Tartu City of Literature Nordic-Baltic Residency


Residency opportunity for writers connected to Cities of Literature in the Nordic-Baltic region: Gothenburg, Kuhmo, Lillehammer, Reykjavik or Vilnius

Tartu UNESCO City of Literature is happy to announce a special residency program for writers from the Cities of Literature in the Nordic-Baltic region: Gothenburg, Kuhmo, Lillehammer, Reykjavik and Vilnius. 


Supported by the Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme for Culture, Tartu City of Literature will offer 2-month residencies for five writers who live in the abovementioned cities or are otherwise closely connected to them (please see below). We are able to host one resident at a time during the following periods:


December 2023-January 2024
February-March 2024
June-July 2024
August-September 2024
January-February 2025


Deadline for applications: 23. October 2023
The results will be announced by November 1st.


Creative contribution
The participants of this residency program will be asked to write a letter addressed to the next resident, each consecutive resident will then refer to the letter received, reflect on it, and also address the next participant (and the last participant will write a letter to the first one thus completing the circle). This part of the program aims to connect the residents more to each other and to appreciate the art of letter-writing, endangered in the present world of rushing and short communication forms. The letters can be written either in English or in the mother language of the residents, they will then be translated into English as well as into Estonian and once the program is completed, the letters will be published in a multilingual booklet


What we offer


  • Free accommodation at the Karl Ristikivi residency apartment
  • A stipend of €2000 for the residency period
  • A commission of €500 for writing the letter
  • Reimbursement of travel costs up to €250
  • A monthly bus pass for Tartu public transport
  • A contact person responsible for making arrangements for performances, meetings and tours and helps to engage in the local literary life





  • Upper intermediate level of spoken English or Estonian
  • At least one published book (fiction or non-fiction), screenplay or theatre script by the applicant
  • Interest in Estonian culture and literature
  • Readiness to participate in the local literary life, including events, meetings, interviews, and festivals
  • Literary work during the residency
  • Willingness to contribute to the project by writing a letter about the residency experience and agreeing to include it in the booklet that will be published by the Estonian Literary Society in 2025
  • Connection to one of UNESCO Cities of Literature in the Nordic-Baltic region: Gothenburg, Kuhmo, Lillehammer, Reykjavik and Vilnius - it can be the current or former place of residence, work or study, a strong connection via the applicant's creative work, city of origin etc. A recommendation letter for the focal point of the respective City of Literature can be added but this is not compulsory
  • The candidate cannot be residing in Estonia while applying for the residency
  • The candidate must have a permanent address in one of the Nordic or Baltic countries



Required documents


  • Online application form AVAILABLE HERE
  • Fragment (up to 5 pages) of a published text (in Estonian or English)  to be sent to the address eks@kirjandus.ee; please make sure that the email includes your full name as it is written in the application form.



Selection process
The residents will be selected by a committee of 4 consisting of the representatives of the Estonian Literary Society (coordinating organisation of Tartu City of Literature), the Tartu Department of the Estonian Writers Union, the Estonian Literary Museum and the Karl Ristikivi Society. 


About our City of Literature
Tartu is the second largest town of Estonia but is widely considered its intellectual capital – vitally significant in developing the educational system, culture, science and literature in the Estonian language. Several literary festivals take place in Tartu annually as well as many regular events including poetry slams, literary cafés, Literary Tuesdays at Tartu Literature House etc. In 2015 Tartu was designated UNESCO City of Literature which has further enhanced the vibrant literary scene and helped us to build many new intercultural connections. In 2017 Tartu City of Literature launched its first residency program; since then Tartu has already hosted six writers-in-residence: Andrej Tomažin from Slovenia, Darran Anderson from Ireland, Gabi Csutak from Hungary,  Ron Whitehead from the USA, Andy Willoughby from the UK and Olena Huseinova from Ukraine. 


The aim of our residency programs is to increase international exchange and communication, contribute to the mobility of writers and translators, offer a creative and inspiring environment, and provide writers an opportunity to introduce their work to Estonian readers. Supporting the mobility of creators and expanding international literary communication are amobg the key objectives of our current strategy as a City of Literature. 


The residency programs are coordinated by the Estonian Literary Society in cooperation with the Tartu Department of the Estonian Writers Union and in partnership with various other literary institutions.


The residency apartment
The residents will be accommodated in the former Karl Ristikivi Museum. Karl Ristikivi (1912–1977) was a renowned Estonian writer whose works are considered among the core texts of the 20th-century Estonian prose. The apartment, owned by the City of Tartu and managed by the Estonian Literary Society, was his last residence in Estonia before his exile in Sweden in 1943. The historical atmosphere of the apartment has been preserved but all modern facilities are available. The gas-heated apartment (bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom and an exhibition room dedicated to Ristikivi) is on the first floor of the two-story house in a quiet residential district not far from the city centre. The administrative support (guidelines for using the facilities in the apartment, providing extra facilities if needed etc.) will be offered by the Estonian Literary Society.


Frequently asked questions
Q: How strict is the length and schedule of the residency - do I need to arrive on the 1st date of the month and leave exactly 2 months later?
A: While the residency should be around 2 months there is some flexibility in scheduling; arriving a couple of days later or departing a couple of days earlier wouldn’t be a problem.


Q: Do I have to be in Tartu the whole time or can I travel to other places in Estonia?
A: We encourage discovering the whole country so you can spend some time travelling around or staying in other cities; unfortunately, we cannot cover the costs of travelling to other places.


Q: Can I come with my partner or family?
A: The apartment is big enough to accommodate a family. Although residency projects are often a way of getting some rest from everyday matters, we completely understand if you choose to come with your partner or family or have them visit for some time. Please note however that we only provide the reimbursement of travel expenses to the residents. 


Q: If I choose the residency period of December 2023-January 2024, can I go home for the holidays or bring my family over?
A: Yes.


The Estonian Literary Society has received funding for residential visits from the Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme for Culture to establish this residency program.


Additional information:
Marja Unt
Estonian Literary Society/Tartu UNESCO City of Literature focal point