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Knuts Skujenieks | Latvia

(b. in 1936 in Riga) – poet, translator, literary critic, studied Latvian philology at the University of Latvia and in 1961 continued his studies at Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow. As a young poet in 1963, Skujenieks was arrested and charged with spreading anti-Soviet propaganda, for which he was sentenced for seven years in a labour camp in Mordovia. While imprisoned, he continued to write poems that even after his release were banned from publication. His first book was released in 1978 when Skujenieks was 42.  Despite repressions, internal balance became a characteristic sign of his work and affected his poetic process. The poems that he wrote during his labour camp days were published in 2005 in “Edinburgh Review”. Upon release, he returned to Latvia and focused on translating poetry, became a polyglot and one of the most valued experts on various poetry traditions. He translates from Ukrainian, Slovenian, Spanish, Serbian, Macedonian, Greek, Polish, Lithuania, Finnish, Swedish, Danish as well as Czech and many other languages. The collections of translated poets includes such names as Federico García Lorca, Gabriela Mistral, Janis Ricos, Tomas Tranströmer, Inger Christensen. He also translates folk songs from many European countries. In 2001 Skujenieks’ published the book  Dziesma, ej vieglipa manu sirdi featuring a selection of 20th century poems in 72 European langiages, both original and translated versions. Since 2003 his poetic oeuvre was published as part of collected work. Skujenieks is a winner of many literary awards  – Latvian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Swedish and Spanish. For many years, he served as the chairman of the Latvian PEN Club. He has received The Order of Merit, 2nd class (2008), the  Latvian Medal of Honour. In 2008, he received the Baltic Assembly Prize for Literature for his 8-volume collected works. 

a stylised black and white portrait of the writer