Dear Friends
May 20th, 2010
Leena Krohn (born 1947) is one of the most renowned Finnish authors. She has received numerous book awards, and her works have been translated into several languages. Krohn’s large and varied body of work includes novels, short stories, children's books, and essays. Krohn participated in the Seoul International Writer’s Festival arranged by the Korean Literature Translation Institute this May.

by Leena Krohn, Stilton author

The programme here is much more hectic than I expected. It is almost 10pm and the “Free Talk” event is still continuing at the Literature Institute. We have so far heard lectures by 15 authors, and even more welcoming speeches, one of them written by me (I attach it here).

Maja Lee Langwad’s long poem was one of the most impressive performances - every line started with the words “I am angry”. But I preferred Singaporean Edwin Thumboo’s style, because it was more elegant. Halgrimur Helgason’s poetry reading reminded me of the Beat Generation and of Pentti Saarikoski.

"Dear friends! Love for literature has united us here in Seoul near Buddhas birthday. I am very grateful about the opportunity to get to know this magnificent metropol, both very old and very young, so full of energy and colors, history and future. It is a joy, too, to be acquainted with so many talented colleagues and their work from this country and many other countries around the globe.

I think that every work of literature is building up the tremendous architecture of world literature, a web, which is much older net than internet and, perhaps, more lasting, too. Books are links, which connect living and dead, epochs, cultures and minds.

My roots are in northern Europe and in western civilization, but love for literature, the will to write and the pleasure to read are certainly the same in Korea and in Finland. The tools of any writer are language, knowledge and imagination. Reading and writing are founded on one of the most important and strangest qualities of Homo sapiens: understanding signs, understanding that one thing can represent another thing. This property is as important for people as photosynthesis is for plants.

Books are not just any objects. They are made of thoughts, of ideas. You can destroy and burn printed books, but it is impossible to kill words, ideas and thoughts. They are the indestructible and immortal heritage of humankind."