Piret Jaaks and Sveta Grigorjeva

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Venue: Estonian Writers’ Union (see on map)
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  • Conversation with writer
Original language: Estonian
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Sveta Grigorjeva

© Maria Obermeier

Sveta Grigorjeva (1988) is an Estonian choreographer, dancer and poet. Already her debut, the collection kes kardab sveta grigorjevat? (2013) made waves and inspired debates. Grigorjeva’s bold, ironic style that pierces stereotypes is based on the author’s self-perception – a female creative born in Lasnamäe to Estonian and Russian parents, she speaks up from the margins of society, for the outcasts and weirdos, against social numbness and self-evident truths that have been declared universal; however, the force of the voice has elevated her to the centre of contemporary Estonian literature and she is considered one of the most important authors of the so-called Värske Rõhk generation. Grigorjeva’s aims and importance are verified by her latest, third collection of poems titled Frankenstein (2023), which has been met with a positively rapturous reception. There is no doubt Grigorjeva is continuing the socially sensitive style of poetry of the noughties that has had a significant impact on Estonian literature – the legacy of Jürgen Rooste, Elo Viiding and others – yet she does it in a peculiar, Grigorjeva-like way, calling on readers to play with notions of the human soul and body that all too often tend to become solidified. Grigorjeva’s weight in our culture is particularly clearly felt at this year’s festival, as it will feature a special screening of Vladimir Loginov’s documentary film Must film, which is inspired by Sveta Grigorjeva’s poetry. Grigorjeva herself will meet her readers and talk to Piret Jaaks.

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Piret Jaaks

© Stina Kase

Piret Jaaks (1980) is an Estonian prose writer, playwright and screenwriter. She entered the literary scene in the early noughties as a member of the Tartu NAK group, starting with short prose. She gained wider attention in 2011, when her play about the trauma of a breakup, Näha roosat elevanti, won the drama competition of the Estonian Theatre Agency. This was followed by the collection of magical-realist short prose, Linnalegend (2015), which won her the Betti Alver Debut Prize. Jaaks has published six prose works and more than twenty drama texts, which have been produced in almost all the major theatres in Estonia. She made her novel debut last year when her historical novel Taeva tütred (2023) won third place at the Estonian novel competition. It is a story about the Estonian-born Baltic-German missionary Hedwig Büll, whose selfless acts during the First World War could be compared to those of Mother Teresa. The novel gained a lot of attention: it was called a mission story with a rare power of suggestion, with its atmosphere created with such skill it feels like the author was there a hundred years ago. Jaaks was awarded the Medal of the Estonian Heritage Society for the novel. Piret Jaaks will speak to Sveta Grigorjeva.

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