Kärt Hellerma

About Kärt Hellerma


Kärt Hellerma (née Tõnisson; 9 November 1956) is a prose writer, poet, critic and journalist.

Hellerma was born and attended school in Tallinn and studied journalism at Tartu State University. She has worked for several press publications, been an editor on television, later a freelancer. She is a member of the Estonian Association of Journalists and from 2002 a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union.

From the second half of the 1970s, Hellerma has published criticism and articles, from the early 1990s fiction in the press. As characteristic of Hellerma, her debut novel Alkeemia (‘Alchemy’, 1997) concentrates on the theme of the woman and her viewpoints, analysing the man-woman relations against the background of social changes in the 1990s. A sensitive female character who struggles with both personal and social relations can be found in the novel Kassandra (‘Cassandra’, 2000). Hellerma’s third novel Koer ja kuu ehk Seitse päeva jaanuaris (‘The Dog and the Moon or Seven Days in January’, 2018) takes a look at the life of four people in the early 2010s. The novel entwines reality and unreality, explores collective and individual memory.

The problems of being a woman, relations between men and women, acute observation and analysis of the society also occupy the central place in Hellerma’s short prose, for example, in the collections Ma armastasin David Copperfieldi (‘I Loved David Copperfield’, 2007) and Unenäoliiv (‘Dream Sand’, 2011). A story from the latter, Mängumeri (‘Toy Sea’) received the August Gailit Short Story Award in 2013. The prose collection Üks päev minu ema elust (‘One Day from My Mother’s Life’, 2021) is based on autobiographical material from the author’s childhood and youth, but it also looks at present-day themes.

Her travelogues have been collected into books written at writers’ residential centres, Sinine missa (‘Blue Mass’, 2008) and Islandi kiri (‘Letter from Iceland’, 2014). Travelling and living at different places and environments have also provided inspiration for internal journeys and sharp-sighted reflections typical of Hellerma.

Social and cultural criticism, pictures capturing the era and language rich in images are also characteristic of Hellerma’s poetry. Her first poetry collection Seniitvalgus (‘Zenith Light’) appeared in 2014, and new collections have followed almost every year.

Literary criticism and essays have been published in the collections Kohanenud kirjandus (‘Accustomed Literature’, 2006), Avanenud ruum (‘Opened Space’, 2016) and Medusa juuksed (‘Medusa’s Hair’, 2018). In criticism, too, her own theme is predominant – the central place belongs to the problems of women, society and cultural criticism, changes in time and value judgments, and maladjustment.

In 1994, Hellerma received the film criticism award of the journal Teater. Muusika. Kino and in 1996, the annual literature award of the newspaper Kultuurileht (from 1997 known as Sirp).

A. K. (Translated by I. A.)

Books in Estonian

Alkeemia. Tallinn: Tuum, 1997, 168 lk [järgmised trükid: 2000]
Kassandra. Tallinn: Hotger, 2000, 214 lk
Koer ja kuu ehk Seitse päeva jaanuaris. Tallinn: Tuum, 2018, 359 lk

Short prose
Ma armastasin David Copperfieldi. Tallinn: Tuum, 2007, 156 lk
Unenäoliiv: novelle ja proosapalu 2005-2011. Tallinn: NyNorden, 2011, 166 lk
Koidula käsi: novelle ja jutte 2011-2019. Tallinn: Tuum, 2020, 216 lk
Üks päev minu ema elust: autobiograafilisi lugusid. Tallinn: Hea Lugu, 2021, 157 lk

Poetry collections
Seniitvalgus: paraluulet 2013-2014. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2014, 155 lk
Hümn pikale ninale: paraluulet II (2014-2015). Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2015, 166 lk
Hõbeda laulud: luulet 2015-2016. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2016, 142 lk
Autogramm: 101 luuletust: 2016-2017. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2018, 194 lk
Päeva lõpus: luulet 2018-2019. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2019, 119 lk

Books for children
Õrnad kõrvad. Tallinn: Ajakirjade Kirjastus, 2010, 63 lk
Taevarändurid ja teisi jutte. Tallinn: Ajakirjade Kirjastus, 2012, 72 lk
Poiss ja kaja. Tallinn: TEA, 2014, 23 lk
Pupi ja salakäik. Tallinn: Päike ja Pilv, 2015, 37 lk
Mütside sõda ja teisi jutte. Tallinn: Hea Lugu, 2018, 208 lk
Lugu tüdrukust, kes kartis kööki; Lugu poisist, kes tahtis olla puuris. Tallinn: Tänapäev, 2021, 106 lk

Sinine missa: valik reisikirju. Tallinn: Tuum, 2008, 351 lk [2. tr 2022]
Islandi kiri. Tallinn: NyNorden, 2014, 212 lk

Essays and articles
Kohanenud kirjandus: valik kirjanduskriitikat 1987-2006. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2006, 206 lk
Avanenud ruum: artikleid ja esseid 1991-2006. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2016, 279 lk
Medusa juuksed: artikleid, esseid, arvustusi, ettekandeid, intervjuusid, mõtisklusi 1988-2018. Tallinn: EKSA, 2018, 566 lk