Kaur Riismaa – a poet, actor, and playwright born in Tartu in 1986 – began posting his works in online literature portals when he was a student. His first collection titled Me hommikud, me päevad, õhtud, ööd (Our Mornings, Our Days, Evenings, Nights, 2011) was selected as that year’s best debut work, engrossing readers with the young author’s fluid storytelling ability and his gift for character invention. Riismaa himself has called the collection a “play in thirty-three monologues”, in which characters from somewhere in mythical Europe also act. One cannot fail to name Riismaa’s highly-influential role model – the Estonian poet and novelist Mats Traat. Woven into Traat’s own Histories from Harala are threads to works by the late American poet Edgar Lee Masters. Riismaa joined the Estonian Writers’ Union in 2012.

“Theatre” is an important keyword in Riismaa’s writing: having studied dramaturgy at the Estonian Music and Theatre Academy’s School of Drama for several years, he has also penned plays performed at a number of Estonian theatres.

Riismaa’s fifth and sixth poetry collections Teekond päeva lõppu (Journey to the End of the Day) and Merimetsa won him the Cultural Endowment of Estonia’s 2014 Award for Literature. One review remarked that each of his poems comprises an entire novel. It was only a matter of time before his poetry-stories finally wove together into a lengthier form while simultaneously maintaining their poetic sensitivity and empathy. Riismaa published his debut novel in 2015: the poetic short work Püha mägi (The Holy Mountain), which has been called a unique auto-parody and a literary game. That same year, he won the Tänapäev Publishers Novel Competition with his second novel, Pimeda mehe aiad (Gardens of a Blind Man). The protagonist of this latter impressionist novel is a man, who has a remarkable ability to see into others’ minds.

Riismaa´s novel Väike Ferdinand (Little Ferdinand, 2019) was nominated for the European Union Prize for Literature in 2020.

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