Poetry guests: Arvis Viguls, Bernhard Widder, Kristjan Haljak, Veronika Kivisilla, Vera Pavlova

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Venue: Wabadus (see on map)
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Arvis Viguls

Arvis Viguls (1987) is a Latvian poet and translator. His 2009 debut, the collection of poems Istaba won the prize of the Latvian Writers’ Union, among other awards. His second collection 5:00 (2012) was also received warmly. As a translator, Viguls has an impressive resume, translating from English, Spanish, Russian and Serbo-Croatian. Writers translated by him include Joseph Brodsky, Federico Garcia Lorca, Walt Whitman, William Butler Yeats and many others. 

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Vera Pavlova

Vera Pavlova (1963) is a Russian poet and it has been said that 21st century Russian poetry begins with her. Vladimir Sorokin has said Pavlova is unlike anyone else and since she has already become part of the story of Russian poetry, she no longer belongs to herself. Pavlova studied the history of music, researched the music of Shostakovich, sang in a church choir and has written five opera librettos. She published her first book of poems Небесное животное in 1997. Her fourth collection of poems Четвертый сон received several accolades, including the Apollon Grigoriev Prize. Pavlova writes in a candid, nuanced way about love, childhood and motherhood – she has said that she wrote her first poem as a message that she sent home from the maternity ward after giving birth to her first daughter, to somehow put her intense happiness into words. Pavlova’s style is often rich in images and strongly sensual, her experiences of loneliness and intimacy seem almost tangible and her use of language has moved one critic to say it is as if she is licking the world with her tongue. Pavlova is also a renowned interpreter of poetry – she has presented, among others, the works of Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva, Boris Pasternak, Sergei Yesenin, Alexander Blok and Ossip Mandelstam, in audio books. 

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Veronika Kivisilla

Veronika Kivisilla (1978) is an Estonian poet who has also compiled children’s songbooks and written textbooks. Prior to publishing poetry, Kivisilla was known as a singer and storyteller. She has published three books of poetry. The most recent one, Cantus firmus published in 2015, was nominated for the Estonian Cultural Endowment poetry prize. Kivisilla’s poetry not only reveals an experienced storyteller in every poem but also her ability to find greater symbols and existential meanings in the smallest and most mundane activities. Every stranger met on a street corner or on the bus can say something important – or a random sentence dropped on the sidewalk or passageway becomes beautiful in Kivisilla’s telling. Every action counts, thus, every person counts – and therefore, the step from gloomy everyday life to clear meaning is shorter than we imagine.

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Kristjan Haljak

Kristjan Haljak (1990) is an Estonian poet who has published two collections: Palavik (2014) and Conceptio immaculata (2017). He has also translated one of his literary inspirations, Charles Baudelaire – his notes and fragments entitled Mon cœur mis à nu, published in 1887. French language and literature have had a great influence on Haljak who works as a French teacher; his other favourites include Rimbaud, Verlaine and French surrealist literature. Haljak’s own poetry shows some affinity with beat poetry in addition to surrealism – they are connected by the fluid presentation of inner freedom. Thus, Haljak’s poetry can be described as a free flow of personal connections and images, sometimes showing a radical freedom. Haljak’s performances are also captivating, as he combines the fluid and fragmentary nature of his work – a poem begins and ends abruptly, like a montage of an inner film strip full of intense movement.

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Bernhard Widder

Bernhard Widder (1955) is an Austrian poet and architect. Widder has published five books of poems since his debut Liber Tropicus appeared in 1983. Last year, Jaan Malin’s publishing house Luul published Widder’s collection of poems Handgerede / Slang of Hands. The foreword of this collection is written by Austrian poet and critic Christian Teissl who defines Widder as a poet sensitive to landscape and space, ‘a nomadic writer’. Namely, Widder consciously takes inspiration from the places he has travelled to or lived in. Teissl writes that Widder does not degrade the places he visits, circles around or measures with his footsteps to a stage for his role plays, instead, he serves them by depicting them. Since Widder as a poet is a mover, a traveller, it comes as no surprise that his focus is on the immediate experience. Widder has translated American and Spanish poetry.

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