HeadRead to kick off with Estonian-English poetry evening Tuesday

The 2019 edition of HeadRead Literary Festival will kick off with an event on Tuesday night already.
The 2019 edition of HeadRead Literary Festival will kick off with an event on Tuesday night already. Source: HeadRead

Tallinn's HeadRead Literary Festival is kicking off this year with Spores and Sparks, an Estonian-English poetry evening, at the National Library of Estonia on Tuesday.

Tuesday's poetry evening, which begins at 5 p.m., will feature festival guest Philip Gross, who will talk about his Estonian roots and read his poems, and Doris Kareva, one of the best known Estonian poets in the English-speaking world, who will read the Estonian translations of Gross' works, according to a festival press release.

Over the next five days, festivalgoers can watch and listen to a host of authors, including renowned British writer Julian Barnes, David Lagercrantz, who successfully continued Stieg Larsson's Millennium novel series, Mick Herron, who has expanded the spy thriller genre, French-Moroccan writer Leïla Slimani, translator and writer Ian Thomson, who has Estonian ancestry, Armenian-born prose writer Narine Abgaryan, children's author Toon Tellegen, playwright and writer Inga Gaile, and literary critic Galina Yuzefovich.

Also involved in this year's festival are wolf researcher Elli Radinger, Norwegian explorer and businessman Erling Kagge, storyteller and choreographer Nikky Smedley, writer and literature lecturer Merete Mazzarella, columnist and writer A. N. Wilson, writer and journalist Sheila O'Flanagan, cultural journalist and author Mattias Berg, children's author Denisa Proškova, humorist and journalist Miska Rantanen, illustrator of the popular Gruffalo series Axel Scheffler, and crime writer Emelie Schepp.

Rich variety of content

The main venue of the festival, the Estonian Writers' Union located at Harju 1, will host conversations between Estonian authors that have become a festival tradition.

Among those to discuss life and their work together will be Tiit Aleksejev and Martin Algus, Mait Vaik and Paavo Matsin, Mudlum and Maarja Kangro, and Leelo Tungal and Tiia Toomet.

Quality Estonian prose will also be featured at the Estonian Children's Literature Centre, which will host the versatile and beloved Andrus Kivirähk as well as other well-known children's authors, including Kertu Sillaste, Kristi Kangilaski, Els Heinsalu, Jaanus Vaiksoo, and Wimberg.

A substantial poetry program has also always been a staple of the festival. On the official first day of the festival on Wednesday, attendees can see and listen to poetry from several generations at Ait (Vene 14), where Eva and Indrek Koff, Sander Udikas and surprise guests will take the stage. They, in turn, will pass the baton on to the new generation of bright young authors.

On Friday, translated poetry and poetry translations will be read by Eda Ahi and Doris Kareva, Paul-Eerik Rummo, Kalju Kruusa, Igor Kotjuh, and Aare Pilv.

Also part of the program this year are the traditional Poetry Disco at the KuKu Club and Poetry Mass at St. Nicholas' Church.

Panel discussions to be held in the framework of the festival will also cover several topical issues, such as the theme of country bumpkins and city slickers in literature, the climate and the written word, and the effect of technology on reading and the written word.

Musical, visual elements as well

Music has also always played an important role in the festival. This year, stories and songs will be brought together by Piret Päär and Meelika Hainsoo, Elina Gerodes, Polina Cherkasova, Mingo Rajandi and Jan Kaus, as well as Mari Kalkun and Aleksandra Klementski.

For the first time, the Design and Architecture Gallery (Pärnu mnt 6) will be included as one of many festival venues. An exhibition of Dmitri Kotjuh's photos from previous festivals will also be featured throughout the event.

For more information and a full festival program, check out HeadRead's English-language homepage here. HeadRead can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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