20 March 2017
Predrag Matvejević died in Zagreb on February 2, 2017. He was one of the most important and most translated writers of the Balkans. A cosmopolitan, a polyglot and a tireless activist, he worked endlessly for human rights, for peace and for dialogue among people.
Predrag was a Vice President of PEN International. He was also a member of PEN Croatia and one of the co-founders as well as an Honorary Member of PEN Trieste.
For his work as a writer he received numerous awards in Italy and abroad.
The French government awarded him the Legion of Honour and the President of the Italian Republic bestowed on him the Italian citizenship as well as awarding him the title of Commander of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity.
A commemoration for Predrag was held in Trieste on March 1, 2017 in the Main Hall of the School of Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators, where a group of close associates and friends, writers, journalists and intellectuals convened in representation of various cultural associations. His wife, Mrs. Mira Matvejević, attended the meeting.
Many people spoke, among them members of PEN Croatia, PEN Slovenia and PEN Trieste. Jennifer Clement, President of PEN International, sent a message which was read by Antonio Della Rocca, Member of the International Board. A memory of Predrag was also sent by Boris A. Novak, Vice President of PEN International.
The commemoration ended with a poem dedicated by Della Rocca to his friend Predrag.
Where did you come from
where have you been
where are you now
precious son of the lineage of Matvej
with your face of an ancestral Slave
with your windswept hair
with you liquid eyes
where disappointment and gaiety
did blend looking at humanity and things
with disenchanted optimism
asking the world and people
for understanding and mutual respect
keeping firm in your judgment
without violence nor condemnations
in full freedom of sentiments and expression.
In your heart Russia and Ukraine mixed up
with your native Mostar
with your Yugoslavia
with Croatia and Serbia that welcomed you
with France and Italy
always looking at a Mediterranean
without walls nor barbed wire
citizen of the world
friend of Trieste.