‘Indian culture is a magical world,’ says Estonian poet Doris Kareva

PTI | | Posted by Lingamgunta Nirmitha Rao
Feb 06, 2023 01:25 PM IST

Honoured by the Estonian government in 2001 with the 'Estonian Order of the White Star, Kareva has translated the works of Rumi and Kabir from English into Estonian and said she has been greatly influenced by Sufi tradition and mysticism.

Influenced by Rabindranath Tagore since she was just 14, Estonian poet Doris Kareva says Indian culture is a magical world and the country a never ending adventure with every visit showing up something she had not even imagined.

Doris Kareva at Jaipur Literature Festival (source:Twitter/@Estonia_in_IN)
Doris Kareva at Jaipur Literature Festival (source:Twitter/@Estonia_in_IN)

Also Read | Report: Jaipur Literature Festival 2023

We're now on WhatsApp. Click to join.

Kareva, 64, has been to India four times, the fulfilment of a childhood dream, and each time has been a surprise.

“I have come to India four times, starting from 2013 or maybe even earlier... India is not just a country but seems like a whole continent. It's so mysterious. Every time I visit different parts of India, I meet different people - it's a never ending adventure for me," Kareva told PTI.

Also Read | English poetry book “Facade” penned by Ludhiana girl released

“Tagore was my favourite poet at the age of 14 and I always wanted to come to India. Every time, I see something that I had not even imagined. Every time, this country surprises me,” the poet and translator, who was in India recently to participate in the Jaipur Literature Festival, said.

Honoured by the Estonian government in 2001 with the 'Estonian Order of the White Star, Kareva has translated the works of Rumi and Kabir from English into Estonian and said she has been greatly influenced by Sufi tradition and mysticism.

“Indian culture is a magical world,” she said,

“The translations of Tagore's poems into Estonian by poet and philosopher Uku Masing are mesmerising. These poems are like a ritual dance or a song,” she added.

Among contemporary Indian poets, Kareva likes the poetry of Teji Grover and Rustam Singh. Both are close friends now and she has also translated their poems from English to Estonian. In 2022, Rajkamal Prakashan published a collection of Kareva's poetry, "The Fire That Does Not Burn", translated by Teji Grover and Rustam Singh.

Born in 1958 in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, to a composer father, Hillar Kareva, Doris Kareva was expelled from university for her rebellious views, but went on to graduate in distance learning with a bachelor's degree in Romanic languages.

Her works have been translated into more than 20 languages and, due to their musicality, often put to music or performed on stage.

Kareva has translated into Estonian the works of Shakespeare, Rumi, Emily Dickinson, Anna Akhmatova, Kabir, Kahlil Gibran and Samuel Beckett among many others.

Kareva, the author of two collections in English, “Shape of Time” and “Days of Grace”, was the secretary general of the Estonian National Commission for UNESCO between 1992 and 2008.

Poetry, she said, is the essence of her language.

“Estonia is a country with a population of about one million. Our identity is very strongly linked to our language. The Estonian language has deep roots as the language of the native ethnic people is connected to our landscape, the voices of sea, wind, rivers and forests. We are proud of our music and the uniqueness of our culture.”

Discussing her work, she said there is no particular subject in her poems.

“I started writing about life, love and death from a very young age.”

Kareva also dwelt at length on the status of women in her country, saying they are generally very well educated and actively involved in the social world.

“Women in Estonia are often artists or scientists, doctors, lawyers, teachers... But still there is a difference in the pay scale. There are some problems but women are leading the way."

Kareva described Estonia's Prime Minister Kaja Kallas as a very efficient young woman and pointed out that the previous president, Kersti Kaljulaid, was also a young and strong woman with a vision.

According to a report by Estonian World, Estonia, which shares its eastern border with Russia, has hosted 62,000 Ukrainian refugees, more than any other country in the European Union as a share of population since the start of the Ukraine war.

“The Estonian state is doing a lot. People are doing all they can. People are collecting and sending money, medical devices, blankets, warm clothes, flashlights, candles, whatever is needed. People are organising concerts and charity events to support Ukraine, translating Ukrainian literature into Estonian and Estonian literature into Ukrainian, providing necessities, including books for children living in refugee camps, sewing masking nets for the soldiers...”

Kareva also has a message for her readers: “What matters most? Wisdom of the heart - kindness and respect for all living beings.”

"Exciting news! Hindustan Times is now on WhatsApp Channels Subscribe today by clicking the link and stay updated with the latest news!" Click here!
Get Latest India News along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world
Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, September 30, 2023
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals