Centers, peripheries, and lots of poetry

Friday was the day when Littfest geared up, with continuous events in three venues all day long, and a cooperation with the festival MADE (Music, Art, Dance, Etcetera) come night. The invited Versopolis poets had the day off, and were free to enjoy Littfest and the rest of Umeå at their leisure.

Littfest is a scene for all kinds of literature, drawing a wide range of audience. This presents a lot of opportunities both to dig deeper into familiar ground, and to expose oneself to new, interesting voices and experiences. The events presented in this resumé is just a small selection of what the festival as a whole had to offer.

“Center(s) of Periphery” - a two-part symposium on Friday afternoon, appendixed by the participating authors doing readings on Saturday - was a collaboration between Littfest and Belgrade-based festival Krokodil. The common denominator was the notion that both festivals operate within regions in a relative periphery, even though the conditions for doing so are quite different.

The first conversation, moderated by Ivan Bevc, involved prosaist Bojan Babić and poet Dragana Mladenović from Serbia, together with prosaist Mikael Berglund and poet and Versopolis nominee Pernilla Berglund, both residing in Umeå. The starting-point of the discussion was the expectations to reproduce themes of their predecessors that provincial authors face, and how to handle the risk of getting pigeonholed, or writing stereotypically due to this pressure.

The definition of the word “periphery” varied widely - and beautifully - during the conversation, giving the impression that the authors, by the power of their words, fluctuated between being (within) the center, and (within) a plural of peripheries before our very eyes.

In the second part of the symposium Steve Sem-Sandberg and Andrej Nikolaidis gave their views on the connection between place, experience, and authorship, together with reflections on whether or not politics has a place in literature. Moderated by Per Bergström.

The evening Littfest programme was launched at the concert hall at NorrlandsOperan (The Norrland’s Opera), with a collective reading by students from the Nordic Folk High School on Biskops-Arnö, a school which has fostered many Scandinavian authors.

At the event hosted by the anthology Blå blixt (Brombergs publishing house), Sanna Hartnor read from her debut, Hamnen (in english: The Harbour), about a newly built, upmarket residential area with the characteristics of a glacier. Lina Hagelbäck did a very strong and emotional reading from her prose poetry about the character Violencia, who is prone to volcanic eruptions.

Nominated Versopolis poet Linn Hansén and artist Johannes Samuelsson delivered a highly charged piece of satire on the subject of civic dialogue as a tool for democratic process. The piece suggested that there is an abysmal chasm of communication within the method - a clash between officials exerting control over the opinions and expressions of the participating members of the public, while, at the same time, stubbornly and almost desperately asserting that the participants has the right to express themselves freely.

Parallelly with the Littfest evening events, MADE presented a program containing an interview with punk rocker and author Viv Albertine, dance by Ian Kaler, vernissage of a work by artist Sidsel Meineche Hansen, and music by bands 1987 and Gidge.