Keel ja Kirjandus (May 2024)

Eesti tanka. Levik, autorid, temaatika ja vormilahendused

  • Heili Hani

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 67, no. 5
pp. 411 – 431


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"Estonian tanka: Prevalence, authors, themes and forms". The primary aim is to provide an overview of the evolution of the Estonian tanka genre, to delineate the requirements of its classical form and style, and to analyze its proliferation within Estonian literature. Tanka poems have been published since 1917, with their prevalence expanding notably in the 1960s and persisting to the present day. A total of 76 tankas writers have contributed 1296 tankas to the collection. In addition, there are 34 student authors featured in school almanacs. It is noteworthy that this poetic form has attracted a diverse range of authors, from amateurs to established writers. Over time, both the form and themes of tanka poetry have evolved, encompassing varied approaches to poem construction, from line arrangement to graphic design. At the same time, the subject matter has broadened from the human experience and the experience of nature to almost all aspects of human life, including social critique and expressions of sexuality. Prominent authors in this genre include Minni Nurme, Ain Kaalep, Jaan Kaplinski, and Mats Traat. The concise nature of tanka poetry has led writers to craft more condensed and precise compositions, often leveraging the compounding and wordplay inherent in the Estonian language. This genre allows authors to imbue their work with rich layers of meaning using minimal words. This results in a dense textual experience.