Andres Ehin (13. III 1940 – 10. XII 2011) was a surrealist poet and a humorist prose writer, translator, editor and a reciter.
Ehin was born in Tallinn in 1940, son to a civil servant and translator. He graduated from Tallinn Secondary School No 21 in 1958 and from the University of Tartu as an Estonian philologist, specializing in Finno-Ugric studies, in 1964. From 1964 to 1965 he lived with the Samoyed people and worked as a teacher of German, history and PE in Ratta village in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug of Siberia. After returning to Estonia, Ehin was the editor of Küsimused ja Vastused (’Questions and Answers’) magazine from 1965–1966, the editor-in-chief of Sirp ja Vasar newspaper from 1966–1969, department manager of Kultuur ja Elu magazine from 1969–1972, and the senior scientific editor of Eesti Nõukogude Entsüklopeedia (Estonian Soviet Encyclopaedia) from 1972–1974. From 1974-2011 he was a professional writer; in 1992, the Estonian editor of Mana magazine and a member of the Communist Party from 1968–1989. In 1990, he joined the Estonian Social Democratic Party and chaired the Rapla County branch of the Popular Front. He joined the Estonian Writer’s Union in 1972 and was the Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of Tartu in 2007. He participated in several international poetry festivals, including in South America in 2001. Ehin has been bestowed the 4th Class Order of the White Star of the Estonian Republic. He lived in Rapla, was married to Ly Seppel (Ehin) and is the father of poet Kristiina Ehin. He is buried in Pärnamäe Cemetery in Tallinn.
Ehin’s debut as a poet was in 1960. He was greatly influenced by the language innovator Artur Alliksaar, the Estonian expatriate poet and surrealist Ilmar Laaban, the intellectualism of his friend Jaan Kaplinski and had an interest in the Oriental philosophy and aesthetics and in Spanish and Russian modernism. His first collection Hunditamm ('Wolves’ Oak', 1968) was published in the boxed set Noored autorid 1967 (’Young Authors of 1967’) and his second collection Uks lagendikul (’Door in the Clearing’, 1971) in the Loomingu Raamatukogu ('Library of the magazine Looming'). His sixth collection Teadvus on ussinahk ('Consciousness is Snakeskin', 1995) received the Literature Endowment Annual Award in 1996. Several anthologies of his works have also been published: Täiskuukeskpäev ('Full Moon Midday', 1990), Alateadvus on alatasa purjus ('The Unconscious is Frequently Drunk', 2000, which received the annual Estonian National Culture Award in 2001) and Igavik vannitoas ('Eternity in the Bathroom', 2010). The creative approach of Ehin is consistently visually and eidetically surreal, yet he is in favor of the constructivism of the mind and rejects automatic writing. He occasionally referred to himself as a 'pataphysicist', a term coined by Alfred Jarry. The main devices of Ehin’s fun yet critical of society fantasy pictures are numerous contradictory oxymorons, ill-matched catachreses, paragrammatic language jokes (spoonerisms), extended metaphors that turn into plots, and absurdist humor. In 2003, his poem „sügaval maa all elavad…“ ('"deep underground there live..."') was awarded the Juhan Liiv Poetry Prize.
Writing under the pseudonym Lembit Vahak, he published the allegorical-satirical play Karske õhtupoolik ('Abstinent Evening', 1972, co-authored by Enn Mikker and Rein Siim). Kalevipoja lood ('Tales of Kalevipoeg', 1988) was staged in the Estonian Puppet Theatre, Lugu Rummu Jürist ('The Tale of Rummu Jüri', 2000) and Volquin Varbola all ('Volquin Under Varbola', 2007) were staged as open air theater pieces. Additionally, he also wrote radio shows. His parody collection of mystifications Ajaviite peerud lähvad lausa lõkendama ('Spills of Entertainment Start Outright to Flare Up Bright', 1980) excited audiences and he continued to write funny, mysterious and pseudo-documental short stories even later. Ehin authored two novels: The story of a legendary outlaw, the Estonian Robin Hood, Rummu Jüri mälestused ('The Memoirs of Rummu Jüri', 1996; a movie in 1994, directed by J. Kolberg) and the epistolary novel Seljatas sada meest ('She Floored a Hundred Men', 1998) about czar-era Estonian female wrestlers.
Ehin has both alone and with Ly Seppel translated poetry and prose but also fairy tales and essays (Yury Olesha, A. and B. Strugatsky, F. Dostoevsky, R. Dahl, H. Hoffmann, W. Busch, A. Maclean, C. Shields, S. Alexievich, D. Bagley; Yunus Emre, A. Navoiy, P. Mustapää, E.-L. Manner, P. Hansson; Irish, English, Italian, Japanese, Georgian, Spanish, Latvian, French, Swedish, German, Slovenian, Finnish, Turkish and Hungarian poetry; Pu Songling, Chukchi fairytales, 1001 Nights; C. Pinkola Estés, R. Bly, T. Hellsten etc.). In 1998, he received the Finnish E. W. Ponkala Foundation award for translating the Finnish poetry anthology Kaarsild ('Arch Bridge').
A. M. (Translated by A. S.)
Books in Estonian
Hunditamm: luuletusi 1959–1966. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1968, 64 lk. ['Noored autorid 1967'.]
Uks lagendikul. Tallinn: Perioodika [Loomingu Raamatukogu], 1971, 83 lk.
Luba linnukesel väljas jaurata. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1977, 87 lk.
Vaimusõõrmed. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1978, 56 lk.
Tumedusi rüübatan. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1988, 124 lk.
Täiskuukeskpäev: Valitud luuletusi 1959–1988. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1990, 222 lk.
Teadvus on ussinahk: Luulet. Tallinn: UusMeedia, 1995, 139 lk.
Alateadvus on alatasa purjus: Koondkogu. Toimetanud Ly Seppel. Tallinn: Varrak, 2000, 518 lk.
Paluteder ja mutrikorjaja. Tallinn: Varrak, 2004, 267 lk. [Sisaldab ka tõlkeluulet.]
Haiku Le Andres Ehin. A rinne an leagan Gaeilge Gabriel Rosenstock. Cork: Munster Literature Centre, Southword Editions, 2004, 18 pp. [24 haikus in Estonian and Irish.]
Udusulistaja: Luulet 2004–2007. Tallinn: Varrak, 2008, 230 lk.
黄金虫が月にキスする: 句集 = Sitikas suudleb kuud: haikukogu = A chafer kisses the moon: haiku collection. English translations by Jim Kacian; Japanese translations by Ban'ya Natsuishi. Fujimi : Ginyu Press, 2008, 49 pp.
Andres Ehin & Fujitomi Yasuo, Kuitund = The if hour = 白い火. Translated by Patrick Cotter, Andres Ehin, Fujitomi Yasuo, Harvey Lee Hix, Ilmar Lehtpere, John Solt, Jüri Talvet, edited by Taimi Paves; illustrations by Fujitomi Yasuo, design by Masayo Ave. [Tallinn: Maalehe Raamat], c2010, 223 pp. [Trilingual edition in Estonian, English and Japanese.]
Igavik vannitoas: Valikkogu. Toimetanud Ly Seppel. Autori illustratsioonid. Tallinn: Varrak, 2010, 190 lk.
Pilvest ja varesest: Luulet 2010–2011. Toimetanud Ly Seppel. Tallinn: Verb, 2012, 108 lk.
蜻蛉が大空に舞う = Kiilid tantsivad taevas = The dragonflies dance in heaven. Edited by Taimi Paves, Kersti Koll; translations into Japanese: Fujitomi Yasuo, Natsuishi Ban'ya, Taimi Paves; translations into English: R. H. Blythe, David Burleigh, Stewen Carter, David Cobb, Lee Gurga, Jim Kacian, Koko Kato, Kurose Hiroko, Ilmar Lehtpere, Hetti Meltsas, Miyashita Emiko, Nakaoka Naomi, Ueda Makoto; design by Inga Heamägi. [Tallinn]: Ars Orientalis, , 108 pp. [Haikus and haiku translations by Andres Ehin.]
Sisemine hobune = Inner horse = An capall istigh. English translations: Ilmar Lehtpere, leaganacha Gaeilge: Aogán Ó Muircheartaigh; [drawings: Andres Ehin; cover design: Valerie Seery]. Baile Átha Cliath: Coisceim, 2014, 132 pp.
Ajaviite peerud lähvad lausa lõkendama. Tallinn: Perioodika [Loomingu Raamatukogu], 1980, 56 lk. [Lühilood.]
Rummu Jüri mälestused: Vabalt ära moonutatud. Tartu: Elmatar, 1996, 154 lk. [Jutustus.]
Seljatas sada meest. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Instituut, 1998, 142 lk. [Kiriromaan.]
Lembit Vahak [Andres Ehin, Enn Mikker, Rein Siim], Karske õhtupoolik. Tallinn: Perioodika [Loomingu Raamatukogu], 1972, 51 lk.
About Andres Ehin
Täiskui: Andres Ehin. Koostaja Arne Merilai. Studia litteraria Estonica 12. Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus, 2012, 440 lk. [Artiklikogumik. Autorid: Andres Ehin, Ly Seppel, Kristiina Ehin, Valdur Mikita, Ain Kaalep, Madis Kõiv, Marju Lauristin, Jaan Kaplinski, Jüri Arrak, Peeter Tulviste, Patrick Cotter, Mathura, Erkki Luuk, Hellar Grabbi, Alice Ehin, Hasso Krull, Tiit Hennoste, Arne Merilai, Mart Velsker, Aare Pilv, Taimi Paves, Peet Lepik, Tuuli Kaalep, Märten Rattasepp; J. Malini personaalbibliograafia lk 349–438.]