Ratatosk is a one-year collaboration between ICORN and three Nordic Literature Festivals, Littfest (Umeå), LiteratureXChange (Aarhus) and Kapittel (Stavanger). It was launched in Umeå the first week of March, just before the Litfest was officially cancelled because of the corona virus.
Ratatosk aims to introduce ICORN writers and their work to a wider public and literary scene, and to create opportunities to network and develop professionally. Ratatosk also offers the possibility to strengthen the skills of local ICORN programme coordinators.
Since ICORN was established in 2006, 74 cities have joined the network giving shelter to persecuted writers, journalists and artist where they can continue to work freely. 45 of these cities of refuge are in Sweden, Norway and Denmark and the majority who arrive are writers, journalists and poets.
“It can be difficult to establish as a writer in a new country. Social or professional networks often need to be built from scratch while the language is unfamiliar and the landscape of publishers, media outlets and literary arenas to promote and advance the authorship is bewildering. Translation and networks are pre-requisites to make their works accessible to their new Nordic colleagues and to the wider public.”
Karin Hansson, Project Manager of Ratatosk and National ICORN Coordinator in Sweden.
ICORN and the literature festivals Littfest, Kapittel and LiteratureXchange initiated the collaboration Ratatosk to meet some of these challenges and to open a whole new world to a wider public. Ratatosk will run throughout 2020 and provide writers in ICORN residency with a professional platform and network, strengthen the cooperation between literature festivals and ICORN cities in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, and emphasize the knowledge of literature and freedom of expression for ICORN Coordinators. The project is supported by funds from Nordic Culture Point, the Nordic Culture Fund and the Swedish Arts Council.
The coronavirus is limiting contact between people all over the world, but we are doing the opposite. By translating texts, we increase communication so that others can take part in other people’s living conditions and struggles. What we do is an important political statement.
Venezuelan journalist Milagros Socorro to the Swedish newspaper Västerbotten-Kuriren
Based on a Norweigan model “Tekst I flukt”
The Norwegian Translators' Association and Norwegian PEN have for several years organized translation workshops, Tekst i flukt, as part of the Kapittel Festival in Stavanger, Norway. They clearly see the many benefits of establishing the contacts between the writers and translators, and working with translation workshops:
- "Tekt i flukt" has increased the professional and social network of both ICORN writers and translators, and raised public awareness to the conditions of freedom of expression in other parts of the world. Ratatosk gives ICORN writers the opportunity to reach further through to the Nordic book market, and introduces new, significant voices to the festival audience at Kapittel, Littfest and LiteratureXchange. At the same time the festivals get a larger Nordic network, and the opportunity to share experiences across borders.
Siri O. Risdal, festival director of Kapittel, Stavanger International Festival for Literature and Freedom of Speech
ICORN writers from Norway, Denmark and Sweden
The festivals organise a translator workshop where two writers/translators couple and present their texts in original and translated language during the respective festival.
Participating writers and translators at Littfest, Umeå, Sweden, scheduled for 11-13 March are writer and journalist Milagros Socorro from Aarhus/Venezuela with translator Kirsten A. Nielsen, rapper Khaled Harara from Gothenburg/Palestine with translator Sara Anaya, and Weli Ayup from Bergen/China with translator Rune Moen.
Littfest was also scheduled to run a parallel project “Littfest Translates”, which included two additional Swedish based ICORN writers and translators: journalist Mukhtar Wafayee from Malmö/Afghanistan with translator Namndar Nasser, and poet and singer Ola Husamou from Eskilstuna/Syria with translator Anna Jansson.
- Littfest has grown to become Sweden's largest literary festival. This is an obligation in itself. Although many people visit us for relaxation, festivities and education, we feel a responsibility to remind everyone of other aspects included in the concept of literature, and how closely it relates to issues such as freedom of speech and democracy. Sometimes we take for granted that all this, which is culture and literature, is just style, form and entertainment. Littfest Translates and Ratatosk remind us why it is a hundred times more important”.
Erik Jonsson, Coordinator, Littfest
The translation workshop moves to LiteratureXchange in Aarhus, Denmark 15-17 June. Writer and performer Noufel Bouzeboudja from Fanø/Algeria will work with translator Kamal Ahmane, writer and journalist Suzanne Ibrahim from Östersund/Syria with translator Anna Jansson, and Asieh Amini from Trondheim/Iran with translator Tove Bakke.
- As an international literature festival, LiteratureXchange. organized by Aarhus Literature Center, we prioritize international and Nordic collaborations. It is important for us to manifest Aarhus as a city with a vibrant cultural life on an international level. Aarhus has been a dedicated city of refuge for more than ten years and hosted several writers in the ICORN programme. Translation is essential to be able to share foreign-language literature with a Danish audience. We have launched several translator projects and work with many translators in different contexts. Ratatosk is a welcome addition to this work. In 2020 LiteratureXchange focus on the UN's global goals "Gender equality" and "Less inequality in the know", a topic highly relevant for many writers associated with ICORN.
– Jette Sunesen, Manager of Aarhus Centre for Literature.
Last stop for the translation trilogy is Kapittel, Stavanger, Norway, 17 – 19 September. Here Benyamin Farnam, Oslo/Iran will work with translator Øyvind Berg, Omid Shams, Aarhus/Iran with translator Nazila Kivi, and Ashraf Bagheri, Uppsala/Iran with translator Fakhroddin Fani.
Extended professional networks for ICORN programme coordinators, festival managers, translators and ICORN writers
Experiences shared by Danish, Norwegian and Swedish ICORN cities show that local ICORN programme coordinators also miss a larger network and knowledge about the literary scene across the borders, and for literature festivals to interact and exchange experience. Ratatosk therefore encourages the festival managers and ICORN coordinators of the participating cities to take part in programme, network meetings and side events where participants can meet with colleagues, publishers and audience.
To provide opportunities for further professional development for participating ICORN writers, the programme also includes a writing course in June 2020 at The Foundation Biskops Arnö outside Stockholm. This course, also open to other ICORN writers in Sweden, is carried out in collaboration with the Swedish Writers Union and Biskops Arnö. Participants and collaborators of Ratatosk will also be present at the Book & Library Fair in Gothenburg 2020 when Gothenburg City, the Book Fair and ICORN celebrates Gothenburg as a city of refuge for 25 years.