modern Lithuanian history, Polish-Lithuanian conflicts, and the anti-Soviet movement, as well as on the Renaissance and Counter-Reformation. His recent publications include The Junction: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2009); Vilnius: A Personal History (Sheephill, 2009); Niezniszczalny rytm: Eseje o literaturze (Indestructible Rhythm: Essays on Literature) (Zeszyty Literackie-Pogranicze, 2003); Stat’i o Brodskom (Essays on Brodsky) (Baltrus-Novoe izdatel’stvo, 2005); Powroty do Litwy (Returns to Lithuania) with Czesław Miłosz (Zeszyty Literackie, 2011); and Magnetic North: Conversations with Tomas Venclova (Suhrkamp).


Venclova holds numerous honorary doctorates and other international honors for his work in the humanities and human rights.

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