On which the Versopolis poets finally get to meet the wider Littfest audience - both in person and online.
Come Saturday, Littfest was permeated with a celebratory atmosphere. After four years of persuasion - and more than four years of admiration - from the Littfest organizers, Jeanette Winterson was ready to take to the stage of Idun, the largest venue of Littfest with the capacity to hold more than 1000 people. It was filled to the brim. And later, in the afternoon, the Versopolis poets were due to make their main appearance on the festival. All in all, it looked to be a lovely day. And it was.
Erik Jonsson, who selected the invited poets, presented the Versopolis event. He told the audience that he was looking for unique voices and distinctive forms of expression when choosing from the pool of nominees. He wanted to present authors that could contribute to the Swedish literary climate. It was also important to get an interesting mix, to select 5 different kinds of poets, with the hopes that everyone in the audience would be able to find at least one new voice to appreciate.
Gašper Bivšek (Slovenia) was first to go, with a rather short but rich reading. His poems contain a distinct masculine imagery and a dark and heavy mood, reminiscent of the Swedish graphic novel Trollkungen (“The Troll King”) by Kolbeinn Karlsson. Ana Brnardić (Croatia) followed, surprising and delighting the audience by mixing new material with the texts from the booklet. She has the ability to, within her poetry, handle vulnerable moments and potentially volatile situations with an admirable sensitivity and finesse - without in any manner devaluing the matters at hand.
At halftime Harry Man (United Kingdom) presented his poetry, placing them into context by sharing short anecdotes about what prompted them to be written. He also showed an admirable sense of humour, well fitted for his shrewd - and sometimes, as in the case of the poem “Ultrasound”, very touching - observations of the things that be. Man’s poetry is imbued by a combination of heart and scientific themes that is very sympathetic.
Katja Perat (Slovenia) also approached her poetry with an air of humor, albeit maybe more with regard to the absurdity of the human condition in general - and that of academical and intellectual circles in particular. Her poetry is sprinkled with associations and references to philosophers and political thinkers, yet it never feels overloaded. Instead it leaves the reader with a sense of healthy distance to everything that is prestige, and goes to show that you don’t have to be cold and distanced in order to be well read and intelligent.
Tom van de Voorde (Belgium) was last poet on stage. He read his poetry with a low, hushed voice, a poetry which has a fragmented, almost idyllic quality, at the same time as it flashes with social criticism and violence. Both Tom van de Voorde and Katja Perat will be published by Rámus, the leading publisher of European poetry in Sweden, come 2016.
This event was streamed online and will be available for viewing on the Littfest YouTube. While this text primarily focus on the Versopolis readings, many of the Littfest events will also be available online, to watch at your leisure (unfortunately the Jeanette Winterson talk won’t be among them - that was a one-time experience). Several of the events were carried out in English. There is also quite a backlist to explore for those who are curious about Littfest events from previous years.
A special shoutout to all of the the other poets participating in the Saturday programme as well: Dragana Mladenović (Serbia), Heli Slunga (Finland), Versopolis nominee Pernilla Berglund (Sweden), Solja Krapu-Kallio (Sweden), Thomas Tidholm (Sweden), and Torbjörn Säfve (Sweden).