Paul-Eerik Rummo

PoemsPaul-Eerik Rummo

Short stories


About Paul-Eerik Rummo

Paul-Eerik Rummo (born 19. I 1942) is a poet and playwright, one of the most prominent authors in the Estonian literature of the nineteen-sixties. He has also published children’s books, literary criticism and translations. His father, Paul Rummo, was also an author.

Paul-Eerik Rummo was born in Tallinn, graduated from Tallinn 2nd Secondary School and thereafter, in 1965, from Tartu State University, specializing in Estonian literature. After a short period working at the Vanemuine Theatre in Tartu, and since doing his military service, he has lived mainly in Tallinn. He was a freelance writer and also worked at the Tallinn Drama Theatre. Since the second half of the nineteen-eighties Rummo has participated in political life; he is a member of the Estonian Reform Party; has repeatedly been elected to parliament; from 1992 to 1994 he was the Minister of Culture and Education of the Republic of Estonia; from 2003 to 2007 he was a Minister of Population and Ethnic Affairs. Paul-Eerik Rummo is married to the writer and actress Viiu Härm.
Rummo’s first collection Ankruhiivaja (‘The Anchor-weigher’, 1962) attracted attention for its youthful optimism and lyricism, augmented in subsequent collections by tragic notes which had a personal background, but also mingled with folk motifs. These tendencies culminated in the third collection Lumevalgus … lumepimedus (‘Snow Light … Snow Darkness’, 1966), which was to become one of the best known works of its time. This book offers a synthesis of the preceding classical poetic tradition with contemporary modernist poetry. By the late nineteen-sixties Rummo’s poetry became more radical and markedly more modernist. A manuscript was prepared, Saatja aadress ja teised luuletused 1968-1972 (‘Sender’s Address and Other Poems 1968-1972’), which, however, did not appear in the nineteen-seventies for political reasons; the whole volume was published in 1989. This collection was characterized by an abandonment of his earlier metaphorical stance, a tendency toward prose and a conceptual approach to literary creation. In parallel with this collection Rummo was writing song lyrics, which were circulating as folk-songs. The impetus for the changes in Rummo’s verse at the time came partly from English- and Finnish-language poetry (T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Paavo Haavikko, Tuomas Anhava and others) which he has also translated into Estonian.
After the preparation of Saatja aadress, which remained in manuscript, Rummo’s poetic creation continued, but there were fewer new poems, and as a rule they appeared together with older texts, in volumes of selected and collected verses. There were no great changes in his writing; the free-verse style he had found in Saatja aadress continued, with minor variations.
Since the end of the nineteen-sixties Rummo has written several plays, the first of which have become a fixture in the background of the theatre innovation by the Estonian avant-garde. Rummo’s Tuhkatriinumäng (‘Cinderellagame’) became the best-known play of the sixties in Estonia, appearing in print in 1969 and on the stage at the Vanemuine Theatre in Tartu. It is a re-working of the well-known fairy-tale, in which the Prince, the main character, has come to the castle at the start of the play in search of the ‘real’ Cinderella. In this search can be seen a model of human existence; and many political interpretations of the work have been offered. Tuhkatriinumäng was translated into English and staged at La Mama Theatre in New York in 1971. In 1968 Rummo wrote the plays Pseudopus and Kotkast – Prometheust (‘Eagle, Prometheus’), which harmonized with the spirit of renewal in drama at the time. They were published later, in the journal Looming in 1980. Rummo has continued as a playwright; among his more recent plays, Valguse pōik (‘Light Cross Street’, 1993) and Taevast sajab kōikseaeg kive (‘It Keeps Raining Stones from the Sky’, 2016) have won the annual Estonian drama awards.
Besides poetry and drama for adults, Rummo has written various works for children over the years. Works that are important for changing the course of Estonian children’s literature are the experimental collection of children’s verse Lugemik, lugemiki (1974) and the book of playful retellings of fairy-tales Kokku kolm juttu (‘Three Tales Altogether’, 1975).
M. V. (Translated by C. M.)

Works in Estonian

Ankruhiivaja: luuletusi 1959–1962. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1962, 54 lk. [Luulekassett ‘Noored autorid 1962’.]
Tule ikka mu rõõmude juurde: teine vihik luuletusi. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1964, 80 lk.  
Paul-Eerik Rummo, Lumevalgus … lumepimedus; Enn Vetemaa, Lumesõda. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1966, 46 lk. [Tirelraamat.]
Luulet 1960–1967. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1968, 136 lk.  
Ajapinde ajab: luulet, juhuluulet, laulusõnu ja muud eri aegadest. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1985, 176 lk.
Oo et sädemeid kiljuks mu hing: valitud luulet 1957–1984. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1985, 280 lk.
Saatja aadress ja teised luuletused 1968–1972. Tallinn: Kupar, 1989, 112 lk.  
Luuletused. Tallinn: Kupar, 1999, 320 lk.  
Kohvikumuusikat. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2001, 68 lk.
Kogutud luule. Tallinn: SE & JS, 2005, 416 lk.  
Tuhkatriinumäng: 6 pildis. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1969, 60 lk. [2. trükk: 1992.]
Pseudopus. Looming, nr 9, 1980, lk 1252-1269.
Kotkast – Prometheust. Looming, nr 9, 1980, lk 1270-1277.
Valguse põik. Lavastatud teatris Ugala, 1993.
Taevast sajab kõikseaeg kive: anakronistlik capriccio kahes vaatuses. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2016, 118 lk.  

Essays and literary criticism
Kuldnokk kõnnib: jooksvast kirjandusest 1964–2009. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2010, 608 lk. [Sari ‘Eesti mõttelugu’, 91.]

Children’s literature
Lugemik, lugemiki. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1974, 32 lk. [Luule.]
Kokku kolm juttu. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1975, 26 lk. [Proosa.]
Värvilind. Tallinn: Perioodika, 1981, 24 lk. [Piltjutustus.]
Vigurilood: lugemik, lugemiki. Tallinn: TEA, 2006, 40 lk. [Luule. Sari ‘Lapse oma luuleraamat’.]
Lakkhundikese jutud. Tallinn: TEA, 2008, 48 lk. [Proosa. Sari ‘TEA lasteraamatute varalaegas’.]
Kui lähed teele koidu eel. Tallinn: TEA, 2008. 56 lk. [Luule ja proosa. Sari ‘TEA lasteraamatute varalaegas’.]
Aknalaua Juss ja sõbrad: jõulunäidend. Tallinn: TEA, 2008, 40 lk.
Siil Liis ja teised siilid: jutte ja jutukesi. Tallinn: TEA, 2010, 38 lk. [Sari ‘TEA lasteraamatute varalaegas’.]
Tihane tõstab tiibu: luuletusi lastele. Tallinn: Tammeraamat, 2017, 120 lk.
Kui hunt veel inimene oli. Jutte lastele. Pildid teinud Kaido Ole. Tallinn: Tammerraamat, 2019, 117 lk.
Kuningas, kurgid, Quercus. Juhuslik raamatuke määratlemata vanuses õpilastele. Tallinn: Reaali Kirjastus, 2019, 61 lk.