Born in September 11, 1937 in Klaipeda. Tomas Venclova is a Lithuanian poet, essayist, translator and literary scholar. At sixteen he enrolled at the Vilnius University to become the youngest student in its history. Expelled for a year in 1956, he graduated in 1960. He participated in the independent literary life of Lithuania and Russia, as well as in human rights movements. Forced to emigrate in 1977, he settled in the United States. As a literary scholar he has taught at several American universities, among them Yale University and the University of California, Berkeley and Los Angeles. Currently he is Professor of Slavonic Languages and Literatures at Yale University.
Venclova is the author of a number of scholarly books on poetry (among them a decisive monograph of the poet Aleksander Wat), and several books of poems and essays published both in the USA and other countries of the world, most recently in his native Lithuania. His publications include Kalbos zenklas, Vilnius 1972; 98 eilerasciai, Chicago 1977; Winter Dialogue, Evanston 1997; Sankirta, Vilnius 2005; Kitaip (poetry in translation), Vilnius, 2006; The Junction: Selected Poems, Highgreen, 2008; Opisać Wilno (Describing Vilnius), Warsaw, 2008; Vilnius: A Personal History, Riverdale-on-Hudson, 2009.
He served as Chairman of the Association for the Advancements of Baltic Studies in the years 1989-91 and serves on the board of PEN Club in exile. He has been a long-time member of the editorial board and contributor to the Zeszyty Literackie quarterly, the publishers of a volume of his poems Rozmowa w zimie (1989), translated into Polish by Stanisław Barańczak. Other titles available in Polish include Sześć wierszy (Six Poems), published on the occasion of Venclova’s honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of Lublin in 1991, the essay collection Kształty nadziei (Forms of Hope, 1995) and two volumes of essays Eseje. Publicystyka (Essays. Writings 2001) and Niezniszczalny rytm. Eseje o literaturze (Invincible Rhythm. Essays on Literature, 2002) published by the Pogranicze Foundation in Sejny which bestowed on Venclova the honorary title of a Borderlander in 2002. The Foundation also published a Polish-Lithuanian-Russian-English edition of his Wiersze sejneńskie (Sejny Poems) in 2008.
Venclova is the recipient of the Vilenica Prize (1990), the Gedyminas Order (1999), the Lithuanian State Prize (2001), the Poland and Lithuania Prize (together with Czesław Miłosz) awarded by the parliaments of the two countries, the St Christopher Prize (Vilnius 2003), the Nowa Kultura for the New Europe Prize (Krynica 2005) and the Baltic Star (St Petersburg 2008). He holds honorary doctorates from the Maria Skłodowska-Curie University in Lublin, the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń and the University of Göttingen. He lives in Vilnius.