Translation of Marie Under`s biography and poetry into English User's  Sirje Kiin project in the category Print

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Marie Under (1883-1980) was the Estonian Goethe, our most influential poet of 20th century. Under was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature thirty times after the Second World War, but never won it. Many speculate that this was because Estonia was occupied by the soviets and she was a political refugee in Sweden. Others have argued that there were not enough good translations of her poetry in other languages. We can now, finally, let the world know how great a poet Marie Under was and how her extraordinary life reflected the dramatic destiny of her nation.

I spent 20 years studying Marie Under`s life and poetry and published, in 2009, a complete biography: “Marie Under. Life, Identity of the Poet and Reception of Poetry”. This book was nominated for the 2010 Estonian state cultural award and for the Virumaa cultural award. In 2011, it received the Swedish Under-Adson Foundation literary award. Also in 2011, I published a second edition that focused more heavily on Under’s biography with less emphasis on a literary-scientific analysis of the reception of her poetry. This version is currently being translated into Russian. What remains to be done, however, is the most important foreign version of this work: a version in English. Over two billion people speak and read English and the number rises steadily each day. This translation will make the true story of Under’s genius and courage available to those who, up ‘til now, have not been aware of her imaginative poetry and very moving life story.

The well-known international publisher Peter Lang has stated its readiness publish this book in English once a translation is available, and this is why I need your help. A shortened version of my book, focused only on Under’s life and translations of her poetry, will require at least half a year of work by two translators, but could be ready as soon as the summer of 2014.

This project requires financial support of 13000 euros (8000 for translation of biographical text; 3000 for translation of poetry; 1350 for author review and sponsor awards; 650 for Hooandja fees). This project will be open for sponsor contributions for 8 weeks.

Two very experienced translators are ready to translate the book into English: 60 pages of poetry will be translated by the best English translator of Estonian poetry, Ilmar Lehtpere, who has won several British cultural awards. Lehtpere’s translations were used in the 2012 Olympics cultural programs ( The biographical text will be translated by Evi Evart, an Estonian-American educated in the USA, who worked many years as a cultural journalist for Radio Free Europe in Munich. Evart has written, in English, a book about Estonia’s brilliant novelist Anton Hansen Tammsaare.

Awards: All sponsors will be thanked in the beginning of the book. Those who contribute 50 euros or more will receive copies signed by me. Those who contribute 250 euros or more will be invited to the release of the book in Estonia.

Please help take the story of Marie Under`s life and poetry to the world stage!

Sirje Kiin, PhD

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