Doris Kareva is one of Estonia’s leading poets. She was born in Tallinn in 1958, daughter of the composer Hillar Kareva, and published her first poems at the age of 14. In 1977 she entered the University of Tartu as an already acknowledged young poet. Due to her dissident connections she was expelled but graduated as a distance student in Romance and Germanic philology. She has worked for the cultural weekly Sirp (Sickle) and as the Secretary-General of the Estonian National Commission for UNESCO from 1992 to 2008, and is currently an editor for the literary journal Looming (Creation).
Following the restoration of Estonian independence, Kareva’s collection In Place of the World received the national cultural prize in 1993. She used the prize money to set up the ‘Straw Stipend’ for the publication of debut collections, to support emerging talent in unsettled times. Kareva has published 15 collections of poetry, a collection of essays and a work of prose. She has also translated poetry (Anna Akhmatova, Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Kabir, Rumi) and plays, essays and prose (W.H. Auden, Samuel Beckett, Joseph Brodsky, Kahlil Gibran, Shakespeare). She has compiled anthologies, written texts for music and theatre, and given lectures on culture, education and ethics in Estonia and abroad. Her poetry has been translated into over 20 languages and has inspired composers and directors in Estonia and abroad – sounding equally fitting at a punk concert and the funeral ceremony of a president, in a Warner Classics studio and at the Estonian Song Festival. Kareva has been honoured with two national cultural prizes and four literary prizes; in 2001 she was awarded the Estonian Order of the White Star.
She has two books of poetry in English translation, Shape of Time, translated by Tiina Aleman (Arc Publications, 2010), and Days of Grace: Selected Poems, translated by Miriam McIlfatrick-Ksenofontov (Bloodaxe Books, 2018).
Books by Doris Kareva