Zlatko Krasni was born in Sarajevo in 1951. After receiving his schooling in Montreux, Switzerland, Hamm, West Germany and in the Yugoslav city of Herceg Novi, he went on to study German language and literature in Addis Ababa, Belgrade and Berlin. In 1977 he completed his doctorate on the subject of Rilke’s poetry in the Serbo-Croatian-speaking world. This influence is evident in Krasni’s own poetry, especially in his artful enjambments and in his predeliction for the sonnet form to which the volume »Košuta u duši« (1997; t: Doe in the soul) bears witness. Krasni also wrote in unrhymed free verse, making use of stylistic devices found in Surrealism. In many of his twelve collections of poems, through friendly melancholy and quiet humour, he sketched images of transition and transience, in which he evoked man’s vulnerability. The Yugoslav Wars and the NATO bombing, which Krasni experienced in his home country, are motifs that prevail in his most recent poems. »And over there, in your country // are Slavs again slaughtering each other?«, a poet colleague wistfully asks over his beer in the three-part cycle »Am Ring« – while in the cultural history museum »in a hall // prepared heads are displayed // tourists may pay to look at them // from the Indians // or other peoples // who accidentally stepped // in the way of history«.
Krasni was an editor of various Yugoslav and Serbian as well as international literary magazines, including »Srpski narod«, »Zbilja«, »Knjizevnost – Lettre Internationale«, »Pannonia« (Vienna) and »Cross-Country-Relations« (Belgrade, New York). He shaped the international relations of the Serbian Writers’ Association and was influential as a promoter of literature in German. He edited and published anthologies of contemporary German short stories and poetry and of Austrian post-war poetry. He translated over sixty books by German-speaking writers into Serbian, including works by Goethe and C.G. Jung, Siegfred Lenz, Jürgen Becker, Peter Handke, Reiner Kunze, Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, Peter Sloterdijk, Thomas Bernhard, Christoph Ransmayer and Patrick Süßkind. Krasni received the Ljubisa Jocic Prize for his translation of Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s poetry. His two collections of essays, »O melanholiji evropskog intelektualca« (1997; t: The melancholy of a European intellectual) and »U vrtu doktora Kitahare« (2005; Ü: The garden of doctor Kitahara) were also distinguished with awards.
Krasni’s poems – awarded, among other prizes, the Branko Copic Prize and the Milan Rakic Prize – have been translated into many languages and included in several anthologies. Co-founder of the Association for Serbian-German Friendship and Cooperation, Krasni lived in Belgrade. He died in November 2008.
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