He was born on the 31st of March 1959 in the village Cazangic, county Lapusna, Basarabia (Republic of Moldova) in the family of Nicolae (1922-1981) and Sevastita (1924-2009).
He goes to The School of primary and secondary education (now the college Mihai Viteazul) in his native village (1966–1974) and then to the Romanian School of secondary education n.2 in the city of Leova (1974-1976) which he graduates with a golden medal; he becomes winner of the National Contests in History, Romanian Language and Literature, as well as French Language and Literature.
He does his higher education at the State University of Moldova(1976-1979), the Faculty of History and at the State University Mihail Lomonosov(1979-1983) in Moscow, The Faculty of History, Department of Ethnology, which he graduates with excellence, having written a dissertation on the historic and ethnologic value of the work of Nicolae Milescu Spatarul (1636–1708), recommended for publication by the University’s Scientific Council.
In 1980 he makes his poetic debut in the newspaper Tineretul Moldovei (The Youth of Moldova) from Chisinau, and beginning with 1981, when he meets LaurenTiu Fulga, Mircea Ciobanu, Anghel Dumbraveanu and Ion Cocora, he publishes some of his verse in the literary press of Romania (Orizontul, Timisoara, Luceafarul, Bucharest, Cronica and Convorbiri literare, Iasi, Tribuna si Steaua, Cluj-Napoca, Familia, Oradea and others more).
In 1982 the magazine Utunk from Cluj-Napoca publishes his first poems translated in Hungarian.
In 1983 he is excluded from his post-graduate degree at M.Lomonosov University being accused of anti-sovietism. He manages to obtain employment as a scientific collaborator at the Museum of the city of Istra (the former Monastery The New Ierusalim), where he will stay until May 1987. After a silence of five years, his poems start to appear (although slightly modified) in literary publications in Chisinau and he is awarded the Prize for Poetry of the magazine Orizontul (Columna, The Horizon).
In January 1986 he meets Ion Alexandru, makes friends with the writers Grigore Vieru and Liviu Damian, and introduces the manuscript of his volume The pillar of flame (Stalpul de foc). The prestigious Moscow Almanac Pamiatnaie knijnaie data publishes his study of Nicolae Milescu Spatarul; he also participates in the scientific conferences dedicated to the work of Milescu Spatarul, organized by The Academy of Science in Chisinau and the University of Irkutsk.
The year of 1987 marks the beginning of an important series of events that would shape the destiny of Moldova forever after. In 1987 Valeriu Matei is one of the protagonists of the events initiated by The Writers’ Union of Moldova, which trigger the National Movement that gave birth to the 1989 Revolution against the Soviet occupation of the territory. In the same year, the scene of The National Theatre Mihai Eminescu hosts the acting of the drama Prologue (Prologul – stage director – Ion Bordeanu, music – Tudor Chiriac, main role- the great actor Valeriu Cupcea), which received the first prize at the Contest of Drama organized by the Ministry of Culture. Meanwhile, Grigore Vieru releases his article Ennobling Poetry (Innobilarea poeziei), while Valeriu Matei publishes frequently in the newspaper Literature and art (Literatura si arta), The Youth of Moldova (Tineretul Moldovei), Moldova, Orizontul (The Horizon) (Chisinau).
In 1988 the publishing house Artistic Literature (Literatura artistica) from Chisinau releases Valeriu Matei’s volume of poetry The pillar of flame (Stalpul de foc) (with a preface by Gr. Vieru) and the historical novel The wanderings and the sufferings of the sword bearer Niculai from Milesti (Peregrinarile si suferintele spatarului Neculai din Milesti). He becomes a member of The Writers Union of Moldova and of The Theatrical Union; he is among the founder members of the Democratic Movement; a jury governed by the writer Ioan Alexandru awards him the Prize for Poetry of the magazine Transilvania (Sibiu, Romania); in August 1988 he visits Romania for the first time at the invitation of The Writers’ Union of Romania.
On the 25th of September 1988 he marries Claudia Postica, professor of Romanian Language and Literature. During the same year, he meets Henry Deluy, Emmanuel Okkar, Marie Etienne and Olivier Cadiot, whom he invites to Chisinau and whose poems he later translates into Romanian.
In May 1989 he participates in the creation of The Peoples’ Front of Moldova , being a member in the Council and in their Permanent Bureau, as well as their spokesperson.
In August (1989) he writes the final document of the first Great National Meeting About sovereignty and our right to have a future; at the same time the study The work of Nicolae Milescu Spatarul – a source for the study of the historical ethnology of the peoples of Siberia and of the Extreme Orient appears in the Compendium. In the same month his daughter Musata is born.
In 1990 the publishing house Hyperion from Chisinau releases his second volume of poetry entitled Sleep of wolf (Somn de lup). During the same year he is chosen deputy in the Parliament of Chisinau, president of the Parliamentary Commission for the Mass-Media, member in the Presidium of the Parliament and on the 16th of December he is a leader of the second Great National Meeting which proclaims the independence of all Romanians from the territories occupied and annexed by the soviets and their right to reunite with Romania. He also writes The Proclamation (The Final Document) adopted by this meeting and participates, on the behalf of the Republic of Moldova at the Conference OSCE (The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) The Human Dimension in Copenhagen. At the invitation of the Romanian community from Germany, he visits the Universities of Freiburg, Heidelberg and Tubingen, where he meets Eugen Coseriu, Paul Miron and Klaus Heitmann. He then takes part in the negotiations with the leadership of USSR with regard to the so-called ‘new treaty’.
1991 marks the release of the Romanian, Russian, English and French versions of the collection of documents The Ribbentrop - Molotov Pact and its consequences in Basarabia (in collaboration with V.Varatic and I.Siscanu).
In the month of August of the same year, Valeriu Matei is the main author of the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova from the Soviet Union. The prize George Bacovia is conferred on him by the magazine Ateneu (Bacau). He also participates in the Conference of the Francophone Associations of friendship and relations organised in Paris. On his return he takes part in the creation of the French Alliance in Moldova, of which he is a president of honour for 12 years.
In 1992 he is awarded the prizes of the publication Flacara (The Flame, Bucharest) and participates in the war at Dnister (Nistru).
During the period 1993 – 1994 he is a member in the Permanent Bureau of the Intellectuals Congress (later known as the Party of Democratic Forces), the director of the publishing house Hyperion and editor of the weekly Mesagerul (The Messenger).
In 1994 the publishing house Junimea from Iasi releases his volume of poetry The Death of Zenon; he is re-elected as a deputy in the Parliament of Moldova on behalf of the Party of Democratic Forces, the president of which he becomes on the 25th of June 1994.
In 1995 he is awarded the Great prize for contemporary Romanian poetry Nichita Stanescu.
In 1996 he is awarded the prize Mihai Eminescu by The Romanian Academy, as well as the prize for poetry by the International Academy Mihai Eminescu, refuses the decoration The Civic Merit (Meritul civic) conferred on him in the Republic of Moldova and runs for the presidential elections in Moldova.
In 1998 he is re-elected deputy in the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova on the lists of the Party of Democratic Forces, as well as vice-president of the Parliament and president of the Commission of cooperation between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union.
In the year 2000 the medal Mihai Eminescu (Romania) is conferred on him. In 2002 he is awarded the great prize Nichita Stanescu of the city of Ploiesti for Opera Omnia and the trophy Nichita Stanescu .
2003 marks the release of his volumes of poetry The morning of the great city (Dimineata marelui oras), Orpheus and the solitude (Orfeu si singuratatea) and The imaginary Greece (Grecia imaginara).
In 2004 he is awarded the National Decoration The star of Romania in the rank of colonel (Steaua Romaniei in grad de Comandor), as well as the prize for Literature of the Romanian diaspora from Germany.
In 2006, the completion of 1900 years since the end of the Dacian- Roman wars was the occasion for the publication of his volume Sleep of wolf (Somn de lup) by the publishing house Signs (Semne) in Bucharest. In 2007 he is awarded the prize Poesis at the International Festival Poesis organized in Satu Mare.
In 2008 he publishes his volume Ziliada at the publishing house of the Cultural Foundation Poezia in Iasi, for which he is awarded the Prize of the Writers’ Union. In 2009, in the collection ‘Critical editions’ of the publishing house Princeps Edit from Iasi, he releases the anthology The Elegies of the prodigal son (Elegiile fiului risipitor).
Valeriu Matei has published numerous articles of journalism, essays about literature (about Mihai Eminescu, Lucian Blaga, Nichita Stanescu, Arthur Rimbaud, Fr.Nietzsche, Terry de Montbrial, Eugen Simion, Grigore Vieru, Mihai Cimpoi and others) and has translated from French poetry (Arthur Rimbaud, Henry Deluy, Emmanuel Okkar, Marie Etienne, Olivier Cadiot), Russian poetry (Mihail Lermontov, Anna Ahmatova, Osip Mandelstam and others) and Spanish poetry (Federico Garcia Lorca).
Valeriu Matei is present in several anthologies of Romanian poetry, such as:
- ‘Group portret’ (‘Portret de Grup’, publishing house ‘Arc ‘, 1995) ; - ‘Une anthologie de la poésie moldave. L’esprit des péninsules’ (Paris, 1996); - ‘A thousand and one Romanian poems’ (‘O mie si una de poezii romanesti’, Bucharest, pub.h. Du Style, 1997); - ’The Anthology of Romanian love poetry’(’ Antologia poeziei romanesti de dragoste’, pub.h. Ex Ponto, Constanta, 2004); - ’The poetry of Valeriu Matei’ (’Poezia lui Valeriu Matei’, Eugen Simion, 1995) ; - ’DiafanitaTi’ (Alexandru Stefanescu, 1995); - ‘The History of Literature in Basarabia’ (‘Ist. Lit. Basarabia’, M.Cimpoi).
Translations from his poetry appeared in English, German, French, Russian, Turkish, Slovak, Macedonian, Greek, Swedish and Lithuanian.