Elo Viiding’s poetry (in her first three published collections she used the pseudonym Elo Vee) has undergone several sharp swings in form, yet her texts always remain recognizable and individual. In Viiding’s poetry one can speak of both modernism and post-modernism, and try to posit her texts in feminist discourse – after all, the poet seeks expression, attempts to contribute something important to the language while at the same time fighting it, intensifies the language, and also happens to be female. But she is also said to be writing beyond gender.
However, we can consider Viiding’s sometimes intolerably intensive poetry in a wider perspective. It seems that she perceives with extraordinary clarity the internal impulse of all kinds of need to create. This is the tension between the one who seeks expression and the surrounding social world. In Viiding’s mode the symbolic world always remains at least partly unintelligible, hostile, harassing. Viiding counters this with her weapon: words. Words band together into an army of weapons, and every word has in reserve a vial of antidote in its pocket.

Herself one of the most interesting poets of contemporary Estonia, Elo Viiding was born in 1974 in Tallinn into a dynasty of writers: her grandfather Paul Viiding also wrote prose beside poetry, but her father, the actor and dramatist Juhan Viiding, was one of the most innovative and inspiring poets of the nineteen-seventies. Elo Viiding has learned violin and has graduated as an actress from the Estonian Institute of Humanities.

Viiding’s debut took place early in the context of Estonian literature – the collection Telg (Axis) was published in 1990. It was followed by two collections of poetry at two-year intervals: Laeka lähedus (The Casket’s Closeness, 1993) and Võlavalgel (In the Light of Debt, 1995). A slightly longer pause followed, until 1998 when Viiding published a collection under her own name, entitled V. It clearly presented Viiding’s social irony, and on occasions even sarcasm. The collection is full of conceptual games with the same sign system, used by the poet in an attempt to diminish her own presence, which can still be sensed almost physically at moments of greatest illumination.

 As a writer, Viiding has a very strong and unusual opinion she expresses dramatically, very independently, with great mental freedom – and for freedom. She has also published collections of short stories or novelettes close to free verse in prose, Ingelheim in 1995 and Püha Maama (Saint Mama) in 2008. Ironical and very critical about society, the last one is about a woman saint of the present day. She has herself called her way of writing associative poetry, and as a key to her texts names terms from psychoanalysis.

Her poetry has been translated into English, German, French, Russian, Hungarian, Swedish, Finnish, and Viiding has translated poetry from other languages into Estonian.

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