Mushrooms and Poetry

by Mati Sirkel

Mushrooms and Poetry

The first Luulesild/Runon silta (Poetry Bridge) between Estonia and Finland occurred way back in 1982. The number of venues where the poets of the two countries have presented their work, via translations, is quite large. Since then, the Estonian side of the Gulf of Finland has gone through a complete change of system, requiring certain alterations from the Muses as well. The poets did find a new voice, which has been heard, in Estonian and Finnish, in 1998 in Kajaani, in 1999 in Pärnu, in 2000 in Kajaani and in 2001, when September turned into October, in Käsmu and Tallinn.

The Estonian Writers’ Union owns a former captain’s house in the Käsmu fishing village that we call ‘the house of creativity’. It is possible to live and work there, close to the sea, amidst nature, all year round. It has long been common knowledge that a mushroom forest starts right behind the house, and many a writer has picked himself a nice panful from time to time. On 28 September we finally realised the long-planned ‘historical mushroom trip’, connecting it with the Poetry Bridge. Around 30 Estonian writers and a dozen Finnish colleagues, bridge-builders among them, spent a beautiful sunny autumn day in Käsmu, harvested an impressive number of mushrooms and ended the day with a poetry reading in the Käsmu Maritime Museum. The Estonian side was represented by the Card Pack people (see ELM, Autumn 2001, p.42): Asko Künnap, Jürgen Rooste, Karl-Martin Sinijärv, Triin Soomets, and Elo Viiding: ‘they all belong at the top of modern Estonian poetry’. Markku Kaskela, Timo Malmi, Jusa Peltoniemi and Merja Virolainen produced excellent poems, translated into Estonian by their southern colleagues.

After the mushrooms had been cleaned , marinated and perhaps partly consumed, nine poets presented a Poetry Bridge programme in the main hall of the Writers’ Union on 30 October. The hall was packed. Poetry has regained its rightful place, invigorating our souls and our senses.

Until we meet again, on the other side of the Gulf of Finland in 2002!

Mati Sirkel