UMEÅ. Littfest has become a literary event of ever growing dimensions. Thousands of visitors poured into Umeå Folkets Hus for a weekend packed with readings, recitals, seminars, debates, interviews and musical entertainment.
This annual event has since its start in 2006 drawn many national, international and local writers to a gathering where they have the opportunity to meet the readers.
Such was the crush inside Folkets hus that I heard someone in the crowd complain about the venue being to small to host a large cultural event like this. The irony is that Littfest is a local saying that literally means ”a little party”.
All tickets had been sold out a couple of days before the opening and by pure chance I managed to buy a spare one for Saturday that somebody had returned to the main desk.
For the penniless and ticket-less, an evening free of charge was held at the art museum Bildmuseet on Friday night, where well-known singer and poet Mattias Alkberg from Luleå, entertained the crowds, as did Ida Linde a young poet, born in Umeå.
This years fest also included special seminars of literature from a queer point of view, as well as one that discussed the cultural position of the Sami literature and their traditional singing (yoiking).
Finland´s century-long independence was underlined by a solid presence. Among the writers and artists were Merete Mezzarella, Sirpa Kähkönen, Peter Sandström and the musical outfit Vasas Fauna och Flora. Norway was represented by Åsne Seierstad and Geir Gulliksen, and Iceland by poet Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir
The recent passing of the Swedish literary gigant Torgny Lindgren put some damper on this great occasion for the freedom of expression. A minute´s silence was accordingly observed to honour his memory and literary heritage.
The northern counties of Norrbotten and Västerbotten had, naturally, a big representation during the weekend. Anita Salomonsson, Anna Holmström Degerman, Mikael Berglund, Gunnar Balgård, Katarina Kieri, Ellacarin Blind and Pär Hansson were present, to mention but a few.
Swedish writers/artists from the south – Björn Ranelid, Jason Diakité (also known as Timbuktu), Carl Johan De Geer and Agneta Pleijel favoured Umeå with their presence, as did international names like Susan Falludi (USA), Anny Romand (France), Ishmael Beah (Sierra Leone), Kira Pietrek (Poland) and Marija Andrijašević (Croatia), to name a few.