Festival Finnish: a Night of International Poetry

Brighton basking in the sun, and this evening The Quadrant pub had almost 40 people packed into what quickly became quite an airless and sweaty room.

Luckily into this were poured the images of a cooler climate. This bilingual event gave you the opportunity to hear again just how alien Finnish sounds to English speaking ears, coming as it does from a distinctly different branch of the linguistic tree.

Merja Virolainen was the first up, and I particularly liked her first poem spoken in the voice of a girl hanging upside down in a tree, and all the reversals that followed from that until she drops out of the tree to end it. A simple concept beautifully rendered.

Then Jouni Inkala, who was clearly deft, witty and ironic, and although some of his humour got lost in translation enough sustained for his work to be very enjoyable. And finally Johanna Venho one of whose poems, about skiing across country in the approved Finnish manner, was expansive and brought a hot and frosty grandeur to proceedings.

The poets were introduced by Maria Jastrrzebska and John O’Donoghue, who also provided translations. And there were some fresh and well sung songs by Katarina Holmberg and friends, including one in Finnish, to top and tail the readings.

This was a quirky but very worthwhile night out in Brighton, supported and promoted by The South.

By Peter Kenny

I lead a double life. Identity #1. A writer of poems, comedy plays, dark fiction and the odd libretto. Identity #2: A marketing outlier, working with London creative agencies and my own clients as a copywriter and creative consultant.

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