Poems Merca


About Merca


Merca (given name Merle Jääger, b. 19. X 1965) is a poet and actress.

Merca was born and educated in Tallinn, and graduated from the Drama Faculty of the Tallinn State Conservatoire (now the Drama School of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre) in 1988. She has worked in various positions; since 1988 she has been (with an interval) an actress at the Vanemuine theatre. She has been a member of the Tallinn and Tartu NAK (Young Authors’ Association) and of the Wellesto literary society. She is a member of the Estonian Theatre Union (since 1990), ther Actors’ Union (1993) and the Writers’ Union (2000). She is a member of Tartu Town Council (as of 2021). She has won the Voldemar Panso prize (1988) and the Ants Lauter prize (1997), the Estonian Theatre Union award for a female leading role (1999) and for a secondary female role (2004), the title of Tartu Culture Bearer (2005) and the Karl Eduard Sööt prize for children’s poetry, for the work Mullivesi (‘Bubbly Water’, 2009).

One of the best-known figures of the Estonian punk movement, she began publishing poetry in periodicals in 1986. Her first collections were Merca by Air Mail and MercAmerka. Teine Ameerika-valimik (‘MercAmerka. A Second American Selection’, 1989). One is struck by the direct, at times brutal, socially critical attitude and the raucous note of her poetry. She mainly prefers rhyming poetry, applying an Estonian orthography in which, for example, ks=x, ü=y and ku=q. In the collection Vana libu hommik (‘An Old Whore’s Morning’, 1998) there is the sonnet sequence ‘Laulud Laurale’ (‘Songs for Laura’), which, with reference to Petrarch, skilfully intermingles high and low styles. Notes reminiscent of Heiti Talvik are found in the collection Hele häärber (‘Bright Manor’, 2005); poetry in the Setu language, including song lyrics created for the band Lõkõriq, are collected in Pühä päiv (‘Holy Day’, 2013). A survey of her work is provided in the selections Narrivile (‘Fool’s Whistle’ 2007) and Iseqnn (‘Sovereign’, 2020).

Having earned attention for several undertakings in public life (for example, a lively reaction to her service in the Estonian armed forces) Merca has emphasised her Setu roots and participation in Setu culture, an example of which is her collection of stories in Setu, Ollipanõhõpõpääle (2021).

A unique parallel work to Olavi Ruitlane’s novel about intimate relationships, Naine (‘Woman’, 2009) is Merca’s novel Mees (‘Man’, 2009), which gives a humorous take on different types of men.

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


Books in Estonian

Poetry collections
Merle Jääger, Merca by air mail: Ameerika valimik. Toronto: Maarjamaa, 1989, 61 lk.
Merle Jääger, MercAmerka: teine Ameerika-valimik. Ontario: Maarjamaa, 1989, 80 lk.
Vana libu hommik. Tartu: Eesti Kostabi Selts, 1998, 45 lk.
Hele häärber. Tartu: Vilep & Vallik, 2005, 117 lk.
Narrivile. Tallinn: Tänapäev, 2007, 106 lk.
Pühä päiv. Värska: Seto Instituut, 2013, 111 lk.
Iseqnn. Tartu: Jutupesa, 2020, 93 lk.

Mees. Tartu: A-Disain, 2009, 179 lk.

Jututulbad. Storypillars. Tartu: Fantaasia, 2015, 262 lk.
Ollipanõhõpõpääle. Uusvada: Seto Kiri, 2021, 134 lk.

Children’s literature
Mullivesi. Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2009, 37 lk.