Writers meet again in Lahti

14 May 2009 | In the news

In other words: LIWRE at Messilä Manor

In other words: LIWRE at Messilä Manor

The Lahti International Writers’ Reunion (LIWRE; www.liwre.fi) will be held this year between 14 and 16 June.

In the politically and culturally active 1960s, marked by the confrontation between East and West, an idea was born to found an international, bi-annual rendezvous where writers from all over the world could freely engage in discussions on various themes.

So, in high summer, in the Mukkula Manor and its park, on the outskirts of the city of Lahti (some 120 kilometres north of Helsinki), hundreds of writers have discussed – most often, it seems – the author’s many roles in the changing world.

Among the participants since 1963 have been, for example, Margaret Atwood, James Baldwin, Heinrich Böll, Camilo Jose Céla, J. M. Coetzee, Nawal El Saadawi, Günter Grass, Jaan Kross, Mario Vargas Llosa, Andrei Makïne, Salman Rushdie, Claude Simon, Yuri Trifonov…

The political East-West division, of course, became obsolete in the course of the time, but the discussions never run out of neither themes nor debaters.  The theme of the 24th reunion is ‘In other words’. Writers, the heirs of ancient storytellers, recycle and retell tales and myths at will, rework a novel into a play or an essay into a graphic novel. And what happens when fiction gets translated, i.e. is put into other words?

Chairing the discussions, which are open to the public – now at Messilä Manor, just across the lake from the original venue – will be the writer Virpi Hämeen-Anttila and the editor-in-chief of the literary journal Parnasso, Jarmo Papinniemi (who is also a member of Books from Finland’s editorial board).

An international poetry evening will take place at Wanha Walimo (‘The Old Foundry’) in Lahti, and the traditional midnight football match – Finland versus the Rest of the World – will be played one light-filled night.

According to the organisers, among the estimated thirty visiting writers will be the poets Richard Burns (UK), Kristiina Ehin (Estonia), Sayumi Kamakura (Japan) and George Elliot Clarke (Canada) and the novelists A.S. Byatt (UK), Viktor Yerofeyev (Russia), Philippe Claudel (France), Olga Tokarczuk (Poland) and Jayne Anne Phillips (US).