Poetry guests: Yolanda Castaño, Leonard Schwartz, Sergei Zavjalov, Doris Kareva, Jaan Kaplinski

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Venue: Wabadus (see on map)
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Sergey Zavyalov

Sergey Zavyalov (1958) is a Russian poet and literary scholar. In 2004, he emigrated to Finland and moved to Switzerland in 2011, and is currently teaching the history of Russian poetry at the University of Zürich. Zavyalov published his first poems in the 1980s and has published five books of poetry so far. In 2015, he won the prestigious Andrei Bely Prize. Four of his books have been translated into English, while Estonian readers can enjoy his experimental book of poetry and his first collection of essays entitled Ars poetica. The latter highlights Zavyalov’s somewhat unusual interests – for example, official Soviet poetry, which the author approaches from unexpected angles, focusing on the relationship between poetry and social currents and highlighting forgotten or ignored nuances. Thanks to his Mordvin roots Zavyalov also touches on Finno-Ugric poetry in the book. Sergey Zavyalov will perform three times at the festival: on Wednesday 24 May at 6 pm at the Russian Theatre, when he will talk to translator and poet Aare Pilv, on Friday 26 May at 7 pm at Café Wabadus and on Sunday 28 May at 1 pm at the Estonian Writers’ Union, where he will be joined by poet and translator Igor Kotjuh.

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Yolanda Castaño

© Alberto Pombo

Yolanda Castaño (1977) is a Galician poet, artist and critic, a promoter of cultural and literary life in Galicia with extensive experience in organising various literary events. She has published eight books of poems, the first of which, Elevar as pálpebras, was published in 1995, and the most recent, A segunda lingua, in 2014. Castaño’s poetry is rich in every sense of the word – it echoes the complexity and layers of today’s world, the multitude of beings, sounds and places. It begins with the spatial experience of people, the openness of the world and the chance of finding connections everywhere, and arrives at the eternally unresolved dichotomy of the body and the soul (or the word), viewed through an autobiographical prism. Or as Castaño herself has said: “The world is a hotel without a reception.” In addition to writing and organising cultural events, Castaño has also worked on Galician television and was named best television commentator in 2005. Castaño is a renowned performer who combines poetry with music, theatre, dance, architecture, figurative art and even cuisine. 

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Doris Kareva

Doris Kareva (1958) is an Estonian poet, one of those people about whom it is easy to write ‘needs no further introduction’. However, even if Kareva needs no further introduction, she definitely deserves to be regularly recalled. One of our most modest national treasures, her work is simple, yet mysterious. She is the perfect writer, whose influence becomes obvious gradually, profoundly, behind everyday hustle and bustle – above all with her writing, which is precise yet abstract, linguistically polished yet playful. Kareva’s most recent work Perekonnaalbum (2015) is built around a consistent poetic technique: the personification of ideas and presenting them as characters. In 2013, Mihkel Mutt wrote about Kareva in the literary magazine Looming: “Doris Kareva continues to write at an age when illusions have usually been forgotten, but the mind is keen. And this is good. She stands out like a bright spot, like a great reminder amidst all the carousels and hurdy-gurdy music, the triviality and the cheap sales.”

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Leonard Schwartz

Leonard Schwartz is a Jewish American poet and cultural journalist. His latest book, The New Babel: Towards A Poetics of the Mid-East Crises, published in 2016, includes poetry, essays and short interviews. As the title indicates, the book delves into the seemingly endless conflict in the Middle East and USA’s involvement, and the playful poems and essays try to find a linguistic (and thus human) alternative of freedom with the help of Arab, Jewish and American literature. If, published in 2012, is also a rather rare work when it comes to genres – it is a single philosophical poem in which the author explores the collective consciousness of humanity, the merging of the self and others in ‘us’ in a way that makes ontology and epistemology seem as natural as fear or hope. In addition to poems, Schwartz also published the collection of essays A Flicker at the Edge of Things: Essays on Poetics in 2008. Schwartz also hosts the radio programme Cross Cultural Poetics. 

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Jaan Kaplinski

Jaan Kaplinski (1941) is an Estonian poet, prose writer, essayist, journalist and philosopher, one of the brightest and most prolific authors of the ‘Cassette generation’ of the 1960s, whose work brings together seemingly converse motifs and conditions. His range is extensive not only in terms of genres but also themes and space, ranging from homeliness to outer space. Over the years, Kaplinski has been inspired by nature, local folklore, classical culture, and modernity as well as the newest scientific discoveries. His voice is introverted and socially engaged at the same time. The Kaplinski phenomenon is so multi-layered and bountiful that it has begun opening up in a new light, from different perspectives – in 2015, the literary magazine Looming published his experimental play Neljakuningapäev, which was written in 1977 and still feels contemporary 40 years later. Kaplinski will perform at our festival as a poet – it should be remembered that his debut was the 1965 book of poems Jäljed allikal and that before tackling other genres, he had published Tolmust ja värvidest (1967), a masterpiece of Estonian poetry in the second half of the 20th century.

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