Guntars Godiņš

Photo by Raitis Puriņš /Diena/


The Latvian poet and translator of Finnish and Estonian literatures, Guntars Godiņš, was born in 1958. He studied Latvian literature and language at the University of Latvia and completed advanced studies in Finnish language and culture at Helsinki University.

His first poetry collection “Tas nepasacītais” (That Left Unsaid) was published in 1985. This book as well as the next, “Ar atpakaļejošu datumu” (Dated Retroactively) 1989, were heavily censored by the Soviet authorities. At that time Godiņš was writing sharp, ironic anti Soviet poetry. He was also working in the literature section of Latvian radio and was editor of the popular magazine “Avots” (The Well).

His next collection “Ēnu nesējs” (Shadow Bearer) and “Nakts saule” (Nocturnal Sun), marked a new departure. In particular in Nocturnal Sun he explored inner monologues and dialogues as poetry. A poetry book "CV" was published in 2008.

Godiņš is one of the most active translators of Estonian and Finnish literature in Latvia and his translations include collections of Estonian and Finnish folk songs, as well as numerous works by contemporary Estonian and Finnish poets. He has also written numerous articles about Estonian and Finnish literature. A collection of his poetry has been published in Estonia and his work has been translated into many languages, including English, French, German, Swedish, Finnish, Russian and Thai. He has been an invited guest to numerous poetry festivals in Sweden, England, Lithuania, Finland and Thailand as has he received both Estonian and Nordic awards for his work.
He was the cultural attaché at the Latvian Embassy in Estonia (1997-2009). Guntars Godiņš is the author and manager of the project Dzejas brauciens (Poetry Tour). Unlike other poetry festivals the Tour is a festival on the move: it usually has several stops, Latvia, Estonia and Finland. Currently, Godiņš is the editor of the literary magazine Latvju Teksti (Latvian Writings); he also translates Estonian literature.

Godiņš received the Ojārs Vācietis Literary Award (1993), the Poetry Days Award (2003, 2005), the Annual Literature Prize (2002, 2012), the Jānis Baltvilks Children’s Book and Book Art Award (2013), among others.