Hando Runnel


Short stories



About Hando Runnel

Hando Runnel (b. 24. XI 1938 in Järvamaa County) is an Estonian poet and essayist, who has published numerous collections of poetry for both children and adults. In Runnel’s poetry a significant part is played by the influence of rhymed Estonian folk-song as well as runic verse (regivärss), with plenty of word- and sound-play, and much irony and sarcasm; the poetics of the bawdy ballad and real ethical and existential themes exist side by side. As a background to his patriotic stance and his appreciation of national identity, there are motifs from rural and village life, as well as the everyday environment and social criticism. Runnel’s poetry has been regarded as a significant cultural opposition and a carrier of meanings between the lines in the Soviet period. The singing quality and the national characteristics that are present in a large proportion of Runnel’s poetry as well as the harmonisation of themes and motifs with a collective sense of identity have made him one of the most lyricised Estonian poets.
Born into a farming family, Runnel got his primary education at Jalgsema, Järva-Jaani and Ambla primary schools; later he attended Secondary School number 1 in Tartu and Paide Secondary School. From 1957 to 1962 he studied agronomy at the Estonian Agricultural Academy, but did not complete his studies. From 1966 to 1971 he worked in Tallinn as the head of the department of essays and articles at the journal Looming, later working as a professional writer in Tartu. In 1969 he became a member of the Writers’ Union, he has also taken part in the management of the union and running its office. Following the re-establishment of Estonian independence he was a member of the Congress of Estonia, and belonged to the Constitutional Assembly. In 1992 Runnel set up the Ilmamaa publishing house in Tartu; he was one of the initiators of the idea for the Eesti mõttelugu (‘Story of Estonian Thought’) series, and since 1995 has been the editor-in-chief of the series. Runnel is also a member of the Uku Masing Board, which researches the legacy of the author Uku Masing and prepares it for publication. From 1992 to 1993 he was the first invited Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of Tartu; in 2012 he was elected as an academician of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, in the field of literature. Runnel has been awarded the Order of the National Coat of Arms, IV Class (1997), the Order of the White Star, II Class (2006) and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Estonian National Culture Foundation of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, as well as several literature prizes, including the Eduard Vilde Prize for Literature (1966 and 1989), the literary award of the A. H. Tammsaare collective farm (1989), the Juhan Liiv Poetry Prize (1993) and the Gustav Suits Poetry Prize (2007).
Runnel’s debut was in 1963 with a poem published in the journal Looming; his first collection Maa lapsed (‘Children of the Land’) appeared in 1965 on the poetry cassette Noored autorid III  (‘Young Authors III’), followed by Laulud tüdrukuga (‘Songs with a Girl’, 1967). If a central place in the first collections is taken by the poeticisation of rural life and the village environment, from the collection Avalikud laulud (‘Public Songs’, 1970) onward an existential dimension opened up, and a conflict deepened between the attitudes of the poet-ego and the current social order. Runnel’s poetry of the nineteen-seventies and eighties reflect the pressures of his time, an ever-deepening existential anguish and a feeling of tragedy, while serious themes may take the forms of alliteration and doggerel. His patriotic stance, mingled with a disillusionment arising from social pressures, is expressed especially strongly in a collection published in 1982, Punaste õhtute purpur (‘The Purple of Red Nights’), which it was forbidden to publicly review at the time of publication. His later production also takes up patriotic themes, with a sense of nationality and cultural responsibility, but also with social criticism, motifs from everyday life and love poetry.

Runnel has also written poetry for children, notable for its memorable sound-poetry and motifs familiar from poetry for adults, picked out with themes accessible to a child’s eye.
Besides his poetic works Runnel has published plenty of literary criticism and essays, and compiled many collections of poetry and essays by other authors. The central theme of his essays is literature, but also the Estonian language and thought-world more generally; the most extensive manifestation of Runnel’s non-literary work is a collection called Jooksu pealt suudeldud (‘Kissed on the Run’, 1998) in the series ‘Story of Estonian Thought’.
M. U. (Translated by C. M.)

Books in Estonian

Maa lapsed: Luuletusi 1960-1964. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1965, 56 lk. [Sari ‘Noored autorid’.]
Laulud tüdrukuga. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1967,  96 lk.
Avalikud laulud. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1970, 78 lk.
Lauluraamat ehk Mõõganeelaja ehk Kurbade kaitseks. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1972, 120 lk.
Mõru ning mööduja. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1976, 56 lk.
Kodu-käija. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1978, 216 lk.
Punaste õhtute purpur. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1982, 104 lk. [2. trükk: 2008.]
Laulud Eestiaegsetele meestele. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1988, 59 lk.
Kiikajon ja kaalepuu. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1991, 142 lk.
Oli kevad, oli suvi. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1992, 156 lk.
Üle Alpide: Aastatuhande lõpulaulud. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 1997, 271 lk.
Haruldused: Luuletused ja pildid. Tallinn: SE & JS, 1998, 13 lk.
Mõistatused. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2000, 63 lk.
Omad. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2002, 109 lk.
Õpetussõnad. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2003, 63 lk.
Sinamu. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2005, 95 lk.
Viru veri ei värise: Armastuse laulud. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2006, 71 lk.
Armukahi. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2008, 79 lk.
Videvik. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2009, 71 lk.
Reebuse rahvas, ehk, Piltlaulud, ehk, Sõnad kadunud. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2010, 158 lk.
Ütles mu naine. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2010, 158 lk.
Tähed tahavad sõnaks. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2011, 285 lk.
Kui nagu nagu, kui nagu kui, ehk, Kui kui nagu, kui kui kui. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2012, 96 lk.
Maakoore pehmenemine. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2013, 132 lk.
Vanad sõbrad. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2015, 202 lk.
Tuul tantsib toome okstes. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2016, 110 lk.
Jaanipäevaks kõrgeks kasvab rohi. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2018, 95 pp.
Vee peal käimine keelatud. Tallinn: Kultuurileht (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 2011, 118, lk.
Poems and stories for children
Miks ja miks: Värsid väikestele ja suurtele lastele. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1973, 33 lk.
Mere ääres, metsa taga: Värsid suurtele ja väikestele lastele. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1977, 45 lk.
Mõtelda on mõnus. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1982, 48 lk.
Juturaamat: Keskmisele koolieale. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1986, 45 lk.
Taadi tütar: Laulud noorema kooliea küpsemale astmele. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1989, 69 lk.
Suureks saamine: Laste laulud ammu ja homme. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2004, 231 lk.
Kits läks kiideldes mäele. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2010, 71 lk.
Põrsapõli. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2013, 77 lk.
Jaanus Andreus Nooremb ehk Madis Kõiv, Hando Runnel, Küüni täitmine. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 1998, 103 lk.

Ei hõbedat, kulda. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1984, 311 lk.
Mõõk ja peegel. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1988, 150 lk.
Isamaavajadus. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1991, 124 lk.
Jooksu pealt suudeldud. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 1998, 559 lk.
Väravahingede kriiksumist kuulnud: Mõisteline sõnastik autori elu- ja loominguloo juurde. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2008, 307 lk.
Hingedeaeg: Mõtted ja märkmed. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2016, 308 lk.
Ükskord oli üks mees. Toimetanud Katre Ligi; illustratsioonid: Hando Runnel. Tallinn: Hea Lugu, 2018, 207 lk. [Mälestusi kaasteelistest eesti kirjandusmaastikult.]