Vihmakass ja kakerdaja 2019, 65 pp
ISBN 9789949997732

Øyvind Rangøy is a Norwegian poet whose life is tightly entwined with Estonia. His first collection of Estonian-language poems Entrails won the 2019 Betti Alver Award for Debut Literature. The release of a collection of original Estonian-language poems by an author who learned the language only in adulthood is impressive in and of itself, but what has this Norwegian Estophile managed to do with words to earn him such fame and recognition?

Entrails is composed of thoughtful story-like poems that paint the picture of a bright and measureless world, mainly with the help of wild vistas and (childhood) memories. Rangøy also records many simple domestic scenes, the ordinariness of which he has in no way tried to sand into a more poetic form. The average Estonian might even find it odd how his relaxed, warm, and trusting nature meshes so organically with the intellectual expanse. Is this really someone who has grown up in a true welfare state?

Entrails by
Øyvind Rangøy

I come from a land of granite. A land of storms. A land of cliffs and shipwrecks, 

but with the childlike belief that the state wishes its citizens well. With the childlike

belief that human society is, all in all, humane. 

Here, the soil is soft and the stories hard. […]

(“Soft Soil”) 

Although Rangøy touches upon the themes of Estonia and Norway as one would expect – of two homes, languages, cultures, and histories – their distinction is not of central importance. Entrails’ metaphysical stratum sprouts from the hearth and mundane life. Childhood memories are observed not as an adult looking back in time, but seemingly from a third dimension; suspended above one’s own life. His birth is described from a point in spacetime at which it hasn’t happened yet. The absence of page numbers similarly relaxes the accustomed rigidity of linear systems. An all-penetrating light is captured in surrounding nature and commonplace objects; noticing it supports and enriches a person. Entrails is a devoted display of reverence for the richness that lies within all of creation:

There isn’t little here, I muse. There is a lot.
I draw it so deep into my lungs it hurts. Like light

Maarja Helena Meriste is a poetry editor in a literary magazine Värske Rõhk, literary critic and translator. She is currently pursuing a master’s in literature in Tallinn University, focusing on computational stylistics.