Hunt, 2018. 224 pp.
ISBN 9789949731909

Occasionally, people speak in alarm about how the digital age has sentenced ‘cherished old book culture’ to inevitable extinction; because the unbridled stream of online writing will simply triumph in the battle for textual existence. Yet, perhaps the situation isn’t so hopeless after all and these two mediums can exist side-by-side in harmony.  

Veronika Kivisilla’s Until Love Sparks is a collection of everyday shards of thought that made their debut not on the book’s pages, but on the author’s Facebook wall. Something about the essence of these observations once typed out into the vastness of the internet transforms when printed between book covers. They are given a unifying title, a beginning and an end, design, and a physical form: in short, a certain literary claim and poetic prestige.

Kivisilla writes about everything “little and temporal” that we encounter in our daily lives but sticks in our memory for some reason. Snippets of conversation overheard on the bus. A mundane scene that captures your attention. Nature. Pearls of wisdom that tumble from your child’s mouth. The latter is clearly of chief importance in the work. Kivisilla’s own two children, especially her younger son, serve as an adhesive and keep one conscious in the daily grind that might not seem so special to a dulled adult gaze. Behind the writing lies a poetic stance, according to which, that which is important and meaningful is not revealed in a philosophical bubble hovering above “crumbs” of the mundane, but the very opposite. That, which is important is concealed in the little elements of ordinary living, and the key to wisdom is an ability to zoom into these tiny fragments, not out from them.

To the extent that the brief poetic scenes speak for themselves, Kivisilla’s writing is unforced and natural, lacking sought-after metaphors and wordplay (though the latter does pour from her son’s mouth) or an attempt to create the Great Word. One can interpret a kind of resistance to the intended cliché and sloganeering that has beset contemporary writing.
If one were to try to phrase another fundamental notion that peeks out from behind Kivisilla’s short pieces, it might be that youth is not degenerate. Occasionally, the author’s tone reflects melancholy over a lost world.  A world to which children appear to enjoy uninhibited access, but which we as adults seek through nostalgia, lofty philosophy, or high art. Until Love Sparks is a collection of fragments, trimmed by the safe, warm, peaceful, and at the same time meaningful atmosphere of one’s cozy den.

Maarja Helena Meriste is a literary critic, editor, and is pursuing a master’s in literature at the University of Tartu. In 2017, Meriste received the youth literary magazine Värske Rõhk’s annual award for literary review.