Ernestas Noreika

- Lithuania -

Ernestas Noreika was born in 1989 in Kaunas. He studied Lithuanian philology in Lithuanian Educology University. His first poetry book Lake of Peacocks (2012) won the Zigmas Gėlė-Gaidamavičius prize for the best poetry debut. His second poetry book An Andalusian Dog was published in 2016. His third poetry book Apollo was published in 2019, and was awarded the Young Yotvingian Prize, wich is the most important prize for young poets in Lithuania.


Ernestas Noreika is also a well-known rap and hip-hop singer (his scenic name is Beeta).

An Explorer of Deep Space


Back then I only knew him by his pseudonym. Ernestas used to share his work on one digital platform for Lithuanian artists and went by the original and unexpected poetic moniker of The Puppeteer (Lith. Lėlininkas). I remember being fascinated by his poems and thinking about who the author of these works might be. I eventually found out that those were the poems of Ernestas Noreika. A lot time has passed since then; Ernestas Noreika is already an author of three poetry (Lake of Peacocks, 2012; Andalusian Dog, 2016; Apollo 2019). His debut poetry collection earned him the Zigmas Gėlė Prize, while Apollo earned him the prestigious Young Yotvingian Award. But I was even more surprised to learn that Ernestas is also a hip hop artist, well-known in Lithuania by the pseudonym BEETA, who has released two albums to his name (Twin Peaks, 2014, Kūlgrinda, 2017). What is more interesting – this artist is also a licenced industrial climber. It seems to me that his evident desire to go upward, set his sights on the horizon, and set his heart free to wander the vast expanses above is very closely linked to the concept of Ernestas’s third book.

His poetry contains staggering degrees of depth, eloquence, and subtle balance of language. Whichever poetic form the author chooses to utilize, his work flows and crosses the railways of being in the most appropriate places. Ernestas’s poetry is organic and sensitive to foundational concepts; it studies the earth, water, and the celestial sphere. He uses unexpected and expressive metaphors and original, striking imagery dense with meaning and poetic detail, which he had already employed in his initial writings. Anyhow, after reading the author’s third collection of poetry, I must say that Ernestas shot a little higher more so and surpassed, first of all, his former self. Even though Apollo is reminiscent of the author’s style of peculiarity of metaphor, this book also appears as a kind of purification and renewal of form (every other poem sheds its baroque dress); it is an energy, wild and pulsing, the ascension of a powerful rocket, a conquest of new space. Apollo is a brave exploration of worlds and their borders – a truthful glance out of a poetic spacesuit. Language becomes a vital tool for exploring the micro-and macrocosm, our own universal being, because often only such poetic approaches may help us understand the world we inhabit, the uncharted inner spaces, and ourselves.

Even though spaceships drift out into the open space, they do not wander aimlessly, while their construction relies on delicate and precise work. Ernestas’s Apollo is no exception – a sturdy poetic model destined to freely gather data on our real and surreal existence. Attempts to expose the absurd and create approaches to authenticity are visible here. In many of the book’s poems I felt the subject’s attempts to grasp authentic being – this attempt is a hunger and a necessity, an impetus that often collides with asteroids of the absurd, the void, and mass existence – those of us here “breath scraps of the absurd,” while digital women “work according to ones and zeroes.” As the author articulates these paradigms of  existentialist and absurd sensation, he also speaks on meaning, ever-elusive, and alienation, using the image of “ships of people” hovering in separate spaces. The poem “Bellissima” is constructed on the principle of contrast: the laborers who had built the cruise ship are juxtaposed with the rich, who “in comfortable theater lodges / will grow fat and bored / will play cards craps in the casino of happiness / smoke expensive cigars / and buy drinks for women on sale” (p. 21). The subject is often seen changing; they change as the natural and digital worlds slip by one another or collide. It could be said that this book is truly an attempt to comprehend the changes and rifts of physical and spiritual reality, the relationship between urban artefacts and natural objects, and the inevitable collisions of human (natural) existence and digital reality: “as if we found ourselves in a robot’s entrails / and tried to escape its metal intestines / with minds only a little digested” (p. 24). Emptiness is experienced as a state of weightlessness; time, as well as its variations and changes, are contemplated, for during the cosmic ventures time, too, flies at a different pace: one must either “diffuse the ticking bombs of time” or sense a slower pace take hold. Ernestas’s poems also focus on realizing a fantasy world and observing a world made strange; the logic of the poems is thus dynamic and subservient to the imagination. These poems provide the platform for underwater  trains and airplanes – “boats that soar in the waters of sky,” thinning the line between the realities of the poem’s subject.

Speaking of Ernestas himself, he always reminded me of an old-fashioned sage smoking a pipe of peace and tolerance. This image I have of him in my mind is reaffirmed by what he said in an interview with Lina Simutytė: “I wish that people would discover poetry more, not exclusively in books. But in their lives. And that people would allow themselves to experience it fully. I would wish to wake up in a world where people aren’t at each other’s throats because of a broken showerhead or because their dog took a shit in their shoes. Where people know better than to take out their personal failures and downfalls on others. A world that is more attentive and understanding, that realizes more the miracle that even though we are so different, we still try to reach an understanding amongst ourselves. A world where people would really talk more, rather than interpreting their own ideas that they impose upon others. Where people stop thinking for others, stop explaining what truth is. A world filled with more love. Above all, I would wish to wake up in a world among people.”

            I’m happy to welcome Ernestas Noreika, a sensitive and talented writer, to the Versopolis family.