Leeuwarden UNESCO City of Literature is looking forward to welcome writer, translator and editor Carolina Pihelgas from UNESCO City of Literature Tartu, Estonia, as writer-in-residence in Leeuwarden this spring. We’d like to thank the 85 applicants from 21 Cities of Literature across the world for their interest in the residence.

About Carolina

Carolina Pihelgas is an Estonian writer, translator, and editor. She has published seven volumes of poetry, and in 2020 her selected poems appeared, titled “Tuul polnud enam kellegi vastu” (“The Wind Was Not Against Anyone Anymore”). Her poetry is dense, metaphorical, dealing often with themes of memory, nostalgia for lost worlds, and mythology. In 2022 she published her first novel “Vaadates ööd” (“Looking at Night”) to critical acclaim.

Her poetry translations include Constantine Cavafy, Sappho, Pablo Neruda, Tor Ulven, Ilya Kaminsky, and many others, and in 2020 she received the August Sang award for poetry translation. Her own poetry has been translated into more than fifteen languages and she has been featured in anthologies in Estonia and abroad. In 2020 Carolina was Tartu City Writer Laureate.

What is Carolina going to work on in Leeuwarden?

Carolina: “I am very glad to spend four weeks in Leeuwarden, writing and translating. Mainly I will continue working on my new poetry collection, which will focus on themes such as body and dissociation, memory and trauma, nature and stillness. In addition to writing, I also translate poetry, and I am very interested in getting to know Dutch, but especially Frisian poetry better. And if possible, maybe with the help of local poet(s), attempt some translations. There would be a possibility to publish the translations in Estonia, in literary journal Looming, where I work as an editor. The only Frisian poet we’ve published so far in Looming, is Nyk de Vries, but I’m sure there are more wonderful poets to meet either on the page, or in person.”

Tartu European Capital of Culture in 2024 

Tryntsje van der Steege, project leader at Leeuwarden UNESCO City of Literature: “We were pleasantly surprised with the overwhelming number of applications from so many very passionate, creative and promising writers, from all continents. With Carolina we are bringing an ambitious and broadly oriented author to Leeuwarden who we would like to introduce to her Dutch and Frisian colleagues. Maybe they will tell about their experiences in 2018, when Leeuwarden was European Capital of Culture, because Tartu will hold this title next year, in 2024.”

photo: Ruudu Rahumaru