was born in 1946 in Fürth. As the son of a diplomat, he visited schools in Tunisia, Congo, and Cameroon. From 1964 to 1971, Sartorius studied law in Munich, London, Strasbourg, and Paris. After completing his doctorate of law in 1973, he worked in diplomatic services until 1986, including as a cultural referent in New York, a press aide in Ankara, and ultimately as an envoy in Nicosia (Cyprus). In the following years, he managed the artist program of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), was secretary general at the Goethe-Institute in Munich, and served as director of the Berliner Festspiele from 2001 to 2011.
Sartorius has made literary appearances as a poet, editor and translator. He has translated poems by John Ashbery, Wallace Stevens, Louis Dudek, e. e. cummings, and Robert Gray from English into German. He also published the complete works of Malcom Lowry and William Carlos Williams. Within »Atlas der neuen Poesie« (1995; tr: Atlas of New Poetry), arguably the most comprehensive poetry endeavor of our time, Sartorius locates poems from 36 countries and in 22 languages, printing both the translations and the originals. »Niemals eine Atempause« (tr: Never a Pause for Breath), a guide to political poetry in the 20th century, followed in 2014. In addition to volumes of poetry including »Keiner gefriert anders« (1996; tr: No One Freezes Differently), »Hôtel des Étrangers« (2008; tr: Foreigners’ Hotel), and »Für nichts und wieder alles« (2016; tr: For Nothing and Everything Again), Sartorius has also published poetic travel books. The »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung« described »Die Prinzeninseln« (2009) as »a very personal mini-epic full of poetry and subtle political observations, with autobiographical episodes that, like a travel guide, not only take the readers to the Princes’ Islands, but also presents them with the remnants of a Turkish way of life that far too few of us know still exists.« In »Mein Zypern« (2013; tr: My Cyprus), too, Sartorius draws from his experiences as a local diplomat, repeatedly incorporating information about the history and culture of the island into the text and concluding the book with an appendix of poems.
Together with Norbert Miller, Sartorius publishes the journal »Sprache im technischen Zeitalter«. He is a member of the German Academy for Language and Literature and of the jury for the annually awarded Friedrich Gundolf Prize. After receiving a scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation in 1992 and the Paul Scheerbart Prize in 1999, among other honors, Sartorius was named Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2011. He lives in Berlin and Syracuse.