Versopolis poets reading at Littfest

Yesterday Littfest took off with a soft-start.

The audience could remain comfortably seated in their chairs, while author followed author up on the one stage. While the literary genres varied - from children’s literature, to novels, to poetry, to documentary - the common denominator of the event was the connection to Västerbotten, the province in Sweden where Umeå and Littfest are situated.

Pernilla Berglund, one of the Littfest nominees to the Versopolis pool of poets, made her first appearance during the festival, using her new book “Fälla” as a starting-point for her talk. Poet Carina Bergström did a beautiful job, when she presented both her own authorship and simultaneously introduced about 150 other poets through her connection to Sorsele Poetry Society. Sorsele is a small town and municipality in Västerbotten, where, in the words of Bergström: “If we [who live here] want something to happen, we need to make it happen ourselves”.

The issue of place, borders and the role they play in literature and writing is a recurring theme - not only for this event, but for Littfest 2015 as a whole. As the event closed with a reflecting resumé of the day delivered by a panel, Gunnar Ardelius, chair of The Swedish Writers’ Union, quoted Pernilla Berglund with the idea that “place is like a forcefield”.

Also participating in the panel was performance poet and novel writer Solja Krapu-Kallio, whose spoken word seems to anticipate her written poetry, as she speaks it to herself while doing everyday activities before writing it down. She noted that poetry can be written while frying meat-balls, in contrast to writing a novel.

Come evening it was time to introduce the invited Versopolis poets to the audience at the rather informal opening social at book café Pilgatan. The venue was sold out and the house was full as the poets read their work in the original language. At the same time, those in the audience who were so inclined followed the translations presented in beautiful and freely available booklets printed especially for the festival. The poets read only one poem each, as the purpose of this appearance was to give everyone present a taste of what’s to come. On Saturday afternoon, they will take to the stage in front of a potentially much larger audience at the festival proper.

The Versopolis reading was followed by a presentation of the new editors of the literary magazine Provins - Helena Fagertun and Pernilla Berglund, who made her second appearance of the day. After poetry readings by Tove Mörkberg and Malin Nord it was time for the member of the audience to brave the open mike, as the first day of Littfest came toward an end.