Spores and Sparks

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Venue: National Library of Estonia (see on map)
Original language: English and Estonian
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One of the most notable literary events in Estonia last year was the publication of the anthology of English poetry, compiled and translated by Märt Väljataga (Väike inglise luule antoloogia, Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2018) that comprises more than 200 poems by 50 authors. The HeadRead festival highly recommends you buy this book and another one for your best friend! Väljataga won the annual literary prize of the Estonian Cultural Endowment for his effort. However, this publication is not significant only in the context of Väljataga’s work; any kind of translation is based on the idea that a literary work is a connection, no culture exists in a vacuum, no culture can be pure, instead there is a constant transmission, bumping, intertwining, and blending of ideas. Traces that sprout flowers. Culture is an organism where transfusions are inevitable. Who knows in which Estonian song or story do the the Canterbury Tales, translated by Vootele Viidemann, or The Waste Land, translated by Paul-Eerik Rummo, resonate? You can get a first-hand experience of how works are transmitted from one language to another, remaining the same, yet changing, in the National Library of Estonia at an event initiated by its Centre for the European Union. Festival guest Philip Gross (1952) talks about his Estonian roots and reads his poetry, while Estonian translations of his texts are presented by Doris Kareva (1958) who is certainly one of the best known Estonian poets in the English-speaking world. The reading takes place on Tuesday 21 May at 5 pm at the room of humanities, on the 7th floor of the National Library of Estonia. The title of the event comes from a poem by Doris Kareva and its English translation was conceived by Miriam McIlfatrick.

The event is organised in cooperation with the British Council and the National Library of Estonia

Philip Gross

Philip Gross (1952) is an English writer and poet. His father Juhan Karl Gross (1919-2011) was an Estonian war refugee. Gross has visited Estonia before, most recently in 2011, when he came here to teach creative writing. He is a renowned poet, demonstrated by the fact that his collection of poems The Water Table (2009), inspired by the Bristol canal, won the prestigious T. S. Eliot Prize. He has published around twenty collections of poetry in total, and often his work is characterised by thematic cohesion and sensitive composition. This is also palpable in his more recent works: in the book of poetry Love Songs of Carbon (2015), Gross deals with ageing, and through it the general themes of physical existence or the physicality of existence, the temporality of matter. The book was named Wales Book of the Year in 2016. The collection of poems A Bright Acoustic (2017) is a poetic study of listening, a mapping of natural as well as artificial sounds.

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