Helsinki Book Fair recap

I’m now back in Copenhagen after an incredible time in the big celebration of literature and culture that is the Helsinki Book Fair, where I was invited by the Finnish PEN to speak of Poetry and Exile.
I took advantage of the opportunity to also document my participation through a series of interviews for my podcast, Red Transmissions, which will be airing in the coming weeks.

To those of you who haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast, it is a series of conversations with the Worldthreaders I encounter on my path. What’s a worldthreader, you ask? precisely what it sounds like. People who through their creative or activist work connect the world around us, without thinking of borders of barriers and divisions. This can be done directly through art, literature and music, or through projects in defense of human rights, climate and equality, defending our rights to a dignified existence.

In my talk, hosted by Daniel Malpica, fellow poet and member of the board of Finnish PEN, I had the opportunity of presenting my new book Det usynlige sår / La herida invisible by Det Poetiske Bureaus Forlag, my previous book In the Jaws of Oblivion by La Impresora in Puerto Rico, and of discussing my story and my current work in Copenhagen attempting to create new spaces of exchange and collaboration amongst migrant creators residing in the nordic countries, as well as nordic creators through translations and connections so as to provide opportunities for them in the US and Latin America. My gratitude goes to Veera Tyhtilä, Chair of Finnish PEN, Daniel Malpica for being an incredible host and fantastic photographer of my adventures in Helsinki, and Leena Manninen for facilitating all the left-brain processes of this adventure.

Additionally, I had the opportunity of listening to Sofi Oksanen speak and later interviewing her for the podcast. This was an empowering reunion! Sofi is an incredible Finnish writer and playwright. She has published five novels, of which Purge has gained the widest recognition. She has received several international and domestic awards for her literary work. Her work has been translated into more than 40 languages and sold more than two million copies. Sofi shared with me that she will also be participating in the coming Colombian Book Fair in April, so if you’re going to be attending, keep your schedule open for what she has to say. Otherwise, stay tuned for her episode!

Thank you, Veera, for giving me such a warm welcome to Helsinki.

In the words of Daniel Malpica: “The work of Finnish PEN is very relevant in today’s global context. There is still a lot of places where writers face harassment, incarceration and murder for opening up and publicly expressing their views, and Elizabeth is the clear example of how poetry succeeds despite the difficulties, in a clear demand for a better world.”

I encourage you to follow the movements of your local PEN chapter, giving them a like on Facebook, and standing up in whatever ability you can from your location to support freedom of expression in these turbulent times.

Thank you, PEN Finland, Veera, Daniel, Leena, Oula, Sofi, and everyone whom I encountered in my journey.

Love and poetry,
Madam Neverstop.

Photo by Daniel Malpica, Helsingin Kirjamessuilla, 2019

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