The work of the poet fs, formerly known as Francois Serpent (which is of course to be understood as a pseudonym) draws together the contemporary lines of power in Estonian poetry, while at the same time staying clearly distinct, standing out, and in some respects downright detached. The reason behind this is neither just an automatic avoidance of literary circles, nor is it his polished and decorous image, the hook and line of which gives some critics fits. However the reasons for fs’s detachedness are articulated in his frame of mind and expression, the bibliographic page of which is quite short. Poetry collections with black covers merit a more exact entry: Valgete kaantega raamat (Book With White Covers, 2000), dedicated to the singer of Joy Division, Ian Curtis, and 2004. The same year the latter won the poetry prize given by the Estonian Cultural Endowment, manifesting the social nature of his poetry, with its existential generalization and political views. Its title was inspired by George Orwell’s novel 1984.

Fs has the shortest writer’s name in Estonia, and his given name is Indrek Mesikepp. He was born in 1971 in Tartu. He graduated from Tartu University in 1999 as an art historian. He has been working at the literary monthly Looming since 2000, is a literary critic and has also written short prose. His pseudonym already has a history: it was first the glamorous François Snakesnake, inspired by the films of Pierre Richard, then first simplified to François Serpent, and finally the very short form of it.

fs is a poet sensitive to the times. His poems circulate perceptively in the present moment and in the modern landscape (in the majority of them there are landscapes of factories, desolate bedroom suburbs and wastelands of big cities). However they still don’t express fs’s social nerve directly, as a protest, a heartfelt social testimony, in an open war of words like many of his colleagues in Estonian poetry. Rather it has to do with the continuous repetition of an existentialist attitude to life which certainty isn’t jarringly special in itself. However what is special is the existentialist expression. First and foremost it is clear, short, simple, and direct, holding back a fireworks of metaphors and labyrinthine suggestions. This doesn’t mean that fs’s poetry is short of metaphors. However, they are never meant to be the goal, but rather the tools. fs's simple talk reminds one almost of speaking - which is something the author marks also in his performances, which are impressive, centripetal, though stopping short of flirting with the public. The poems themselves can be voluminous, though the lines which make them up are never yawningly long. In some respect something close to a miracle occurs: they speak sparingly, measuredly, with deliberately simple sentences and at times very powerfully, though the result is amazingly poetic and has the power of suggestion. In short: making poetry as speaking, though only where speaking is at the same time also making a speech.

Maybe a part of fs’s power of suggestion hides in the fact that he speaks of intimate things, without bloating them into an ungraspable generalization. Second, fs’s frame of mind is distinguished by something, which for the lack of a better work one could name the absence of illusions. This means an almost passionless gloom and hopelessness, which from time to time takes a bit of a theatrical pose. Still these poses don’t withdraw from a known self-restraint. Rather these poses, these vignettes of the frame of mind celebrate a certain testimony and acknowledgement of pain. In addition irony and also self-irony keeps this pain calm and intact. A humour grounded in simplicity as well as sugar-coating the gloom with the knowledge that between the cement and steel of the desolate dormitory suburbs of the big city one can find another defenselessly beating and feebly warm distinctive physical body which gives an explosive emotional charge to fs’s message, which is quite difficult to put into words and quite possibly not needed at all. Why put into words a rebuttal over honesty, loneliness, and defenselessness, a speech which speaks of and for itself?

 


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