Estonian poet Kristiina Ehin's The Scent of your Shadow is one of the 'Visible Poets' series from Arc. The poems are selected from a collection written after the birth of her child, Emapuhkus (2009), and made a resounding impact on the bilingual Estonian translator Ilmar Lehtpere who claims
to have begun to understand what it means be a woman, to be a mother after translating the poems. As a child of Estonian refugees, Ilmar Lehtpere has access to Estonia through the culture and language. The act of translating Ehin's work is an act of repatriation, of recovery of an identity and personal history
only a stone's throw away from Kristiina's flat. The friendship and intimacy between translator and poet is perfectly tuned to creating a texture of voice that belongs to Ehin and yet is not quite Ehin:
I hear Kristiina's voice in my head and listen to her reading what I have written. If it sounds natural, if it sounds like her, I know it is right.
Ehin's voice through translation is a trustworthy voice steeped in the residue of Estonian history. Folksong traditions permeate the poems without detracting from the lived human experience. Ehin's themes emerge from her sense of becoming a mother and defender of her child in a landscape familiar and ever-changing:
Six of Kristiina Ehin's poems were published in MPT 3/9, 'Palestine', and a further seven in 3/13, 'Transplants'. We shall publish a pamphlet of new poems by her, translated by Ilmar Lehtpere, as the second of our MPT Poets Series in April.