Kunert was born in Berlin. After attending a Volksschule, it was not possible for Kunert—due to the National Socialist race laws—to continue his high school education (his mother was Jewish). After World War II ended, Kunert studied in East Berlin's Academy of Applied Arts from 1946–49, but abandoned his studies.
He joined the main political party of East Germany, the Socialist Unity Party (SED) in 1948. In 1976, he signed a petition against the deprivation of the citizenship of his fellow writer, Wolf Biermann, and subsequently lost his SED membership. Kunert was able to leave the GDR in 1979 with a visa. He, his wife Marianne, and their granddaughter, Judith, established themselves near Itzehoe in northern Germany, where he still lives today.
Kunert is considered to be one of the most versatile and most important contemporary German writers. Besides lyric poetry, he also has written short stories, essays, autobiographical works, aphorisms, satires, fairy tales, science fiction, radio plays, speeches, travel writing, film scripts, a novel, and a drama. Kunert is also a painter, and a graphic artist. He has published in numerous literary magazines, such as Muschelhaufen.
In his works, he takes a critical attitude towards Nazism, and the belief in progress. Kunert is a primary opponent of the new German spelling reform, and serves as a member in the Association for German Orthography and Language Care. He is also active in the P.E.N. Club of German language authors.
- "Günter Kunert [Germany]". International Literature Festival Berlin. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
- "Degree Conferred in Germany". Dickinson College. Archived from the original on 26 November 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
- "Günter Kunert". Prague Writers' Festival. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
- Muschelhaufen. No. 31/32-47/48. Viersen 1994-2007. ISSN 0085-3593