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Something I learned about Poetry Riders Guest post by Kata Suurpalo


My contribution to Poetry Ride, as an intern at the Finnish Institute in Estonia, was to write short introductions of poets who have taken part in the Poetry ride along the seven years. As I had watched the great film by Alisa Javits and listened to poems on the Poetry Ride’s website countless times I felt like I had seen the Poetry Ride, if not been part of it. But something was missing; I knew almost nothing about the actual Poetry Riders. Now it was time to do something about it. During these seven years different poets have taken part in the Poetry Ride. Some have been famous and established but interesting more marginal poets have been seen on the Ride, as well. Some have been experienced and some at the beginning of their career. It’s easy to understand Igor Kotjuh, when he says on the Ride’s film that the Poetry Ride is an excellent example of how you can at the same time be original and belong to a group that has a common goal. For me some of the most interesting poets were the Poetry Riders of 2011.

Theme for that year was minority languages which meant that all the poets participating in the Ride write in a language that only a minority in their countries speak. Minorities were Livonian in Latvia, represented by Valts Ernštreits, Russian in Estonia, represented by Igor Kotjuh, Northern Sami in Sweden, represented by Rose-Marie Huuva and Swedish in Finland, represented by Agneta Enckell. Through poetry they can not only maintain the language and culture but also offer new and possibly rare experiences to public. While getting familiar with Poetry Riders’ production and activities I was surprised how versatile the poets are. They do not only write poems but translate literature, work as journalists, run publishing houses, work in politics, do research, teach at universities, play in rock bands, work as psychologists, make art and a lot more. I found out that all the poets taking part in the Poetry Ride have important things to say and are extremely interesting to listen to even if you don’t understand the language . Hopefully we will have the possibility to see the bus driving through different countries many more years to come.

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