Märt Väljataga


About Märt Väljataga


Märt Väljataga (born 30 March 1965) is a translator, critic, literary scholar and poet.

Väljataga was born and attended school in Tallinn and studied Estonian philology at Tartu State University. He has upgraded his education at Indiana University in Bloomington in the USA, lectured at several universities, worked for the literary journal Vikerkaar, being its chief editor from 1995. Väljataga has been a member of the supervisory board of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and its Literature Endowment, of the Cultural Foundation of the President of the Republic of Estonia and of the Estonian Public Broadcasting Council. A member of Tartu Young Authors’ Association, Wellesto literary association and the Estonian Writers’ Union (from 1992).

Väljataga entered literature in the 1980s with poetry translations and poems published in the press. His first collection Teine keel (‘Another Language’) appeared in the poetry cassette Kassett ‘88 (‘Cassette ‘88) together with Karl Martin Sinijärv, Tõnu Trubetsky and Ringo Ringvee in 1989. His poetry follows the rules of poetics and is noticeable for its intellectuality. The poetic and technical potential of poetry is combined in the experimental sonnet machine Sada tuhat miljardit millenniumisonetti (‘A Hundred Thousand Billion Millennial Sonnets’, 2000).

Väljataga is notable as a fruitful translator mainly from English; he is exacting in both form and content. He has translated into Estonian W. H. Auden’s, Charles Baudelaire’s, W. B. Yeats’, Bertolt Brecht’s, Ted Hughes’ and Jaan Kaplinski’s poetry, Charles Taylor’s, Bernard Williams’, Nelson Goodman’s, D. W. Hamlyn’s, Roger Scruton’s, William James’, Michael Walzer’s, Richard Rorty’s, Simon Blackburn’s, David Hume’s, Thomas Nagel’s, Ernest Nagel’s and James R. Newman’s philosophical works and Edwin A. Abbott’s novel Flatland. Väljataga has also published scholarly articles, literary criticism and essays.

He has received the Order of the White Star, class V (2001), the scholarship Ela ja sära (‘Live and Shine’) (2012), the Locomotive of Culture honorary title of the newspaper Postimees for organising the publication of the Avatud Eesti Raamat (‘Open Estonia Book’) series and editing the journal Vikerkaar (2009), Tallinn University Literary Award for the translations of Vladimir Nabokov’s short stories The Vane Sisters and Signs and Symbols (2012), Literature Endowment Annual Award for the translation of Wystan Hugh Auden’s 39 luuletust ja 5 esseed (‘39 Poems and 5 Essays’, 2012), Väike inglise luule antoloogia (‘Small Anthology of English Poetry’) and the poetry collection Gladioolid (‘Gladioli’, 2018), the Ants Oras Criticism Award (2020) and the August Sang Poetry Translation Award for the translation of Philip Larkin’s Vers de société (2021).

A. K. (Translated by I. A.)

Books in Estonian

Poetry collections
Teine keel. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1989, 46 lk
Sada tuhat miljardit millenniumisonetti. Tallinn: Vagabund, 2000, 37 lk

Gladioolid. Sonetid, luuletused, juhuluuletused, järelluuletused. Tallinn: EKSA, 2018, 198 lk

Kirjandus ja selle liigid: gümnaasiumiõpik. Tallinn: Maurus, 2014, 163 lk