Contra (real name Margus Konnula, born 22. III 1974) is a poet and translator.
He was born in Urvaste, Võru county. He studied at primary schools in Urvaste and Kuldre and at Antsla secondary school, which he graduated in 1992. Contra’s life and creative work has always been connected to Urvaste and Võru county. His local identity is also expressed through his love for Võru dialect, which he uses daily and in his creative work. He served in the military in the Estonian border guard cordon at Piusa from 1993-1994. Afterwards, he worked as a postman and from 1996-1999, he was the postmaster at Urvaste, before becoming a freelance writer and screenwriter. From 2004-2008, he was also the editor of the local newspaper of the Urvaste parish. He has self-published most of his writings.
He has written poetry since the early 1990s, first publishing it at magazines. His first collection Ohoh was published in 1995. He was one of the most popular poets of the 1990s, who blurred the boundaries between folklore and literature. His poetry is doggerelish and imitates bawdy songs, it is purposefully robust. He uses many references and quotes in his poetry, e.g. lyrics to popular songs. Folklorists consider him a modern bard. Contra’s verses often reflect Estonian society and he uses a lot of [dark] humor.
He calls his adaptations of song lyrics covers. With his work, he opposes the early tradition of separating high poetry and folklore. Contra is socially active writer who is glad to present his work at public performances (e.g. he often visits schools) but also in traditional media (television, radio) and social media (Facebook).
He has translated poetry, prose, and fairy tales from Latvian, but also poetry, e.g. Allan Ginsberg, from English. He was the first non-Latvian to be awarded the Eduards Veidenbaums literary award in 2017 and the Latvian Cross of Recognition, V class in 2019. For translating Latvian literature, he received the Estonian-Latvian and Latvian-Estonian translation award in 2014.
Contra has received numerous domestic awards as well, among others the Bernard Kangro Literary Prize in 2001 for the poetry collection Suusamütsi tutt (Ski Hat Bobble'), the Oskar Luts Humor Prize in 2007, the Literature Endowment Annual Award (in the category of children's and young adult literature) in 2014, Karl Eduard Sööt prize for children’s poetry in 2014 and the Good Children’s Book prize in 2015.
A. Mv. (Translated by A. S.)
Books in Estonian
Ohoh. Tallinn: Eesti Luuleliit, 1995, 63 lk.
Kesmasolin. Tartu: M. Konnula, 1996, 55 lk.
Üüratu üürlane. Tartu: M. Konnula, 1996, 41 lk.
Contramutter – 10 lend. Tartu: M. Konnula, 1997, 54 lk. [E-raamat: 2011.]
Ei ole mina su raadio. Urvaste: M. Konnula, 1998, 98 lk. [E-raamat: 2011.]
Tarczan. Urvaste: Mina Ise, 1999, 52 lk. [E-raamat: 2011.]
Naine on mees. Urvaste: Mina Ise, 1999, 48 lk. [E-raamat: 2011.]
Päike ja lamp. Koostanud ja toimetanud Kivisildnik. Tartu: Eesti Kostabi Selts, 1998, 45 lk.
Suusamütsi tutt. Luulet aastatest 1974-2000. Urvaste: M. Konnula, 2001, 160 lk. [E-raamat: 2012.]
Lugejad sügisel tibutavad. Urvaste: M. Konnula, 2001, 27 lk.
Tuul kägistab ust. Urvaste: Mina Ise, 2002, 56 lk.
Contrarünnak. Piitsaküla: Mina Ise, 2004, 64 lk.
Liivatee imepeen seeme. Piitsaküla: Mina Ise, 2005, 32 lk.
Kuuseebu. Valitud jõululuuletusi läbi aegade. Tartu: Mina Ise, 2006, 31 lk. [E-raamat: 2006.]
Rõuge – seitsme järve maa. Rõuge: Rõuge vallavalitsus, 2007, 10 lk.
Haikud: suvi 2008. Eesti, 2008, 18 lk.
Poiste aabits. Tallinn: Grenander, 2010, 56 lk.
Okseoksjon. Tallinn: IlmaPress, 2011, 143 lk.
Neiuke tuli õõtsudes: 3. lauluraamat. Piitsaküla: IlmaPress, 2013, 111 lk.
Kõik on kõige targemad. Tallinn: Tallinna Keskraamatukogu, 2014, 76 lk. [2. trükk: 2015.]
100% Contra. Pärnu: Jumalikud Ilmutused, 2015, 100 lk.
Samal ajal sajal jalal. Tallinn: Post Factum, 2017, 272 lk.
Olkõ vakka. Luuletused võru keeles. Urvaste: Mina Ise, 2019, 93 lk.
Legoist. Urvaste: Mina ise, 2019, 195 lk.
Tähekaardid. Illustreerinud Kirke Kangro. Tallinn: Holger, 2002, 32 kaarti.
Presidendi suur saladus. Piitsaküla: Mina Ise, 2004, 106 lk.
Minu jonn. Tallinn: Ajakirjade Kirjastus, 2006, 31 lk.
Minu Läti. Anekdoot tõelisest eestlasest. Tartu: Petrone Print, 2016, 223 lk. [E-raamat: 2016.]