Jüri Leesment

Jüri Leesment

Jüri Leesment (b. 5. III 1961) is a poet.

He was born in Jõgeva, educated at Suislepa in Viljandi county and in Jõgeva, studied in the Faculty of Philology at the State University of Tartu from 1979 to 1985, graduating in Estonian philology, specialising in literature. He has worked, among other jobs, as a director of the archive of the Tallinn University of Technology, an organiser of cultural events, a consultant to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and in the editorial offices of several publications. He has worked for Radio Free Europe. Since 1996 he is a freelance journalist. He joined the Writers’ Union in 2008.

Leesment, who made his debut in 1987 in the journal Vikerkaar, entered Estonian culture largely as the author of the words of songs of the reawakening time by Alo Mattiisen (1961-1996), which were part of the Singing Revolution, and by now have become symbolic of their time and acquired the status of classics – Eestlane olen ja eestlaseks jään (‘I’m an Estonian and Will Remain an Estonian’), Ei ole üksi ükski maa (‘No Land is Alone’), Kaunimad laulud (‘The Most Beautiful Songs’), Sind surmani (‘You Until Death’). His work from the eighties, mostly free verse, is compiled in the collection Vihm ei võõrasta (‘The Rain is Not Shy’, 1990), and the period from the late eighties to the mid-noughties is covered by the collection Saada mind kiusatusse (‘Lead Me into Temptation’, 2007), which is rich in the associations that are typical of Leesment, references to the classics of Estonian poetry and to folk poetry.

Together with Toomas Muru, Jüri Leesment has compiled the book Ajaga silmitsi (‘Face to Face with Time’, 2010), and with Paavo Kangur wrote the book Mässav vabaduslaulik (‘The Rebellious Bard of Freedom’, 2018), both of which concentrate on Alo Mattiisen.

Leesment was awarded the Order of the White Star, Class IV, in 2000, and the Stone of Gratitude on the Restoration of Independence, together with Alo Mattiisen in 2010. He is also chairman of the Council of the Alo Mattiisen Foundation.

A. K. (Translated by C. M.)

Books in Estonian

Poetry collections
Vihm ei võõrasta: valik tekste 1981-1987. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1990, 60 lk.
Saada mind kiusatusse: valik tekste 1988-2007. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2007, 71 lk.
Täna mängime elu. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2018, 84 lk.

About Jüri Leesment
Paavo Kangur, Jüri Leesment, Mässav vabaduslaulik: Jüri Leesmenti ja Alo Mattiiseni lugu. Tõrvandi: Inglisilla Produktsioon, 2018, 186 lk.