Special topic of this year's festival is War and Migration
Last weekend Versopolis-partner Littfest in Umeå, Sweden, released their program for this year’s festival, March 17-19.
Among their guests are not only Versopolis poets but also Swedish writers, artists, scholars, musicians and cartoonists like Sara Stridsberg, Klas Östergren, Lars Lerin and Nina Hemmingson, and also international stars such as Jenny Erpenbeck, Josefine Klougart, Ramy Essam, Samar Yazbek and Joanna Biggs, and also a special focus on war and migration.
Littfest began ten years ago in Umeå with the idea to create a literary platform and meeting place in northern Sweden. Today the festival is an institution with more than 2500 visitors each of the three days the festival is organised in March.
As Versopolis-partner five of the festival’s guests are Željka Horvat Čeč and Asja Bakić from Croatia, French Linda Maria Baros, British Karen McCarthy Wolf and Monica Aasprong from Norway.
– We are very happy to invite five very diverse poets that complement each other very well. They are all great but different in style. We have put a real effort to find the right translator for each poet and it has turned out very well, as with the Swedish Versopolis poet Ida Linde translating Monica Aasprong. I would not be surprised if she gets a whole book published in Sweden, says Erik Jonsson who, together with Patrik Tornéus and Viktor Hariz, organises and curates the festival.
Above the five poets in the Versopolis program Slovenian poet Katja Perat and Tom Van de Voorde from Belgium returns to the festival where they participated in the program last year. Since then they both have had books published in Swedish translation which they now return to promote.
– We wanted to present them again where they will both read in the Versopolis program and hold presentations of their books. This year we have many writers who have visited us before returning and we therefore thought it would be great if also Katja and Tom would like to come back.
The festival is celebrating a ten year anniversary, but instead of inviting a special guest for the occassion the organiers had a different idea.
– We wanted to put focus on questions we have tried to focus on during the ten years, with socialy engaged literature, and question that are very current in the city of Umeå. Therefor we choosed two special themes, Roma stories and War and Migration.
Among the guests on the War and Migration theme you will find the Syrian writer Samar Yazbek, Russian journalist Arkadij Babtjenko, Ramy Essam who composed the soundtrack for the Egyptian revolution, Libanese scholar Gilbert Achcar, the chairman of Swedish PEN Ola Larsmo and many more.
– We have writers from different conflict areas and try to make a connection from the disasters going on there to Umeå to ask what we can do. For example Umeå is the only university city in Sweden that is not an ICORN safe haven-city and we will have a panel about why we’re not. We also made a special selection here for Karen McCarthy Wolf’s poetry with her birdpoems dealing with migration.
Altogether 130 participants from 16 countries will come to Umeå during the three days, and this year there is also a new possibility for outer towners to join the festival since a bus will travel from Stockholm the 800km north to Umeå with readings and events going on on the bus.
Littfest has a wide program ranging from international poets and members of the Swedish Academy to football players and TV-celebrities.
– We have the privelige that the festival is sold out so we are all the time trying to reach out to new visitors. We want to attract more than the ones who are already deeply interested in literature.