How is it that we can reach shared truths and establish common ground in our complex world, a place that is home to speakers of some 6,000 different languages? How can we best communicate values of respect and spiritual inquiry in a world that feels more fractured by the day?
The Helsinki Poetry Connection invites everyone to Mascot Live Stage (Neljäs linja 2) on Thursday, 12 April to help answer this and other questions of human nature through spoken word, song, live music, and authentic bonhomie at this year’s second Poetry Jam!
Join us for a night of multicultural mixology, starting with the sultry world selections of DJ Lulu and kicking off with a trilingual poetry performance from Burmese activist and poet Ye Yint Thet Zwe. During his years in Finland as a refugee and resident, Ye Yint has performed his work actively. His 2016 collection, We hate war, mother (Sivuvalo) includes poems in Burmese as well as in English and Finnish translation that detail his harrowing experiences of political turmoil and persecution, and finding shelter and friendship even in the face of cruelty and war.
Following this powerful opening act is rapper Aloe Veera, a fresh poetic force to be reckoned with. Veera got her start at various open mic venues years ago, and now tours and performs across the country with her lively and soulful hip hop act suffused with empathy and panache.
Next up is our international guest star of the night, Julie Egdell, who brings her poetic and musical multimedia vision of a highly personal cultural fusion to Helsinki all the way from north-east England. Based on her 2017 collection Alice in Winterland (Smokestack), Julie’s performance tells a story of “exile, heartbreak, loneliness and longing, about falling down a cultural and linguistic rabbit hole”. She is joined by publisher and performance poet Andy Willoughby, a Teesside troubadour and traveler with a strange affinity for Finland – and the North in general.
Egdell’s tale of a Soviet-style Alice precedes the final astonishing act of the Multilingual Poetry Jam, as a troupe of musicians takes the stage as Ramithawi. The band is headed by singer-songwriter Rami Almithawi, who has established himself as a powerful and artistic force for good in the short time he has spent in Finland. Singing in Arabic, Spanish, and even Finnish, Rami serves up heart-rendingly touching and electrifying emotional landscapes that radiate loss, love, and poetry.
After these glowing, glimmering performances it’s time for that all-important and perhaps most wildly anticipated part of the night, the open mic. As always, performances in absolutely any language at all are welcome and encouraged; any style or genre is allowed, provided that the texts or songs are the performer’s own original material. If you want to take part, sign up in advance by emailing the Poetry Jam MC at email@example.com with the title “OPEN MIC”.
After the first 8 sign-ups, there are still 7 more slots available at the venue, rounding out to a total of 15 different performers. Let’s try to get as many different languages on stage as we possibly can!
So tervetuloa, bienvenue, ကြိုဆိုပါတယ်, bienvenidos, أهلا وسهلا, and welcome one and all to this very special multilingual Poetry Jam!
The event is hosted by long-time poetry activist and bilingual hype man Kasper Salonen, and organised by the Helsinki Poetry Connection together with literary organisation Nuoren Voiman Liitto.
The HPC has received grants from funds such as the Kone Foundation, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Alfred Kordelin Foundation, and the City of Helsinki.
Vice Chair, Helsinki Poetry Connection