Literature as a European mother tongue: In our series “One is a CROWD”, we introduce you to authors from all over Europe who will be involved in the CROWD omnibus reading tour, taking place from May to July 2016, featuring 100 authors who will be travelling through 15 European countries. We asked them five questions about text production, reception and mediation. In case you were wondering what a literary activist from Finnland looks like, meet Henriikka Tavi! 

Who are you as a poet/writer/author/artist?

As a poet, author, artist I´m some kind of a chameleon, changing form and colour.
Still I think the themes that I handle in my works must always be very near to me: I have to know what I write and literature for me is a place of truth.

What kind of literary tradition, authors or concepts have you found inspirational for your work?

First of all I think the most important background to me is philosophy, especially the German big philosophers (Kant, Hegel, Schelling, Heidegger etc.) Secondly I often kind of translate ideas and impressions from other art forms into poetry or try to do “it” in poetry. Thirdly I have been inspired from concrete poetry, Getrude Stein, Beckett, Kenneth Goldsmith, Finnish Modernistic and Contemporary poetry, minimalistic poetry, Ingebor Bachman, Herta Müller, César Vallejo, Sergei Zavjalov, Olga Tokarczuk, Henri Michaux, Leevi Lehto, Eino Leino etc. etc.

Please name several contemporary authors who you think are most significant – in any possible sense – and why?

I think I´m not able to answer this question, I don´t read enough.

What do you think about the current state of the relationship between the author and the reader? Is there a mentionable shift in that relationship through New media as in terms of being alienated on the one hand or being enlivened on the other hand?

I speak now only about Finnish contemporary poetry:
At the same pace of Internet becoming the first media the concept of what means to be a Finnish poet has changed very much. At the first decade of this millennium the poet communities started to use the term poet for anyone performing poems or being active in the poetry field or publishing poems on blogs. This means that the new Finnish poetry has been very communal for a quite long time already. And this means also that the readers are quite often also poets, or that the poets are very near to the grass roots, and in that sense maybe also approachable. New media has been remarkable in this evolvement, but it´s not the whole story.

There always have been interactions and disputes between the discourses of poetry and politics. Do you see possibilities of emancipatory strategies concerning contemporary interactions between poetic and political discourses and agendas? How can/should/do these literary strategies look like?
Yes, I do see possibilities. But now the political situation in Finland and maybe in a number other countries too has culminated to a situation where I kind of see more possibilities in being active in politics in the “normal way” than in different artistic and indirect strategies. At the same time it seems to me quite important to hold on the importance of that there is a strong and independent literature and poetry.

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