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In memoriam: Predrag Matvejević

Monday 20 March 2017 - 5:42pm

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.

For Predrag

Where did you come from

where have you been

where are you now

Predrag Matvejević

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.