Eda Ahi (b. 1990) is one of the most masterful Estonian poets of her generation, and is a phenomenon among her peers. Her works are characterized by precise style, the use of rhyme, and graceful, effortless rhythm. The thrilling poetry of Ahi’s first collections, which brim with wordplay, has been called vital and optimistic in a manner reminiscent of The Decameron. The highly unique nature of her poetry expresses something that is true to the very core of Estonia’s great poetic tradition.

Ahi’s debut collection Maskiball (Masquerade) received the 2012 Betti Alver Award for Literary Debut. Born to a bilingual Russian-Estonian family in Tallinn, the poet is very fond of Russian literature, and signs of this affection flicker in her works. Still, she regards the classic Betti Alver – Estonia’s greatest virtuoso of literary form – as her most important influence.

After graduating from Tallinn University with a bachelor’s degree in Romance languages and culture, then from the University of Tartu with a master’s degree in EU-Russian studies, Ahi has worked as a diplomat in Ukraine. She is a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union, and has also translated poetry and prose from Italian and poetry from Russian into Estonian.

Departing from the mischievous cheerfulness of her first collections, Ahi’s fourth work – Sadam (Harbor, 2017) – is more serious, reflective, and sometimes even bitter. Even so, her dazzling grasp on language, which is enchantingly rich in imagery and somehow naturally, but also intriguingly, aesthetic, remains strong. Ahi’s poetry surprises at every turn. This can be explained firstly by her linguistic creativity, and secondly, the poet’s wordplay is never without depth of meaning. Ahi’s ability to astonish is never limited exclusively to the linguistic level. The ideas that serve as inspiration for her poems, often coming from a completely unexpected angle, appear to coax the wordplay into existence.

Ahi’s poetic voice has strengthened with every new collection. On the one hand, she is intrigued by the sheer scale of human emotion – observing herself as a young and curious being –  and conveys this in a playful, inquisitive way. On the other hand, deep at the center of her focus is, sometimes ironically, but often with unconcealed concern, that, which is going on in the greater world at the present moment. Her third poetry collection, Julgeolek (Security, 2014), reflects this in the very title. 

Ahi’s collection Sõda ja rahutus (War and Perturbation, 2018) was awarded the Estonian Cultural Endowment’s Award for Poetry.

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