Valeeria Villandi

Valeeria Villandi (real name Valeria-Salme Villandi, 27 VIII 1924 – 31 XII 2021) was a poet and translator.

Villandi was born in Tallinn, completed secondary school in Tallinn in 1943 and entered the University of Tartu in 1944. Villandi graduated from Tartu State University in 1955 by distance learning as an Estonian philologist. From 1947–1952, she worked at the Estonian Literary Museum, from 1952–1954 was head of the culture department of the newspaper Edasi, from 1954–1964 head of the literature department of the magazine Noorus, and from 1964 a professional writer. From 1973, she worked for the journal Looming, initially as an editor and from 1982–1991 as secretary in charge. Valeeria Villandi was a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union from 1950 until her death in Tallinn in 2021.

Valeeria Villandi’s first poems appeared in the press in 1945. Her debut collection of poetry was Päikese ring (‘Sun Circle’) in 1957. She mediates the obligatory political themes and the compulsory optimistic tone of that time’s Soviet Union in a more personalised manner. Although her debut collection and the following poetry collection Kaja (‘Echo’, 1969) also contain lyrical nature poems, the argumentative and intellectual mode has been more characteristic of Villandi since the beginning. In the smoothly and naturally rhyming verses of the poetry collection Kaja, the author takes a worldly-wise look at the sorrows and joys of consecutive generations in the alternation of seasons. In 1974, Villandi published a poetry book for children, Hüpe homsesse (‘A Leap into Tomorrow). In the poetry collection Momentvõtted aegluubis (‘Snapshots in Slow Motion’, 2015), the aged author addresses the generation that was born nearly 70 later. She introduces the readers to memory pictures from the ordeals of World War II and the postwar time and unpretentiously simple pleasures.

Villandi translated poems and prose mainly from Russian and German. She rendered the short stories of the German writers Heinrich Böll and Erwin Strittmatter into Estonian.

Villandi compiled and edited poetry books for adults and children and translated film texts, including many animated cartoons of the peoples of the Soviet Union. Therefore, Villandi’s name is known to most Estonians whose childhood fell into the second half of the Soviet period.

L. P. (Translated by I. A.)

Books in Estonian

Päikese ring. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1957. 119 lk.
Kaja: värsse aastaist 1957–1967. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1969. 80 lk.
Hüpe homsesse. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1974. 64 lk.
Momentvõtted aegluubis. Luuletused 1968-2015. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2015. 89 lk.