Trafika Europe has just hosted and presented “Northern Idyll”, a great week of literary events featuring new literature from Europe’s northern islands, as a part of the Edinburgh summer festival, at Summerhall, August 5th-10th, 2014.
Some of the best Scottish writers and storytellers took us on a journey, performing poetry from Scottish and Irish Gaelic and from the Scots dialect of the Shetland Islands, as well as great new fiction translated from Icelandic novelist, Jón Kalman, Faroe Islands novelist Jóanes Nielsen, and from northern Norway by Roy Jacobsen. Performing poets and fiction writers included Edinburgh’s two top poets: the just-former Makar (Poet Laureate) of Edinburgh, Ron Butlin and Edinburgh’s newly-inaugurated Makar, Christine De Luca, as well as Scottish nature poet Mandy Haggith, sublime storyteller Ian Stephen, and remarkable Scottish singer Kirsty Law.
These events celebrated the launch of Trafika Europe’s quarterly journal – our first issue shares this theme of Europe’s northern islands – and it was quite an auspicious launch. This year’s Edinburgh festival was the largest literary and arts festival in the history of the world, and Summerhall is the top arts venue in the festival – indeed it is known as the largest private arts space in Europe. What’s more, Trafika Europe shared billing with Summerhall’s flagship production for this year’s festival. Artistic Director Rupert Thomson called Trafika Europe’s week of launch events “the highlight of our literary programme and an important part of our Festival as a whole.” It’s hard to imagine a better launch than this!
Europe’s northern islands have a timeless, enchanting atmosphere shrouded in mystery, expressed in beautiful poetry and stories. This was explored in the works performed, and audiences were also immersed in this ambience with projected audio and visual, giving a mood and continuity to these evenings not just as readings but as performances, complete with song.
We’re grateful to Summerhall for this memorable week, to their enormously dedicated staff and to our own great crew, headed by technical director Mark Boston, for all their hard work preparing and pulling off these events. Thanks are also due to NORLA (Norwegian Literature Abroad), the Icelandic Literature Center, and the Gaelic Books Council for their kind offers of support for these events.