Erkki Luuk

Erkki LuukPlays

Erkki Luuk (born 14. II 1971) is an Estonian writer of experimental literature, artist and researcher.

He was born in Tartu to a family of psychologists. He graduated from Miina Härma Gymnasium and studied sociology at the University of Tartu, in which he earned his master’s degree in 1994. He received his second master’s in semiotics in 2001 and his PhD from the Institute of General Linguistics of the University of Tartu in 2009 (with the thesis ‘The noun/verb and predicate/argument structures’). He has participated in several postdoctoral programs on general linguistics, mathematical logic and category theory in many European universities. He has previously worked as a programmer and lecturer at Tartu Art College. Currently, he is working as a specialist in the Chair of Natural Language Processing of the University of Tartu.

Luuk published his first poetry and prose text in the magazine Vikerkaar in 1996. From then, he published mostly poetry in the same magazine fairly regularly. In 1998, his play Pisikute elust (‘On the Life of Germs’) was published in the magazine Looming and in 2002, his prose book Ornitoloogi pealehakkamine (‘The Tenacity of an Ornithologist’) was released, which won the Betti Alver Debut Prize. In 2005, he published the nonexistent work ” “. Its presentation was announced to happen in the corridors of certain panel buildings of the Annelinn district in Tartu, but their addresses turned out to be nonexistent as well. The news of the presentation was covered by local newspaper Tartu Postimees. In 2008, the poetry collection Valitud luuletused (‘Selected Poems’) consisting of five booklets was published – Meie inseneriteaduse suurhäire (‘The Big Disorder of Our Engineering Science’), Kommunistlik revolutsioon Kuul (‘Communist Revolution on the Moon’), Paberteater (‘Paper Theater’), Präät ja Endil (‘Präät and Endil’) and Valgus tareaknas (‘Light in the House Window’). He has also co-written the prose work Tammeöö (‘Oak Night’) with c: (Tanel Rander). Since 2002, he has written continuously for the Tartu experimental literature magazine Vihik and in the anthologies Kangelasema toitepiim (‘Mother Heroine’s Royal Jelly’, 2006), Kius olla julge (‘The Spite to be Courageous’, 2011), Mitte-Tartu (‘Non-Tartu’, 2012), Olematute raamatute antoloogia (‘The Anthology of Non-existent Books’, 2014), Marie Underi sonetid (‘The Sonnets of Marie Under’, 2015) and Eesti luuleilm II (‘The World of Estonian Poetry II’, 2017).

Luuk uses conventional poetic and rhetoric techniques but dislocates, multiplies and stacks them, taking them to the extreme, which causes these techniques and words to lose their original function to the point of even syntactic connections falling apart. As a poet, Luuk explores the deepest basic structures of language and by dissolving them, presents them anew. Luuk has expressed his admiration for Ilmar Laaban, one of the founders of Estonian surrealist experimental poetry. The artist Kiwa has said that Luuk draws his inspiration from the “pre-surreal field”.

Luuk has been a key figure in the Tartu avantgarde creative scene by creating and preserving the eksp-network. Eksp is a group of people involved with interdisciplinary experimental works – anyone can join the group, which mostly communicates through a mailing list. Eksp became active after the publication of the 2006 anthology ‘Mother Heroine’s Royal Jelly’ and fell into inactivity in 2010, when Luuk focused on his research. Eksp, led by Luuk, has organized several performance art events, for example Rahvusvaheline konverents, teaduslik konverents (‘International Conference, Science Conference’), Inimlik pöög (‘Humane Pöög’), Tammeöö (‘Oak Night’), etc. Luuk has also organized many art exhibitions, often with Tanel Rander (ChanelDior, c:) and has dabbled in painting, video, sound and installation art.

In the end of 1990s and beginning of 2000s, Luuk was also a very productive publicist and critic, reviewing mostly sound art and music, but also wrote about literature, film, theater, fashion, culture policy, etc.

S. V. (Translated by A. S.)

Homepage of Erkki Luuk

Books in Estonian

Ornitoloogi pealehakkamine. Tallinn: Näo Kirik, 2002, 93 lk.
” “. Tartu: kuiv ebaarusaadavus, 2005,
Valitud luuletused. Tartu: ID Salong, 2008, 28+13+24+48+29 lk. [Sisaldab viit vihikut: ‘Meie inseneriteaduse suurhäire’, ‘Kommunistlik revolutsioon Kuul’, ‘Paberteater’, ‘Präät ja Endil’, ja ‘Valgus tareaknas’.]
Preester 2. – Olematute raamatute antoloogia. Koostanud Kiwa, toimetanud Jaak Tomberg. Tartu: Paranoia, 2014, 10 lk.
Erkki Luuk, c:, Tammeöö. Tartu: Tammeöö, 2012, 82 lk.