Estonian Institute brings poetical slant to Finnish tourism

Estonian Institute Logo. Source: Eesti Instituut

An interactive poetry map takes readers on a journey around Estonia, but in the language of its neighbour to the north, Finland.

According to the Estonian Institute's Finnish office, the poetry map, ''Runokartta'', will bring up an Estonian poem, translated into Finnish, which sums up the spirit of the location clicked on, be it an urban street in Lasnamäe, or a small village in deepest Võru County.

"Publishing is a 'poor' business, especially publishing translations, and there is, therefore, a risk that many important and interesting texts will not be published. You need to be inventive and find new ways. The idea of a poetry map is wonderful!" said Sanna Immanen, Head of the Estonian Institute in Finland, of the initiative.

The regionally-based collection, supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation SKR, and transcends the garden-variety guidebook and allows tourists and others to get a fresh perspective on any part of Estonia, and at their own pace, the Institute explains.

Translators Varja Arola and Anniina Ljokkoi have brought their efforts to a wider audience, naturally focussed on Finland and the many visitors to Estonia that make the ferry trip.

"We want to try if it's possible to make cruise tourists to read poetry when poems open up easily from a smartphone and say something surprising about the location of a tourist. There are poems even about the Port of Tallinn port," says Ms Ljokkoi, a Finnish translator who lives in Tallinn.

The poetry map is due to be launched in time for the start of the tourist season in May, with new poems will gradually appearing on the map until the end of the year, the Institute says.

The Estonian Institute, founded in the late 1980s when the country was still under Soviet occupation, is supported by the Estonian Ministry of Culture and aims to promote Estonia, its language and culture.

It is a part of the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC), and has an office in Hungary, as well as Estonia and Finland. The three countries are the only sovereign nations where Finno-Ugric languages are the official, national tongue.

The institute's site is here.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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