Indrek Hirv is a true poet. Evidence of this lies in the fact that Hirv feels that poetry is the only way to make contact with the world. He has also worked in ceramics, but Hirv is better known as a poet – a virtuoso. The poet, who follows the traditions of Villon and Rilke in Estonian literature, is perfect, radiant and timeless, he is complete.

On the contemporary Estonian literary scene, where the word can represent the bearer of the message, but in most cases the word and its bearer are not inextricably linked, Hirv is a rare exception. He could be reproached for clinging to tradition and tending towards mannerism, but this would be to overlook the fact that Hirv’s poetry is consciously and profoundly intertwined with European poetry. He is a delicate and pliant branch of a mighty tree which grew out of the entwining shoots of Homer and Solomon. Hirv has never concealed this fact, complementing his own collections of poetry with translations of his favourite poets – François Villon, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Joseph Brodsky etc.

Hirv’s unusual attention to verse technique, his perfect syllable stress and rhyme have also attracted a different kind of criticism – that his esthetic perfection is accompanied by ethical obscurity or the complete lack of it. But does beauty always have to carry a message of sculptural clarity. Hirv’s elegant verse exudes a strange longing and melancholy which is not intended for the intellect but for intuition. Hirv’s words are not directed at time nor at history.

Hirv was born in 1956 into a family of artists, and graduated in 1981 from the Estonian Academy of Arts in ceramics. A porcelain painter and graphic artist, he has worked as an art school teacher in Tartu and a radio correspondent in Holland. He has been a passionate wanderer, lived in boat house in America and seen a lot of the Mediterranean. Since nineteen-nineties he is a professional writer.

The poet’s journey started in 1987 with the collection Uneraev (Dream Rage) and continued with an impressive stream of books, of which the closest to Hirv-like perfection was perhaps Tähekerjus (The Star Beggar, 1993). It was Hirv's sixth collection, a book of searching for and finding his poetical self. Into the iambic poems of this book there are concentrated the whole naked sadness and erotics, robed in metaphysics, of Hirv's poetry. The most repeated words are night, stars, sadness, but regardless of the romantic love of dark colours, the poetry of Hirv is clear-voiced and conscientious. It is like playing the piano, using only white keys, which the poet says to be divine. And Hirv's poems radiate religiousness too, but the only God the author of these poems worships masked as Pierrot, worships, is Beauty. Precision in shaping feelings into verses and free and natural elegance of figures. Not a word too many.
Although Hirv’s work has influenced a whole generation and generated more than one epigone, at the end of the nineteen-nineties his poetry seemed to be welling up behind some kind of dam – the form needed innovation, the message needed clarification. An unexpected breakthrough came with the collection Liblikate õhkkerge veri (Blood of Butterflies Light as Air, 2001), which introduced a new and unfamiliar Hirv. Rhyming in this collection has receded, and the message on occasions becomes aphoristic. Longing and abstract yet intoxicating love remain.
A strong religious axis, characteristic to his poetry, is obvious in his collection Ülalt valla (Open From Above, 2009). His rhytmic and rhimed poetry is fascinating also because of shifts in metre, lexicon, or the graphical vision.
In 2007 Hirv made his debut as a playwright. Indrek Hirv has translated poetry from Greek, Hebrew, German and French.


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