Littfest 2017 under fosforescent uranium chandeliers

March 16–18 it is time for the 12th edition of the Northern light of Swedish literature – the festival Littfest in Umeå. Now the festival has released the program and presented their new venue for poetry.


A number of international renowned writers such as Susan Faludi, Leslie Jamison, Åsne Seierstad, Pajtim Statovci, Marnie Woodrow and many more are guests at Littfest in March.

This year Littfest also presents a new poetry-stage at the art museum Bildmuseet, where the poets will be reading under the fosforescent uranium chandeliers made by the artists Ken + Julia Yonetani’s installation Crystal Palace: The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nuclear Nations.

»We wanted to create a new room with an atmospheric setting. We know that at our literature festival, with more than 100 participating authors of different genres, it is hard for poetry to remain in focus. Therefore we wanted a special stage close to the main venue,« says Erik Jonsson, the program director of the festival.


Being part of the Versopolis network Littfest has selected five Versopolis poets to read on the new stage: Samantha Barendson (France), Marija Andrijašević (Croatia), Kayo Chingonyi (Great Britain), Kira Pietrek (Poland) and Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir (Iceland).

»What connects these five years poets is that they are very good on stage and are very expressful. I would also say that some of their poetry is more political than it first appears. When we set our program we always have our city and our audience in mind and Umeå is a young, red university city and the audience is more interested in engaged poetry than 'nature poetry'. Which can seem ironic since Umeå is a city in the middle of the Northern Scandinavian landscape,« Jonsson adds.


The international guests will be accompanied by the Swedish poets Ida Linde, Pär Hansson, Mattias Alkberg, Jenny Tunedal och Linda Boström Knausgård. »These poets are well known to our audience, and many of them also have a local connection to this region.«

Among the visiting authors are also the Norwegian poet, novelist and legendary publisher Geir Gulliksen and the Mexican poetess Gloria Gervitz.

»We are extremly happy that Gloria will fly over the Atlantic to be at the festival. We have put together a Swedish tour for her from here to Malmö in the south.«


A special event at this years festival is also a translation workshop hosting Swedish writing poets and Sami poets.

»Sami literature consists mainly of poetry, but it is a literature that has no experience of organizing, it falls back to oral tradition with very few publishing houses. We hope there will be extra focus not only on Sami literature but Sami language and tradition. We have nominated Sami poets to Versopolis and now we are also cooperating with Tromsø poetry festival which is curated by Sami poet Sigbjørn Skåden,« Jonsson explains.

The translations made at the workshop will also be read on the poetry stage.


Two poets from the Swedish Academy will also appear at the festival, Per Wästberg and Kristina Lugn. The latter will open the festival in a performance together with the jazz musician Sara Riedel who has made music to a number of Lugn’s poems.