Pauli Tapio from Finland is the winner of the “Bridges of Struga” award 2018

The Managing Board of NIM “Struga Poetry Evenings” decided that the “Bridges of Struga” award for best debutant poetry book, in competition with 23 books from 13 countries to be awarded to the Finnish poet Pauli Tapio for his poetry book “Sparrows and time” (Varpuset ja aika). The international poetic award “Bridges of Struga” for best debutant book is awarded by Struga Poetry Evenings together with UNESCO.

Pauli Tapio was born in 1986 in the northern Finnish city of Oulu. As a child his family spent several years living abroad, in the USA, in Czechoslovakia and in the United Kingdom. As an adult he has lived in Helsinki, Finland, and in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has studied Finnish literature and Russian at the university of Helsinki and has worked as a literary critic, an event organizer and a translator. Tapio has translated books by such Russian authors as Sergei Dovlatov and Svetlana Alexievich as well as poetry by young Russian poets. He is currently employed by the University of Helsinki where he teaches courses and conducts PhD research into the formation of vers libre in modernistic Finnish poetry.

Tapio’s first collection of poetry, Sparrows and Time, was published in 2017. In the same year it won the prestigious Helsingin Sanomat book award, given to the best debut work of prose or poetry of that year. In his poetry, Tapio takes an interest in the rhythms of the Finnish language. He is also very interested in the formal and stylistic conventions of different poetic tradition and he likes to adapt time worn forms and constraints into contemporary contexts whilst maintaining an engagement with the innovative contemporary poetry of his native language and other languages. Thematically, his first collection investigates the fate of modern individuality as it is caught in the convulsions of world history and world politics.

Pauli Tapio’s Sparrows and time is touching in its precision and depth. It’s a mature, complex and in terms of literary technique an extremely skillfully composed book that explores touching themes about the complexity and difficulty in the communication among people, for the longing for meaning and communication. Through a deep melancholic tone, descriptions of historical torture methods, news headlines about capsizing refugee boats and banal, random diary entries are contrasted with each other.

Sparrows and Time operates on many levels, moving from large scale vistas to tiny details and back and forth in time and space. The personal connects with the universal, the conceptual with the experiential. Pompeii is buried in hashtags, past lives condense into planets, satellites spy on provincial towns. Thoughts dart from plane to plane like rays of light captured in a hall of mirrors, and from time to time they crystallise into concise insights.

Some poems adapt old forms and meters, but most are written in free verse. There is a lot of prose poetry and even prose in the collection. Tapio experiments bravely with different stylistic devices that make the reader hesitate as to what is the most suitable way of reading. He manages to reach a powerful effect through simple meanings, often using rather shocking, unexpected junctions. Sparrows and time is a book which surprises. Almost every poem has a different form.

The awarded book will be published in a trilingual edition (Finnish, Macedonian and English language). It will be presented during this year’s edition of the festival 22-27 August 2018.

Previously, On World Poetry Day, 21st March at the press conference held in the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts was announced that the Polish poet Adam Zagajewski is the winner of the “Golden Wreath” award 2018 of Struga Poetry Evenings.

The “Golden Wreath” and “Bridges of Struga” awards will be presented on the international poetry reading “Bridges”, as part of the Struga Poetry Evenings festival.