International poetry programme “Do You See Yourself?”

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Venue: Estonian Writers’ Union (see on map)
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  • Poetry reading
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Translated poetry is the orphan of the current literary market of Estonia; however, it is impossible to ignore the cultural significance of poetry written in other languages, not to mention the fact that many notable Estonian poets have been remarkable translators of poetry. HeadRead festival has always aimed to highlight poetry written in foreign languages and contribute to its creative seepage into the Estonian cultural space. This time is no different, as we have invited poets from across the European continent, starting right next door. The international poetry programme “Do You See Yourself?” features five authors. Anna Auziņa (1975) is a Latvian poet, prose writer and painter, author of four acclaimed collections of poetry, characterised by a calm and personal poeticism of the everyday life, her ability to transport life into to poetry and poetry into life. Semyon Khanin (1970) is also from Latvia, part of the literary artistic group Orbita, which has made its mark in Estonian translated poetry with the collection Eesti keeles sa lobise, tibuke (Chat in Estonian, Baby, 2016). Poet and literary theorist Gail McConnell from Northern Ireland published her acclaimed debut collection The Sun is Open in 2021, exploring the life of her father, cut short by a murder organised by the IRA. She has also published two poetry pamphlets and a study on the links between poetry and religion in Northern Ireland. The Uzbekistan-born poet Hamdam Zakirov based in Finland and Hungarian author Anna T. Szabó complete the lineup. 

Hamdam Zakirov

Everyone looking for some dancefloor action are welcome to the KuKu Club on 27 May at 22.00, when the local pop phenomenon Lonitseera is followed by a dance set. The turntables are taken over by a fascinating figure, poet, journalist and musician Hamdam Zakirov, who is from Uzbekistan and is currently living in Helsinki. Friends of translated poetry may have come across the Estonian translation of his collection of poems Vahimardus kaugel merest (A Deck Watch Far From the Sea, 2004, translated by Katrin Väli). As the title indicates, the colours and smells of Zakirov’s native Uzbekistan, especially the Fergana Valley, feature prominently in his work – quite a far cry from Estonian landscapes. Yet the collection also describes the feelings of someone who has left the steppe winds and desert air for the Nordic frost. While Zakirov’s poetry can be heard on the Saturday poetry reading Can You See Yourself? at the Estonian Writers’ Union, his performance at the KuKu Club is that of an experienced music connoisseur and DJ. You can look forward to a selection of Soviet disco sounds and Uzbek pop music.


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Anna T. Szabó

Anna T. Szabó (1972) is a Hungarian poet, prose writer, playwright and translator. In other words: Szabó is a truly versatile author. She writes for both adults and children and of her collections of poems published so far, eight are aimed at adults and six at young readers. Szabó’s poetry is often sensual, almost tactile, it figuratively and literally reaches the bones of readers. This allows Szabó to delve into the human condition and beyond, to bring in plants and animals, from trees in a storm to the potatoes in the pantry. Her own lines perhaps best describe her attitude: „If a poem is a bath – then stepping out, you are stark naked.“ Szabó has also published two collections of short stories and written 12 plays. As a translator, her CV is also awe-inspiring – she has translated literature from English, French, Romanian and Dutch into Hungarian, including works by Sylvia Plath, W. B. Yeats and William Shakespeare. She is an active participant in the literary life of her home country; for example, between 2008 and 2011, she worked as the poetry editor of the literary magazine The Hungarian Quarterly, which promotes Hungarian literature. In addition to all of the above, she also contributes to the cultural life of Hungary with essays, opinion pieces and reviews. In the context of our festival, it is worth remembering that Szabó is an esteemed performer – she often uses various musicians, both jazz and classical music. 

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