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TRANSLATIONS

 

Moose Beetle Swallow

Moose Beetle Swallow
Southword Editions, 2005.
Poems by Andres Ehin. Translated from Estonian by Patrick Cotter.

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Ehin calls himself a surrealist without any reservations, but according to his own words, he is more a heretic than a dogmatist, preferring C.G. Jung's conception of the collective subconscious to Freud's psychoanalysis. The former can also easily be related to Ehin's interest in the Orient and in cultures of primitive peoples. He has, by the way, worked as a teacher with the Selqups in Siberia and found inspiration in their folklore. He has also been influenced by Acmeists, Imagists and Spanish Modernists. --Estonian Literary Magazine

What the critics have said:

"The essential Ehin is there. Playful, humouristic, ironic, chaotic, capable of bright, sudden metaphors, responding to life's absurdity with an absurd palette of images and language." - World Literature Today

"There is cheerful irreverence at work in his poetry which battles gloom even when he's treating the most serious or depressing subjects. He is a poet to cherish, a wise and pleasant sensibility in the guise of a knockabout clown. A real artist." -The Penniless Press

 

Selected Poems from A Stay in a Sanatorium

 

deep, below ground, breathe

                        birds

                        buried in dirt

if you dust one clean

                        her cornflower plumage

                        will luminously shine

such birds are

                        moose beetle swallows

                        ultramarine mole-eagles

with these birds

                        estonians play at being cherokees

cherokees play at being estonians

but these birds will allow

only the indigenous

to pluck their feathers so blue

we estonians and cherokees hail

                        from the land of tricoloured dogs

                        and underground birds

but where are we headed

__________

 

The Wind, The Autumn Wind

 

Wind hurls a scrunched-up leaf onto the asphalt,

Wind parts open the slits of fog’s skirt,

Wind battles against fog but capitulates,

Wind shreds sheets of cloud to pieces,

            uncovering a pale blue, shivering sky,

Wind, blood in it nose, scours an icy slaughterhouse.

Wind dances its drunken jig with a million lanterns

Wind wants to be fresher than sleet or rain,

            but wafts the acrid chlorine of a cheap shebeen,

            stale-nicotine, retch-inducing wind.

Wind, mean wind, petty tormentor,

Wind, great wind, sovereign of the plains.

 

__________

 

Sea Vista

 

snow is falling on a naked young lady, a pretty young thing,

she is lying in the mouth of the river, one eye is shut, the

other open,

there is a leaky bucket on the shore,

and ridiculously long hairs loose on the waterfront,

small, bloodsucking leeches are there,

on a heap of sawdust a starling perches

golden beak clasping a tiny black book,

the host tries to snare that roguish sweet

with his tongue which is curling and long.

 

your memory hauls itself onto

a long sinuous twig

and leaps off.

Copyright ©2005 Andres Ehin

English translation Copyright ©2005 Patrick Cotter

 

 

Andres Ehin

 

Andres Ehin was born in Tallinn, March 13th, 1940. Poet, translator, novelist, editor, short story writer, radio play auteur, journalist, essayist. He studied at the University of Tartu at the same time as Jaan Kaplinski. Ehin subsequently found work as a free-lance writer, editor and journalist, working from 1965 to 1974. As a poet, Ehin has published many collections including Spiritual Nostrils (1978), I Sip the Darkness (1988), Full-Moon Midday (1990), Consciousness is Snakeskin (1996) and Subconsciousness Is Always Jolly (2000). He has won a plethora of awards and prizes including the Looming Prize for best novel of the year and The Estonian Culture Capital Foundation Award. He lives in Rapla with his wife, the poet Ly Seppel.

 

 

 

Pat Cotter

 

Patrick Cotter was born in Cork in 1963 where he still lives with his son and daughter. He works as a publisher and festival programmer for the Munster Literature Centre. In the early eighties he published short fiction in newspapers and periodicals before turning to poetry. He has published several chapbooks and is represented in a number of anthologies. As a translator he is currently working on a collection of love poems by Paul Celan as well as on a selection of younger, contemporary German poets. His own poetry has been translated into Estonian, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.

 

 

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