Viiu Härm (b. 3. VII 1944) is an Estonian poet, actress, translator, and nature photographer.
She was born in Tallinn to a workers` family. She studied at Tallinn 29th Primary School (1951–1958), Tallinn 7th Secondary School (1958–1962), and at the Performing Arts Faculty of the Tallinn State Conservatoire (1962–1965). She was featured in the films Õhtust hommikuni ('From Evening to Morning', 1962), Ühe katuse all ('Under One Roof', 1963), Tütarlaps mustas ('The Girl in Black', 1967), and Lõppematu päev ('Endless Day', 1971), as well as in television productions. Härm was one of the founding members of the Estonian Youth Theatre and worked there until she had to quit for health reasons in 1971. From then on, she worked as a freelancer. She has been a member of the Estonian Theatre Union since 1966 and the Estonian Writers' Union since 1979. In 1990, she was one of the founding members of the Estonian Liberal Democratic Party and a member of the Reform Party after it merged with the ELDP.
Härm debuted with her poetry in periodicals as was common in those times - the youth newspaper Säde and the journal Noorus; she later consistently published her work in the journal Looming. She is known first and foremost as a poet, but at the very least, she considers herself just as much an actress. Härm has called poetry her inner voice. She has published personal collections and participated in joint ones; she has also staged poetry readings, and, being an actress, often performed poetry, including on several recordings. Between 1997 and 1998, she chose and read poems on nightly broadcast Ainult üks luuletus ('Only One Poem') on the Estonian TV channel Kanal 2.
Be it for children or adults, nature plays an important role in Härm’s poetry. She herself has stated that water is the symbol closest to her. In addition to nature, Härm has placed emphasis on childhood, a peaceful life, and unconditional love. She prefers rhymed quatrains.
She has published two novels, which could figuratively be connected even though their stories are different - Duubel kaks: nüüd, kus ma midagi ei küsi... ('Take Two: Now That I Do Not Ask Anything...', 2000) and Õhuaken ('Transom Window', 2004). Both feature a young girl as the protagonist and focus on her growth and experiences. For the latter, Härm received the Eduard Vilde Literary Prize in 2005.
She compiled a poetry collection by Marie Under, Laternaks mu enda süda ('The Lantern is My Own Heart', 2006), and wrote its foreword. She also translated verses for Läti uuema luule valimik ('New Poetry from Latvia', 1997) as well as for Astrid and Ivar Ivask’s joint collection Rändav järv ('Traveling Lake', 2002) from Latvian. Additionally, she has translated plays from Russian (Leonid Zhuhovitsky's 'Among the Angels, Anton Chekhov's 'The Cherry Orchard', and Aleksei Arbuzov's 'Years of Wandering').
Härm weaves poetry and picture together in her work. For example, she completed the book Sina, jõgi ('You, River', 1984) with the photographer Peeter Tooming and Valge vaikus ('The White Silence', 1979), a collection of poetic nature reflections, with Tooming and the artist Ants Säde. Recently, Härm has focused on nature photography by herself. In 2017, she won awards both on the photo contest Pilvepiir and by the magazine Eesti Loodus. The same year, her exhibit of nature photos Lähedal ('Close') was opened in Kõpu Lighthouse and at the A. H. Tammsaare Museum in Tallinn.
Härm's husband is the poet and politician Paul-Eerik Rummo. They have published a collection of poetry together - a tête-bêche book Avamaastik / Kusagil tuksub mu süda ('My Heart Beats Somewhere', 1989) and have also written the libretto and lyrics for the musical 'Oliver and Jennifer' (1972) and the play Körged, körged Köpu mäged ('The Tall, Tall Hills of Kõpu', 2000).
M. K. (Translated by M. M.)
Books in Estonian
Pealkirjata. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1973, 55 lk.
Luuletusi, lugusid ja midagi ka Margareetast. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1978, 192 lk.
Viiu Härm, Peeter Tooming, Ants Säde, Valge vaikus. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1979, 34 lk.
Viiu Härm, Peeter Tooming, Sina, jõgi. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1984, 95 lk.
Viiu Härm, Avamaastik; Paul-Eerik Rummo, Kusagil tuksub süda. Toronto: Maarjamaa, 1989, 16 lk. [Tirelraamat.]
Keegi teeline. Tallinn: Varrak, 2004, 724 lk.
Duubel kaks: nüüd, kus ma midagi ei küsi.... Tallinn: Varrak, 2000, 280 lk.
Õhuaken. Tallinn: Varrak, 2004, 280 lk.
Oh sind tüdrukut. Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2009, 39 lk.
Pallimäng. Tallinn: Tammerraamat, 2017, 32 lk.