Helvi Jürisson

Helvi Jürisson

Helvi Jürisson (real name from 1953 Helvi Volkonskaja, from 1962 Helvi Soans, 5 X 1928 – 16. IX 2023) was a poet, translator and children’s writer.

Jürisson was born in Tallinn, spent her childhood in Kuressaare and completed secondary school in Tallinn in 1947. Thereafter, from 1947–1953, she studied medicine at the University of Tartu. She graduated specialising in pulmonology and worked from 1953–1954 at a tuberculosis hospital in Moscow. Thereafter, she worked at different Estonian hospitals until retirement in 1985. She was a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union from 1972. She was the mother of the actor, musician and writer Peeter Volkonski (b. 1954) and the writer and journalist Kerttu Soans-Tammisto (b. 1961).

Jürisson made her debut in the journal Looming in 1956 and published her first poetry collection in 1961. She mostly wrote meditational poetry on love and nature, heartfelt verses and short prose for children, but she also repeatedly spoke out on social themes in her verses.  Some bitterness can often be felt in her poetry; therefore, critics have noticed a similarity with Mats Traat’s lyricism. As performed by Joel Steinfeldt from 1987, the song Mägra maja (‘Badger’s House’), created to the words of a poem by Jürisson, became famous all over Estonia. During the new national awakening in the Estonian SSR, it was perceived as an allegory which expressed opposition to Russification caused by massive immigration.

Jürisson’s books for children and young adults have been translated into Bulgarian, Finnish, Lithuanian and Polish. Helvi Jürisson translated poetry from Bulgarian, French, Latvian, Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian into Estonian. In 2001, Helvi Jürisson was awarded the Order of the White Star of the Medal Class of the Republic of Estonia.

L. P. (Translated by I. A.)

Books in Estonian

Mägedes sünnivad pilved. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1961. 100 lk.      
Puu silmapiiril: luuletusi 1960–1965. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1966. 100 lk.
Rohelised leed: luuletusi 1966–1970. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1971. 80 lk.
Inimhäälele: luuletusi 1971–1975. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1977. 64 lk.
Ilmapuu varjus: luulet 1954–1982. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1983. 232 lk.
… ja pikkamisi roheldub maailm: luuletusi 1982–1987. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1989. 85 lk.
Sinine kivi. Tallinn: Varrak, 1998. 87 lk.
Selle ilma kõlakojas: luuletusi 1998–2012. Tallinn: Varrak, 2013. 106 lk.

Poetry for children
Päike võttis kiirtekannu. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1963. 30 lk.
Nukuraamat. Tallinn: Kunst, 1967. 16 lk.
Rähn rätsepaks. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1967. 18 lk. [Värssjutustus.]
Sputnikute nääriöö. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1967. 24 lk. [Värssjutustus koolieelikutele ja nooremale koolieale.]
Tedretähestik. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1970. 17 lk.
Kas sa tunned seda teed. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1971. 44 lk.
Ahvi trahvimine: luuletusi lastele. Tallinn: Valgus, 1976. 32 lk.
Igaühel oma pesa: luuletusi lastele. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1978. 64 lk.
Loomalaulud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1987. 47 lk.
Mägra maja. Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2007. 61 lk.
Kõrv peos. Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2010. 26 lk.

Children’s stories
Putukajutud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1983. 49 lk.
Peegliplika. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1989. 92 lk.
Mida tähed räägivad: lasteluuletused ja jutud. Valikkogu. Tallinn: Menu Meedia, 2018. 182 lk.