The project seeks to increase the cultural connection and language comprehension in the Nordic-Baltic region through creating meeting places for people from different countries and cultures, facilitating intercultural exchange and contributing to accessibility of culture. Communication through culture and literature helps to create a constructive dialogue about values that are important for the whole Nordic-Baltic region.
Children and adults in the Baltic countries get opportunities to meet Nordic authors, to learn about the Nordic countries and the newest Nordic literature. Such meetings inspire, give intercultural experience, open new perspectives and topics to discuss from a different cultural angle. By sharing their experience and creativity, authors can inspire children and youngsters to read more, to become more creative and even start writing. Authors not only give practical tips for reading and writing, but also often become inspiring role models for children and young people. Since the start of the project in 2015, almost 30 authors have already visited Latvia.
The project was initiated by the Nordic Council of Ministers offices in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and Federation of Associations Norden back in 2015. The project has been supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers, other contributors - CBSS and Nordplus.
In 2015 the literary event “In the Crosswind” with the participation of the Nordic and Baltic writers – Rosa Liksom from Finland, Sigitas Parulskis and Undine Radzeviciute from Lithuania and Meelis Friedenthal from Estonia promoted the Nordic Library week’s cooperation network and also was a launching event of the new Nordic writers’ visits program in the Baltic countries.
The programme developed further in 2016, yielding a whole series of writer visits in Latvia. In April the Finnish poet Heli Laaksonen and Estonian poet Leelo Tungal, together with the Latvian poet and publisher Inese Zandere and poet and translator Guntars Godiņš, toured around Latvia to meet readers not only in Riga but also small-town libraries and schools: Limbaži, Zvejniekciems, Kuldīga, Talsi and Saldus. Leelo Tungal’s joyful wordplays were published in Latvian in 2014 while Heli Laaksonen’s first book for children, “Aapine”, was published in Latvian in 2015. In October the Icelandic writer and professor of art history Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir visited Riga and Daugavpils and had a meeting at the Latgale (Daugavpils) Central Library and held a lecture on Icelandic art and culture at Daugavpils University. A special guest of the Nordic Library Week in November was Swedish writer and animator Henrik Tamm, who introduced his book “Ninja Timmy and the Forgotten Childhood” – recently translated into Latvian. He had successful visits in Riga and Cesis.
Prose Readings is an annual literary event in Latvia, organized every December since 1995 and presenting an opportunity of get-together to Latvian writers and their readers. Prose Readings in 2016 featured writers from Estonia, Finland, Lithuania and Slovenia. A meeting with Finnish writer Emmi Itäranta and a discussion “A Message to the Future Writers” with Finnish Kjell Westö and Estonian Rein Raud was supported by the Nordic Writer Crossing Borders.
Comics exhibition “Tempora mutantur” of Finnish contemporary comic association “Kutikuti” was shown in Riga, Cēsis, Daugavpils and Ventspils. All events were accompanied by workshops, led by Finnish and Latvian artists and well-attended by school children and young people.
Eight (8) Nordic writers visited Latvia and met with local readers in 2017: Sjón and Steinunn Helgadottir from Iceland; Johanna Sinisalo, Zinaida Lindén, children’s book illustrators Linda Bondestam and Jenny Lucander from Finland; Jacob Wegelius from Sweden; and children’s book illustrator and writer Mari Kanstad Johnsen from Norway. The writers participated in 28 events across the country, with more than a thousand people in total attending the book openings, workshops, discussions and literary festivals arranged in Daugavpils, Gulbene, Liepāja and Rīga.
Seven (7) Nordic authors visited Latvia and took part in 25 different events during 2018: author, illustrator and art director Rui Tenreiro from Sweden, who creates narrative experiences through storytelling. His works have been published in seven different languages. Danish author Kristian Bang Foss, who took part in the Latvian Book Fair in Riga and talked about the European Union Prize for Literature. He also presented the Latvian translation of his award-winning book “Døden kører Audi.” Finno-Swedish writer Henrika Andersson, who visited the western part of Latvia and had several meetings with school children in Pāvilosta, Skrunda, Saldus, Druva and Kuldīga. Faroese writer Rakel Helmsdal visited Liepāja and Riga, while the children books’ author and artist from Iceland, Áslaug Jónsdóttir, went to Riga, Sigulda and Jūrmala. Finnish writer Juuli Niemi visited a number of schools in Riga and met with young readers, while Meg Nömgård, Director of the Land of Legends form Sweden, took part in a storytelling event.
During 2019, ten (10) Nordic authors visited Latvia, participating in 40 events throughout the country and a special attention was given to children´s literature. Three of the artists/authors invited to participate — Finnish illustrator, comic book artist and art educator Anna Sailamaa, Swedish writer Jujja Wieslander and Swedish illustrator Linda Bundestam — work primarily in children’s literature. During Nordic Literature Week, Linda Bundestam visited libraries in Broceni, Saldus and Liepaja to offer creative workshops for children. Among them was Finnish poet Heli Laaksonen, Norwegian and Sámi playwright and author Rawdna Carita Eira, Finnish writer Riitta Jalonen, storyteller Meg Nömgård from Sweden and storyteller Ivanir Sibylla Hasson from Norway. During the Prose Readings literary festival, Mako Ishizuka, a Japanese artist living in Sweden, visited Latvia and in Riga presented a “map of thoughts” related to her research on language and cultural translation.
In January the Finnish poet Heli Laaksonen and Latvian poet and translator Guntars Godiņš toured around the western part of Latvia to meet readers in Alsunga, Pāvilosta, Liepāja, Kuldīga as well as in the Riga. A wider audience was gathered at the event in Riga
In 2020-2021, at least 30 Nordic authors will visit the Baltic countries. Additionally, a couple of authors from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will visit the Nordic countries, and a Nordic – Baltic creative writing camp for youth will be held in Latvia in summer, 2020.