Born the son of a miner in 1933, Reiner Kunze grew up in Saxony, which later formed part of the German Democratic Republic.
Becoming disenchanted with the regime early on, he broke off an academic career in journalism and worked as a factory mechanic before becoming a full-time writer. In 1968 he resigned his SED party membership following the Warsaw Pact’s invasion of Czechoslovakia to suppress the Prague Spring. This resulted in a publication ban and close Stasi surveillance. After the regime-critical Die wunderbaren Jahre (The wonderful years) appeared in West Germany, he was ultimately pressurized into “voluntarily” leaving the GDR in 1977.
Since then, Kunze has published many volumes of poetry, as well as prose, essays, travel writing, and children’s stories, winning numerous awards, including the prestigious Georg Büchner Prize. His work has been translated into many languages, and he himself is a translator of Czech poetry. An English anthology of his poems up to the 1990s entitled Rich Catch in the Empty Creel with translations by Richard Dove was published in 2012. (2020)