Literary Festival Prima Vista will soon begin in Tartu

Press Release

3 May 2023

Tartu International Literary Festival Prima Vista 

Tartu International Literary Festival Prima Vista takes place from May 8-13. The theme of this year’s festival, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary, is “The Impossible Dream,” and the patron is writer Mehis Heinsaar. The festival’s grand opening takes place on May 9 at 4 PM at the Tartu University Library. That choice of theme invites us to think among other things of the role of imagination and the ability to imagine and picture things seemingly behind the horizon of familiarity and feasibility, especially in our present time of crisis and conflict. The genuine place of wishing, thinking of the impossible, and imagining the impossible is literature. The impossible may appear here in uncountable and different forms – starting from a thorough glimpse of a better world and finishing with quaintness hidden in the smallest shape, refreshing the mind and enriching the spirit.

Prima Vista 2023, The Day of Books and Roses. Photo: Uku Peterson

Among the foreign guests participating in Prima Vista are Jenny Erpenbeck from Germany, Hans Platzgumer from Austria, Anni Kytömäki from Finland, Clara Amaral from Portugal, and David Hartley from the United Kingdom. The festival also welcomes back some old friends who have previously performed here or been writers-in-residence in Tartu, such as American beat poet Ron Whitehead, English poet Andy Willoughby, and Scottish poet Penny Boxall. Latvian poets Anna Belkovska, Lote Vilma Vītiņa and Marija Luīze Meļķe, as well as Lithuanian prose writer Gina Viliūnė and poet Marius Povilas Martynenko will also be attending the festival. Estonian writers participating in the festival include Ly Seppel-Ehin, Toomas Kiho, Indrek Hargla, and Tartu’s current city writer Mart Kivastik.

The festival’s Russian literature program focuses on authors who write in Russian but have been living in other countries for years: Rimma Markova from Sweden will meet with readers, and from Israel comes the well-known poet, essayist, and translator Linor Goralik, who will present her literary project ROAR (Resistance and Russian Oppositional Arts Review) at the festival. Local Russian writers will also be participating in the festival, including Andrei Ivanov and Jelena Skulskaja, both of whom are laureates of the Estonian Cultural Endowment, and Ekaterina Velmezova, a professor at Tartu and Lausanne universities, with Estonian-Russian and Russian-Estonian translations.

At the corner of Town Hall Square and Rüütli Street the Embassy of Utopia will open its doors during the festival, where anyone can give a 5-minute speech about their longing for something different and thus become part of Estonian literary history. A collective work will be created from the speeches after the event. Participating writers include Mehis Heinsaar, Maarja Pärtna, Hans Platzgumer (Austria), Cloud Circuit (Canada), Clara Amaral (Portugal), and many others.  The Embassy of Utopia is one of the pre-events of the Prima Vista 2024 ” Futures Better and Worse” literature festival, which is part of the main program of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024. Registration: More information about the project can be found on the festival website.

As part of the Prima Vista festival, supported by Creative Europe, a poetry program involving cultural and scientific institutions from Estonia, Finland, Belgium, Poland, Austria, and Spain will take place in collaboration with the AHHAA Science Center. This collaboration brings together poets from Estonia, Lithuania, Belgium, and Italy for the festival.

This year, the partner city of Prima Vista is Paide, and on May 6th, everyone is invited to the Paide Music and Theatre House, where the host is Kai Väärtnõu, the recipient of the title  Book Lover 2022. Literature enthusiasts can enjoy a book fair, book presentations, poetry, creative, and music classes. The 2022 Estonian Poetry Slam champion, Mari-Liis Müürsepp, will perform. The Wittenstein Activity Museum and Paide Theatre Studio will help enrich the imagination, and the smallest ones are invited to see Miksteater’s production “Võti.” In the evening at 6 pm, the audience can meet the patron of Prima Vista, Mehis Heinsaar, joined by Lauri Sommer and Kristel Mägedi. After that, Dr. Ormusson (Igor Kotjuh) and the experimental poetry and sound group Cloud Circuit from Canada will perform.

The festival program also includes several established traditions, including a book fair in Town Hall Square, a “Living Library” for young people, a young authors’ evening Literature With Spark literary and cultural history walks, and a concert Writers in Music, where this time two ensembles will perform – Hans Platzgumer’s Convertible and the Estonian writers and actors group Alla Puugovitsa. As always, during the festival, the TarSlämm final will take place, the Elektriteater will offer a film program, and exhibitions related to this year’s festival theme will be displayed at the Tartu University Library and Tartu City Library, some of which are already open.

The festival will conclude with the Insomniacathon, a 24-hour cultural marathon starting on Saturday morning, which offers a variety of events and performances and also celebrates Prima Vista’s twentieth anniversary.

Events and authors are introduced on the Prima Vista website at, as well as on Prima Vista’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

The Prima Vista Literature Festival is organized by the NGO Kirjandusfestival Prima Vista, founded by the University of Tartu Library, Tartu Public Library, Tartu Department of the Estonian Writers’ Union, and the Estonian Literary Society.

More information:

Marja Unt

Prima Vista Program Director

Phone: +372 5690 6836