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PN Review 274
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This report is taken from PN Review 273, Volume 50 Number 1, September - October 2023.

Letter from Finland Anthony Vahni Capildeo
The invitation to Runokuu could not have been more beautiful. Runokuu, ‘Poetry Moon’, is the fabled and fearless Moon festival of literature, art, music, discussions and unclassifiable invention, which takes place in late summer in Helsinki, Finland. Runokuu’s aim is stated openly: to foreground ‘experimental, marginal and young poets and poetics’, while honouring ‘roots and traditions’ and inviting international performers to ‘[broaden] the perspectives of Finnish poetry’, creating ‘lasting bonds between poetry scenes all around the world’. Quiet yet determined and effective actions – not just gestures – towards the free circulation of ideas characterized the festival. Small booklets, bound in moonlight-grey, were made available free to attendees. These contained samples of the work of poets at the festival, in bilingual and trilingual versions, specially translated for the occasion. The festival follows a safer spaces policy, and there was no alcohol in the green room, but an array of ever-renewed treats and healthy snacks (it is entirely my fault if I ate myself sick on lemon liquorice instead of having a proper meal).

Each year there is a theme. For the nineteenth iteration, in 2023, that theme was ‘connection’. Events had begun on the last Thursday in August, with a Poetry Jam, the day before I arrived. The programme’s late-night club feeling was cool, rather than cringe; historically grounded, simply there, not self-conscious or try-hard. For the rather amazing venue (sadly, soon to be repurposed by the city council, from what I understand) is Tiivistämö, an ‘urban venue that plays host to a range of different events, from concerts to raves, ...

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