Ilmar LAABAN (Sweden)
Ilmar Laaban (1921, Tallinn, Estonia – 2000, Hagersten, Sweden) – poet, performer, translator. Studied Philology at Tartu University (Romance and Germanic department) and Musical Composition at Tallinn State Conservatory. When the pro-fascist regime got established in Estonia in 1943, Laaban, trying to avoid military service, moved to Sweden where he continued studying Philology and Philosophy at Stockholm University. His poetic views were shaped under the influence of the new French literature, in particular, dadaism and, to a greater extent, surrealism. The first book of poems written in 1943-45 was published in Stockholm: Ankruketi lôpp on lalu algus (Ankarkättingens slut är sångens början) (Stockholm: Norrmalmstryckeriet, 1946). He is the author of numerous articles, translations, editor and member of Editorial Boards of such magazines as Prisma (1948-50), Salamander (1955-56), Nutida Music (ñ 1957), and also of one of the leading Swedish literary editions Odyssé (1953-55). In this very magazine Ö. Fahlström (1928-76), the key figure in the Swedish experimental poetry, in 1954 published his first manifesto of concrete poetry (later it was reproduced in the M. E. Solt’s anthology Concrete poetry: A world view (Bloomington, In: Indiana University Press, 1968). Laaban published a great number of translations of articles and poems of the French-speaking poets, including such as A. Artaud, P. Celan, A. Breton and others; in 1948 in collaboration with E. Lindegren he published the anthology of French poetry “19 Moderna franska poeter” (Stockholm). In his translations and articles he paid much attention to the alternative trends of the international poetry, which, in its turn, served as the information base for Swedish poets. He was one of the first to publish a detailed review on the lettrist manifesto by I. Isou called “Introduction à une nouvelle poésie et une nouvelle musique”(Gallimard, 1947) in the magazine “Prisma” (#2, 1948). Literature historians point out Laaban’s significant impact on the development of the circle of Swedish sound poets, and also on the formation of text-sound composition movement, represented by the “Fylkingen” group. He participated in a large number of international festivals of sound poetry, including the ones in Sweden, France, Great Britain, Finland, Switzerland, Italy and others; he also made dozens of recordings and releases on various radio stations, held poetry performances in galleries, museums in Sweden and abroad. He stopped performing in public in 1995 because of health problems. The retrospective exhibition “Ilmar Laaban 75 years” (curator T. Hultberg) dedicated to Laaban’s 75th birthday was held at Liljevalchs Konsthall (Stockholm), and in 1998 a book “Ankarkättingens slut är sångens början” (+CD) devoted to Laaban’s creative activities was published by Fylkingen/Kalejdoskop publishing house and comprised of poems and sound poems of the 1944-93. His poetry and sound poetry productions are presented in the following anthologies: Poesie Sonore Internationale (2 MCs, Paris, 1979), The Pioneers. Five Text-Sound Artists (Stockholm: Phono Suecia, 1992), Literally Speaking /on sound poetry & text-sound composition (Göteborg: Bo Ejeby Förlag, 1993) and others. Ilmar Laaban died in 2000 in Hagersten, Sweden.