Estonia’s Jaan Kaplinski (1941-2021) was one of Europe’s major poets, and one of his country’s best-known writers and cultural figures. He was a member of the new post-Revolution Estonian parliament in 1992-95 and his essays on cultural transition and the challenges of globalisation are published across the Baltic region.
This selection includes work previously unpublished in English as well as poems drawn from all four of his previous UK collections: The Same Sea in Us All, The Wandering Border, Through the Forest and Evening Brings Everything Back.
‘He is re-thinking Europe, revisioning history, in these poems of our times. Elegant, musing, relentless, inward, fresh. Poems of gentle politics and love that sometimes scare you’ – Gary Snyder.
‘He is a rare mixture of intellect and real simplicity. Very conscious of the places words cannot reach, his poems create a space around them that is intensely good to be in’ – Philip Gross, Poetry Review.
‘Hell and heaven are exhilaratingly interfused in these poems, and the poet’s scale is his own littleness in “this huge blind wind”. His poems loom and soar, veering from lines of one word to sweeping bravura meditations, and achieve a great beauty’ – Adam Thorpe, Observer.
Jaan Kaplinski reads from his Selected Poems
Jaan Kaplinski reads a selection of his poems in Estonian and English and discusses his life and work. Neil Astley filmed Kaplinski at Katie Donovan’s house in Dalkey when he was at Poetry Now in Dún Laoghaire in March 2011 to launch his Bloodaxe Selected Poems. Three poems are read in Estonian and English, and three in English only: ‘The washing never gets done’(‘Pesu ei saa kunagi pestud’),‘The East-West border is always wandering’ (‘Ida ja Lääne piir rändab ikka’), ‘Death does not come from outside’(‘Surm ei tule väljast’), ‘Once I got a postcard from the Fiji Islands’, ‘Silence of night’ and ‘To eat a pie, and to have it’. In the interview extracts which follow his reading on the film, he talks about the philosophical background of his poetry, his father’s involvement with Frankism and Sufism, and his own explorations of Buddhism and the philosophy of language. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed & edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2017).
The Kaplinski System
Teaser for the documentary film The Kaplinski System, a portrait of the Estonian poet and thinker Jaan Kaplinski. This is a film in the making by Raphael Gianelli-Meriano and Tiina Savi about poetry, cultural and personal heritage during the Soviet period and in present-day Estonia. Kaplinski is interviewed in French, with English subtitles, and readings of the poems in the original Estonian.
(4 minute extract from film in progress)
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