Jaan Kaplinski is one of Estonia's best-known writers and cultural figures. He was born in Tartu in 1941, shortly after the Soviet annexation of Estonia. His mother was Estonian, and his Polish father died in a labour camp in northern Russia when Jaan was still a child. ‘My childhood,’ he has said, ‘passed in Tartu, a war-devastated university town. It was a time of repression, fear and poverty.’
Jaan Kaplinski studied Romance Language and Linguistics at Tartu University and has worked as a researcher in linguistics, as a sociologist, ecologist and translator. He has lectured on the History of Western Civilisation at Tartu University and has been a student of Mahayana Buddhism and philosophies of the Far East. He has published several books of poetry and essays in Estonian, Finnish and English, and his work has been translated into Norwegian, Swedish, Latvian, Russian and Czech.
After publishing translations of three collections with Harvill in Britain, one of these from Breitenbush and one from Copper Canyon in the US, Kaplinski published Evening Brings Everything Back with Bloodaxe Books in 2004, a book combining work from three earlier titles published in Estonia, Evening brings everything back (1984), Ice and Heather (1989) and Summers and Springs (1995). His semi-autobiographical novel, The Same River, translated by Susan Wilson, was published by Peter Owen in 2009.
His Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2011) includes work previously unpublished in English as well as poems drawn from all four of his previous UK collections: The Same Sea in Us All (1985/1990), The Wandering Border (1987/1992), Through the Forest (1991/1996) and Evening Brings Everything Back (2004). He was awarded the European Prize for Literature in 2016.
He has translated poetry from French, English, Spanish, Chinese and Swedish (a book of poems by Tomas Tranströmer), and travelled in many countries, including Britain, China, Turkey and parts of Russia. Awarded many prizes and honours, he is a member of several learned societies including the Universal Academy of Cultures, and has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Jaan Kaplinski was a member of the new post-Revolution Estonian parliament (Riigikogu) in 1992-95 and his essays on cultural transition and the challenges of globalisation are published across the Baltic region. Further details and texts are on his website http://jaan.kaplinski.com/
Books by Jaan Kaplinski