Flying Words Project (USA)
Founded in 1984, Flying Words Project will give the Finnish audience its first introduction to American Sign Language poetry, originally created in sign language. Sign language has been seen in poetry before, but usually only when poetry created by people who hear is interpreted into sign language – this time it is the other way around! Sign language enables rich use of movement and space, resulting in a unique type of poetry that is entirely its own. Flying Words consists of deaf poet Peter Cook, who is known as a delightfully expressive performer, and his co-author Kenny Lerner, who interprets the poems for those who do not know sign language. Flying Words Project has released four DVD collections and appeared at many international festivals.
Zena Edwards (UK)
In the past twenty years, London-based Zena Edwards has developed into one of Britain’s most important performing poets and poetry activists. Also known as a skilled singer and musician, Edwards has widely toured Britain and Europe with her highly acclaimed one-woman poetry shows. Her performances are an open-minded mix of poetry, world music and jazz and hip hop influences. Zena Edwards has performed and collaborated with artists like Hugh Masekela, The Last Poets and Linton Kwesi Johnson. She is also known as a civil activist and popular moderator of poetry workshops. You can find Zena’s poetry on our Spotify playlist.
Ghayath Almadhoun (SY, SE)
Ghayath Almadhoun is a Palestinian poet born in a refugee camp in Syria. He has been living in Sweden since 2008. Before moving to Europe as a political refugee, Almadhoun published one poetry collection in Syria. Since then, he has published four works of poetry, the latest of which, the English-language ‘Adrenalin’, came out in 2017. In 2018, the book was nominated for the Best Translated Book Award in the US. Almadhoun’s poetry has been translated into nearly 20 languages. He has also directed a number of poetry films and collaborated with American artist Jenny Holzer, among others. In his poems, Almadhoun often expresses the rough experiences of asylum seekers, his homesickness and the guilt of a person who has left their home country. He is currently staying in a writers’ residency in Berlin.
Māra Zālīte (LV)
Māra Zālīte is one of Latvia’s most internationally renowned and read contemporary writers. She played a major role in Latvia’s national awakening, which led to the country’s independence. In 1988, Zālīte reworked the text of Latvia’s national epic into a rock opera, ‘Lāčplēsis’, which became a symbol of the uprising. Its songs have become classics known by all Latvians. Zālīte’s work includes poetry collections, plays, librettos, children’s books, essay collections and novels and has been translated into several languages. Her award-winning, autobiographical novel ‘Pieci pirksti’ (‘Five Fingers’) was published in Finnish in 2018 under the title ‘Viisi sormea’. At the Annikki Poetry Festival, Zālīte will be performing texts from her work ‘Lāčplēsis’ at the Telakka Cultural Centre on 5 June. The poems will be read in Finnish by Henri Ranki, who has also translated them.
Niillas Holmberg is a poet, musician and Sámi activist living in Utsjoki, his birthplace. He has published six poetry collections, which have been translated into various languages. Holmberg’s collection ‘Amas amas amasmuvvat’ received the Saami Council Literature Prize in 2014 and was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize. Holmberg’s latest work, ‘Jalkapohja’ (‘Sole’), deals with people’s connection to earth and wonders where it has disappeared. The Sámi identity and environmental questions are the main themes of his artistic expression. Having released two albums of his own music, Holmberg also combines his poetry with joik and singing in an original manner. You can find Homberg’s music on our Spotify playlist
Happonen, Paleface & Viljanen
Writers Karri ‘Paleface’ Miettinen and Kaisa Happonen will appear at the Annikki Poetry Festival with their topical work of performance poetry, ‘Tämä on kauhea tapa elää’ (‘This is a horrible way of living’). The performance comments on the environmental crisis and the existential anxiety caused by it. The music for the performance is provided by multi-instrumentalist Juho Viljanen, who is known from several top ensembles. The music is influenced by electronic music and jazz, among other things. The texts of the work express the voice of a tiny human being faced with the infinite universe, belief in the significance of personal choices as well as the concern of parents about the future of the planet and future generations. Premiered in 2019, the work will now be performed for the second time.
Hannu Mäkelä is a poet, writer and Academician of Art who has published over 150 books. His work includes novels, memoirs, poetry collections, short stories, plays and radio plays. Mäkelä’s character Herra Huu (Mr. Boo) is one of the most popular characters in Finnish children’s literature. His books have been translated into over 15 languages. Mäkelä has received a number of awards for his work, including the Eino Leino Award and the Finnish State Literature Award five times. In recent years, Mäkelä has published five volumes of his autobiographical novel series ‘Muistan’ (‘I Remember’).
Signe are a quickly rising band that comprises four female voices and a double bass. Signe were recently nominated for the Jazz Emma Award, and their latest album ‘To Sappho’ is currently running for the Teosto Award. The quartet have been playing together for five years and have often performed internationally. Their partly improvised music plays on the interfaces between jazz, contemporary music and folk music. The band consists of singers Riikka Keränen, Selma Savolainen and Josefiina Vannesluoma as well as singing double bass player Kaisa Mäensivu. At the Annikki Poetry Festival, cellist Mila Laine will be substituting for Mäensivu, who works in New York. Signe’s gig at Annikki will concentrate on songs from ‘To Sappho’. The songs on the album have been written to poems by Sappho, the poet who lived on the island of Lesbos in Greece and praised love between women. You can find Signe’s music on our Spotify playlist
Sanni Purhonen is a poet, literary art teacher and literature critic living in Vantaa. Her debut collection ‘Naara’ came out in 2010, followed by a second work of poetry, ‘Ihmiskoirat’ (‘Human Dogs’), in 2014. In addition to this, she has written radio plays. Among other topics, Purhonen’s work depicts her life with mobility challenges caused by cerebral palsy. In her poem ‘Haittaako jos kysyn?’ (‘Do you mind if I ask?’), she vividly highlights people’s bewilderingly absurd approach to disability. Purhonen also works as the communications officer of the Threshold Association. Another theme that is important for her is everyone’s right to sexuality and love.
Finland-Swedish Monika Fagerholm is one of Finland’s most internationally known and award-winning writers. Having started her literary career in the late 1980s, she made her breakthrough in 1994 with the novel ‘Underbara kvinnor vid vatten’ (‘Wonderful Women by the Sea’). Her latest novel ‘Vem dödade bambi?’ (‘Who Killed Bambi?’) came out last year to rave reviews. Fagerholm has received numerous awards for her literary work, including the Runeberg Award and the Finnish State Literature Award. She has also won awards in Sweden, including the country’s foremost literary award, August Prize, and recently the Karl Emil Tollander Prize. Fagerholm will be one of the performers at the Annikki Poetry Festival’s prose breaks.
Elsa Tölli is a Helsinki-based poet, spoken word artist and performer. Dubbed a rising star of Finnish spoken word poetry, she is an active long-term member of Helsinki Poetry Connection and one of the founding members of Lavarunoakatemia, the Finnish spoken word academy. Characterised by an intense presence, Tölli’s unapologetic poetry performances have been seen at a number of events, such as Flow Festival, Ruisrock and Kajaanin Runoviikko Poetry Festival. Her debut collection ‘Fun Primavera’ is coming out in April.
Siiri Enoranta is a Tampere-based author writing for both young people and adults. Despite her young age, she already has many books under her belt. Since 2009, Enoranta has published eight novels. The latest of these, ‘Tuhatkuolevan kirous’ (‘The Burning Dark’) received the Finlandia Prize for the best children’s/young adults’ title in 2018. In addition, Enoranta has received the Topelius Prize. Her books are often set in a fantasy world, but their stories also offer insightful commentary on contemporary life. Enoranta’s books have often dealt with gender identity and sexual diversity. She has also aimed to influence the public discussion on these issues by publicly describing her own choices. Enoranta will be one of the performers at the Annikki Poetry Festival’s prose breaks.
Alexandra Salmela & J.P. Laitinen
Writers Alexandra Salmela and J.P. Laitinen perform together under the moniker Outuo. To be seen during one of the Prose Breaks, their ‘Veletkä’ performance is a playful research project that combines written text, theatre and performance art in a new, creative way. The result is a multi-artistic prose performance that transcends genre boundaries and has thrilled audiences everywhere it has been performed. Alexandra Salmela has published two novels, the first of which, ‘27 eli kuolema tekee taiteilijan’ (‘27, or Death Makes the Artist’) won the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize and was nominated for the Finlandia Prize. She has also written books for children and been involved in theatrical productions for a long time. J.P. Laitinen’s debut novel ‘Lume’ was published last year. He is also an award-winning journalist and experienced in improvised theatre.
Adikia is a rap artist and visual artist living in Helsinki. She is a key figure in the movement that strives to demolish the entrenched gender roles in hip hop culture. Adikia belongs to the D.R.E.A.M.G.I.R.L.S. collective, one of Finland’s most talked about rap phenomena in recent years. The lyrics to the song ‘Koskematon RMX’, which Adikia wrote for the collective, were selected among the most important lyrics in Finnish rap in a series of articles by Helsingin Sanomat. Known for her feminist lyrics that unashamedly praise the female sexuality, Adikia was nominated for the Emma Award in 2018. She is currently working on new songs in a studio. You can find Adikia’s music on our Spotify playlist.
Antti Sinervo is a poet living in Tampere. He has published two poetry collections, the first of which, ‘Syvän ja matalan reuna’ (‘The Brink of the Deep and the Shallow’) came out in 1996. His second book ‘Kesän kukkakimppu’ (‘The Summer Bouquet of Flowers’), an exploration of the wonders of nature and life, was published last year. The collection’s richly aphoristic nature poems and Sinervo’s child-of-nature stage charisma have won many new friends for his poetry.
Pelle & Romantiks
Pelle & Romantiks is a Tampere-based poetry and jazz band performing the poetry of Pelle Romantika (real name Toni Lahtinen). Early in the year, the band released a poetry album pressed on vinyl, ‘Äiti, kuva alkaa juosta. Lastenrunoja’ (‘Mother, the Picture Starts to Run. Children’s Poems’). Pelle Romantika has previously released two poetry albums, the latter of which, ‘Luontorunoja’ (‘Nature Poems’), received last year’s Nihil Interit poetry award. Pelle & Romantiks consists of Toni Lahtinen (recitation), Kielo Kärkkäinen (vocals), Sebastian Krühn (drums), Ville Rauhala (double bass) and Sami Sippola (saxophone). You can find their recordings on our Spotify playlist
Pelkkä Poutanen is the solo project of Petra Poutanen, a musician and kantele artist. Described by listeners as an earthquake or the Big Bang, Poutanen’s music combines folk instruments, live electronics, sung poetry and throat singing with great skill. Poutanen uses various musical genres as tools just like instruments, and her experimental music mixes folk traditions with classical and electronic music. Her solo project concentrates on the experience of holiness and its absurd manifestations. Poutanen lives in Tampere and is also known as the leader, composer and lyricist of the acclaimed UTU band.
Zane un Minna
Zane Un Minna are a Latvian/Finnish duo operating from Helsinki who released their debut album last year. Zane Uitto and Minna Koskenlahti met at the Sibelius Academy in 2012 and have been playing music together ever since. The duo will take listeners into the world of Latvian Inga Gaile’s poetry. Uitto has composed Gaile’s poems into small worlds in which you can safely hide for a moment. The piano, kalimba, percussion instruments and vocals create a soundscape for the poems’ autumnal gardens, rain, pizza deliverers and impossible love. At the Annikki Poetry Festival, the Zane Un Minna duo will perform at the Telakka Cultural Centre on 5 June. You can find Zane un Minna’s music on our Spotify playlist
Debutant[e]s: Huttunen, Tahvanainen & Tuominen
Reetta Huttunen’s debut collection ‘Valkoisessa takissa olen lähinnä mies’ (‘In a White Coat, I’m Mostly a Man’) was published this spring by Enostone. In 2018, Huttunen won the prose category in the Pirkanmaa Writing Competition and received an honorary prize for her short story from the Hannu Salama Association. This spring, Huttunen has also received publicity relating to her other profession: she works as an infection specialist at Tampere University Hospital. Her job also shows in the poems in her debut collection. Working as a doctor gives her a good vantage point into the various dimensions of being human.
Ilkka Tahvanainen won the esteemed Runo-Kaarina Award last year. His debut collection, published by the City of Kaarina, is titled ‘putkista ja virtauksista’ (‘about pipes and flows’). It is probably the first Finnish poetry collection about plumbing renovation. Having written poetry for two decades, Tahvanainen gained an interest in renovation terminology and language through personal experience. The collection delightfully depicts his diverse interest in language.
Hanna Tuominen is a poet and internationally award-winning professional pianist living in Helsinki. Her debut collection ‘Kaikki vesi kädellä’ (‘All the Water in the Hand’) was published by Aviador in February. Tuominen has studied music abroad, has a degree from the Sibelius Academy and has also studied creative writing at the Critical Academy. Her literary debut explores the dimensions between music and poetry, not afraid to deal with big themes like death, love and the human relationship with nature.
Poetry Performance: Markku Hoikkala
Poet and playwright Markku Hoikkala will bring to the Annikki Poetry Festival his poetry performance ‘Sulatetut mahlarunot’ (‘Melted sap poems’). Hoikkala has engraved his poems on blocks of frozen birch sap. The frozen poems will be read out loud and then melted by the sun. This means that the participants get to enjoy poetry both externally and internally. According to Hoikkala, ‘the audience will drink the poem, which will then pass through their digestive system into the cell sap, coding a poetry node into their DNA. After drinking the poetry sap, they will awaken, start to photosynthesise and give birth to new poems.’ The sap can be enjoyed by about 50 participants. The melted sap poems will be seen on the Telakka Cultural Centre terrace on Friday, 5 June at 3:00–4:00 pm and at the Annikki Wooden Quarter on 6 June at 2:00–3:00 pm.
Title Artist: Teemu Mäenpää
Teemu Mäenpää is the title artist of this year’s Annikki Poetry Festival. A visual artist living in Tampere, he has his roots in street art. Mäenpää is also known as one of Finland’s leading muralists. He has taken part in dozens of individual and group exhibitions in Finland and abroad, and his work is included in several private collections and the Finnish State Art Collection. Mäenpää will paint a mural featuring poetry by Mirkka Rekola in the vicinity of the Annikki Wooden Quarter, and his work will also be displayed at the Annikki Art Kiosk and in various parts of the festival area.