Wednesday, 15 October 2014
Sue Guiney and Noel Duffy in Finland
I have just had a busy and highly rewarding four days hosting the visit to Tampere of two writers whose work I admire greatly, Sue Guiney and Noel Duffy.
Sue and Noel arrived at Helsinki, Vantaa airport on Wednesday, 8 October and gave a reading to the Helsinki branch of the Finnish-British Society that same evening. I was not able to be there myself, but all the reports I've heard testify to its having been a very enjoyable reading followed by a lively evening out in restaurant Lappi.
On Thursday Sue and Noel ran a poetry workshop for the students at The English School in Helsinki and then travelled north to Tampere, where I met them. On Friday morning I introduced them to the principal and some of the staff at Tampereen Lyseon Lukio where they ran another successful poetry workshop. The group of IB students who took part in this workshop produced a group poem which you can read on Sue's home page:
That Friday, the 9 October, was Aleksis Kivi Day in Finland, or the national literature day, and apart from being a very suitable day for writers to be visiting Finland, there was also a celebration at Tampere University where Sue, Noel and myself read a poem each. Some of the staff of the university's language centre sang Aleksis Kivi's song 'Oravan Laulu' - 'The Song of the Squirrel' - which is from his novel, Seven Brothers.
A poetry reading had been arranged for Friday evening in Tampere's main library with Sue, Noel, Donald Adamson and myself. When the reading was over we spent almost an hour chatting with members of the audience. I always feel that one of the nicest things about giving a reading is this opportunity to meet the audience and exchange ideas, opinions and thoughts, not only about poetry necessarily, but also other topics that have been suggested by the reading.
On Saturday we gave a reading in Pispala library. It's a community-run library with a very special atmosphere. Once again, the reading was followed by an hour in which we could meet the audience, exchange ideas, and enjoy a glass of sparkling wine.
Many thanks to Sue and Noel for travelling all this way and making each event such a success, and thanks also to everyone who helped towards the organizing of the whole programme and individual events. The Finnish-British Society arranges many visits to Finland by a wide range of different speakers and artists and by so doing, helps to promote knowledge and understanding of the cultures of all involved.