Poetry scenes

In the Runokohtauksia project (Poetry scenes), poets from Turku have translated into Finnish poems by poets writing in different languages, without knowing the original languages. Their working method is unique: the poems were translated into Finnish by teams in meetings through discussion and by asking questions. Some teams also included a cultural interpreter.

In 2011–2014, members of the Runokohtauksia group delved deep into other cultures, their poetic traditions and imageries. Their slow and painstaking but mutually respectful method of translating poetry was the only possible alternative because the group’s Finnish poets did not know the languages from which they were translating. In fact, the poems they translated could only have been translated by poets

“At meetings, twenty people with eight languages discussed metre and the modernism of poetry, language, politics and art, experiences of war and prison, multilingualism, sounds and music, and recited and listened to Finnish translations, agreed about recital and travel schedules, ate together, took photos, asked questions and contemplated things.” Says Marja Mäenpää, coordinator of the Runokohtauksia project.

The project also produced a series of radio programmes, an exhibition that travelled libraries in Southwest Finland in 2014 and a tour to promote the project’s working method. A Runokohtauksia anthology will be published in spring 2015.

The poets were Galina Inkeroinen and Andrei Karpin (Russian), Chiman Karim and Allahmoradi Mohammadamin (Kurdish), Hashim Matouq and Sadik Al-Husseini (Arabic), Ainhoa González Llano (Spanish), Shahla Ezadi (Persian), Diana Mistera (Italian) and Abdi Abshir Dhoore (Somali).

The Finnish translators were the poets Esa Hirvonen, Juha Kulmala, Timo Harju, Terhi Hannula, Tommi Parkko and Daniil Kozlov. The cultural interpreters were Marja Liisa Valtanen, Lora Karim, Ali Rabiee, Irinja Karpina and Alas Ali. The group’s coordinator was Marja Mäenpää.

The Runokohtauksia project received funding from the Foundation in 2012 and in 2013 in the Multilingualism and Art funding round. The group also worked at the Saari Residence for a week in August 2012.