- Toms Harjo
Kārlis Vērdiņš is a poet, translator and scholar. Vērdiņš has translated the poetry of W.B. Yeats, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson to Latvian. His most important research is devoted to Latvian prose and poetry and gender and queer issues in Latvian culture.
Vērdiņš is one of Latvia’s best-known poets; he has written poetry for both adults and children, and has participated in many musical and cultural projects. Vērdiņš’ poetry can be regarded as gentle, vivid and intimate; it often reveals uncomfortable truths in a piercing, playful, highly relatable way. Some of his themes include love, sex, coming to terms with oneself; all of which he writes about with a great deal of compassion, wit, and irony.
Vērdiņš’ poetry for both adults and children is often very funny. For example, in Dad, his collection of poems for children, he describes very openly and directly a somewhat irresponsible father’s driving habits and the things he does in his free time.Often Vērdiņš writes with humour and irony about the status of poets and other intellectuals in society and the difficulties his generation experienced growing up.
Humour and irony are themes in Vērdiņš’ poetry, both in content, but also in form, where he wittily plays with different forms of discourse, starting with folk songs and ending with modern means of communication. This method is especially evident in his collection Me, in which Vērdiņš, inspired by his studies, literature and cultural history, dedicates many of his poems to famous cultural celebrities or literary heroes. Still one of his greatest talents is his ability to change – with the release of every new collection, Vērdiņš always comes up with something new and as yet unseen in Latvian literature.