Igor Kotjuh is a publisher, translator, cultural mediator, and also founder and active promoter of Russian-Estonian literature as a unified literary movement. In addition to all of this, he is a remarkable poet in both Estonian and Russian.
Kotjuh, who has Ukrainian roots, was born in Võru in Southern Estonia in 1978 and studied Estonian language and literature at the University of Tartu. He is the founder and editor of Kite Publishing and the oblaka.ee Russian-Estonian literary portal. Kotjuh pens essays and literary reviews, translates and introduces contemporary Russian literature to Estonia, and vice-versa. He has been called an author who, perched at and upon the brink of two cultures, possesses a heightened sense for creative differences that lie between the Estonian and local Russian-language cultural spaces; as well as someone who perceives the opportunities for widening and overcoming these borders. Kotjuh is a bridge-builder both as a creator and an intermediary.
Kotjuh’s debut work was the Russian-language Когда наступит завтра? (When Will Tomorrow Come? 2005), and his first Estonian-language poetry collection was Teises keeles (In Another Language, 2007).
From the very beginning, Kotjuh has been called a social-lyrical poet who is European in terms of verse. He is interested in poetry’s reader – in how much the reader and the poet can have in common (i.e. his collection Попытка партнерства (An Attempt at Partnership)). Kotjuh’s poetry is minimalist, rationally pensive, and characterized by his own invented genre of “esseem” – poetry and essay in symbiosis. A clear and balanced point of view stands as a constant throughout his works.
Kotjuh has received several important awards in Estonia. In 2011, he received the Young Cultural Figure Award from the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, and in 2014, he won the Cultural Endowment of Estonia’s Award for Poetry.
Kotjuh’s poetry has been translated into Arabic, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, English, Bulgarian, French, Latvian, Romanian, Italian, and German. He is a member of the Estonia Writers’ Union and on the director’s board of Estonian PEN.