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head read tanavu

This year's festival's main stage at the Kirjanike Maja (Estonian Writers' Union Building) musta laega saal – black ceiling hall.   Photo: festival designer Kärt Kukkur

Every year at the end of May since 2010, the MTÜ (mitte-/tulundus/ühing, non-profit organization) HeadRead hosts the international literary festival of the same name in Tallinn. This year it runs from 22. - 26. mai and all of its wonderful nitty-gritty, guests and topics, will be unveiled to you upon HEADing to

Head means good in the plural. HEA laps (good kid), HEAD lapsed (good kids). Read are lines, in the plural. Or rows. Sõdurite RIDA (singular) = a row of soldiers, luuletuste READ (pl.) =  lines of poetry. So in local speak, the name of the festival means "Good Lines".

Prolific translator and member of the festival's organizing committee Krista Kaer has said that everyone receives (and is a part of) the sum, there are no main speakers or HEADliners at this festival. But there are HEAD mõtted (good thoughts), even though Tartu is officially "Heade mõtete linn", the city of good thoughts. They sent some loodesse (north-west) for this event.

Good lines that you read with your head – the name works so well! And the A-s in the name double as the pitched rooftops of Tallinn's Old Town to boot. Wishing you inspiration and HEAD pidu, HÄID ridu – a good party and good lines.

(Häid is like in "Häid pühi!" – Happy holidays; head in the accusative case, plural (osastav, keda? mida?). Fear not the 14 cases, they are tame enough.

Riina Kindlam, Tallinn


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