EANC Henrik Visnapuu Award for Arts & Letters

The Estonian American National Council (EANC) is pleased to announce the re-establishment of the Henrik Visnapuu literature and culture award

Named in celebration of the beloved Estonian poet best known for his writings that expressed such love for his homeland of Estonia, the Visnapuu literary award was first established in the United States in 1952. The tradition temporarily came to an end in 2007 with the passing of its founders. The ERKÜ Visnapuu Auhind (EANC Visnapuu Award for Arts and Letters) will be awarded biannually, with the winner announced on January 2nd every other year. The first award was bestowed in 2022 (See below). The EANC Henrik Visnapuu Award recognizes outstanding achievement in literature, prose or poetry, the arts, scholarly works, lifetime achievement, etc. in the realm of Estonia / the Estonian diaspora.

Elin Toona 2021 2

Winner of the Henrik Visnapuu Award 2021 is Author Elin Toona

Recognized for her life-time work as both an Estonian and English-language writer whose works explore the experience of exile and refugee life abroad, in the context of a young Estonian forced to flee her homeland due to the Soviet invasion of the country in 1944.
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Scholar Sirje Kiin introduces the EANC Henrik Visnapuu Award for Arts & Letters (ESTO|Raiser 2021 Fundraiser & Cultural Event, Sept 25, 2021; interviewed by Andy Valvur)

The purpose of the award is to introduce and showcase Estonia to the world, while also informing the public and community about the mission and the work of the Estonian American National Council in the realm of the preservation, promotion and fostering of the Estonian language and culture abroad

The original Visnapuu literary award was instituted by the Worldwide Estonian Literary Society after Henrik Visnapuu´s death in New York, in 1951. The Henrik Visnapuu Foundation was established for purposes of the award on October 21, 1952. The first contribution from Sweden originated from the proceeds of the Henrik Visnapuu memorial and from royalties earned from Visnapuu´s posthumously published memoirs, Päike ja jõgi. Since 1991 managers of the Visnapuu Foundation have included architect Herk Visnapuu and his family, Andres Visnapuu, Elmar Tampõld, Tõnu Parming and Mardi Valgemäe.

Visnapuu Award winners from 1952 – 2007 can be found listed in Wikipedia; until the early 1990s almost all award winners were expatriate Estonian writers, starting with August Mälk, Marie Under, and Karl Ristikivi, all the way to Elin Toona and Helga Nõu. 1983 was an exception, when the award was given to Annus Rävala (Helmut Tarand), who lived in Estonia, for his work ´Vorkuta värssid.´ Arved Viirlaid, Arvo Mägi and Bernard Kangro all received the Visnapuu award repeatedly. Upon the restoration of Estonian independence, the award was also bestowed on authors living in Estonia, including poet Hando Runnel in 1993, and historian Mart Laar (for his biography of Jakob Hurt, and other works) in 1997.


Nominees for 2021