Exhibition in Sweden marks 140th birthday of Estonian poet Marie Under

Marie Under.
Marie Under. Source: The Association of Estonian Writers’ Museums

Swedish Estonians are commemorating the 140th anniversary of the birth of the poetess Marie Under with a traveling exhibition that will visit Swedish libraries and institutions prior to arriving in Estonia.

The new exhibition at the Estonian House in Stockholm focuses on the poet's exile years in Sweden. Photographs, recollections, and poetry from Marie Under's earlier life in Estonia are displayed in both Estonian and Swedish.

Although Under spent more than 30 years in Sweden and was repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature — in 12 separate years — the majority of her works have not been translated into Swedish. Under's period in exile is marked by profound sadness.

"For her, the Estonian language was the primary means of self-expression and when she ended up in Sweden she was cut off from it. I believe it was very difficult for her," Evelin Tamm, one of the exhibition's curators, said.

"At the same time, Mälaren and the Swedish countryside have inspired her. There were people with whom she shared creative moments. She was not alone here," Tamm added. "There were hundreds of Estonians residing in her neighborhood on the outskirts of Stockholm; it was like a small Estonian village."

The new traveling exhibition attempts, on the one hand, to introduce the Estonian poet to the Swedes and, on the other, to tell the story of her exile period that is less familiar to Estonians.


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Editor: Maiken Tiits, Kristina Kersa

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