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Writing from the Edge: Estonian Literature

October 2015

October-2015-Writing-from-the-Edge-Estonian-Literature-Aldis-Toome-Matsiranna-Loss-2009
Aldis Toome, Matsiranna Loss, 2009. "The Poll Diaries," Dir. Chris Kraus, 2010., Matsiranna, Estonia.

Image: Aldis Toome, Matsiranna Loss, 2009. “The Poll Diaries,” Dir. Chris Kraus, 2010., Matsiranna, Estonia.


This month we present new prose and poetry from Estonia. Influenced by its many colonizers and drawing on a rich oral tradition, Estonia’s literary sensibility reflects both an awareness of the natural world and a keen sense of what might lie beyond its borders. The writers here deploy that dual perspective to singular effect. Eeva Park’s narrator attempts to rescue a dog and her marriage. Mehis Heinsaar observes a summer romance turned icy. In two portraits of intellectual pretension, Mihkel Mutt records the meeting of two literary poseurs, and Maarja Kangro eavesdrops on artists and writers at a bourgeois cultural evening. Russian-language writer Andrei Ivanov contributes an impressionistic portrait of coming of age in Soviet-era Tallinn. Jan Kaus’s prose poetry illuminates both urban and rural landscapes. And in work from other poets, fs recruits for a divine vacancy, Kaur Riismaa praises the quotidian, and Triin Soomets reflects on translating love and loss. We thank our guest editor, Miriam McIlfatrick, and the Estonian Literature Center for its support.

Writing from the Edge: Estonian Literature
By Miriam McIlfatrick
Modern-day literature in Estonia is both aware of and wary of borders.
Jackdaw on a Snowdrift
By Andrei Ivanov
For two weeks I felt like I was wrapped in barbed wire.
Translated from Russian by Matthew Hyde
At the Manor, or Jump into the Fire
By Maarja Kangro
At one castle reception she had bitten into a decorative banana that tasted distinctly of sawdust.
Translated from Estonian by Christopher Moseley
Mice in the Wind
By Mihkel Mutt
A man of letters has to be in contact with life . . .
Translated from Estonian by Christopher Moseley
[I wish there was a god]
By fs
I wish there was the sort of god / who would preserve us from a god / we invent for ourselves
Translated from Estonian by Miriam McIlfatrick
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