HeadRead presents a substantial programme of Estonian literature

Tiit Aleksejev (© Dmitri Kotjuh)

In addition to presenting international guests, the HeadRead literary festival has always considered it vital to showcase gems of Estonian literature and give the audience an insight into the currents of the local literary scene.

For the first time, the programme features a morning coffee with Estonian authors who will present their poetry in Estonian as well as in translation; the programme also includes several recent award winners.

A rare chance to hear Estonian poetry read by the poets themselves in several languages is offered on the morning of 24 May at the Estonian Institute, where Veronika Kivisilla, Indrek Koff and Adam Cullen will present a selection of their works to a small audience. The intimate nature of the event comes from the size of the institute’s offices which will be hosting the literary festival for the first time.

At the main festival venue, the Estonian Writers’ Union, the traditional conversations between Estonian authors will continue. Life and work will be discussed by the winner of this year’s Friedebert Tuglas Short Story Award Tiit Aleksejev and the winner of the Estonian Cultural Endowment Prose Award Martin Algus, as well as Mait Vaik and Paavo Matsin, Mudlum and Maarja Kangro, and Leelo Tungal and Tiia Toomet. There will also be an abundance of excellent Estonian literature at the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, where the winner of this year’s Children’s Literature Award of the Estonian Cultural Endowment Andrus Kivirähk will talk, as well as children’s authors Kertu Sillaste, Kristi Kangilaski, Els Heinsalu, Jaanus Vaiksoo and Wimberg.

One of the staples of the programme has always been an extensive poetry programme. On the opening day of the festival, 22 May, audiences can listen to the poetry of several generations at Kloostri Ait, where Eva and Indrek Koff with Sander Udikas and surprise guests will perform. The baton is then passed on to the bright young things and a total of ten up-and-coming young performers will present their work. On Friday, the fresh laureate of the Estonian Cultural Endowment Poetry Award Eda Ahi as well as Doris Kareva, Paul-Eerik Rummo, Kalju Kruusa, Igor Kotjuh and Aare Pilv will read poetry and poetry translations in Kloostri Ait. On the last day of the festival, 26 May, the traditional Poetry Mass is held at the St Nicholas’ Church where the lineup includes both Estonian as well as international performers.

The evenings of the festival have always been filled with a different take on the written word. On Wednesday, the young students of the Old Town Educational College (Vanalinna Hariduskolleegium, VHK) will present their stage programme and the evening will continue at the KuKu Club with a poetry disco curated by Berk Vaher. Another fresh Tuglas award winner, Jan Kaus, will present a musical and lyrical programme with double bass player Mingo Rajandi at the Estonian Writers’ Union on Friday evening, and on Saturday, the actors Maria Peterson, Marika Vaarik and Kristo Viiding will perform the programme “Timeless Texts in Temporal Theatre”.

The full programme for the festival will soon be available on the festival website.

The HeadRead literary festival is held in Tallinn on 22-26 May.

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