On stage

Warda Ahmed
Warda Ahmed is a cartoonist, teacher and activist. She is part of the Comics and Migration project. In this project, researchers and comics artists examine together how comics represent migration.

Khaled Alesmael


Khaled Alesmael is a multi-awarded journalist, gay refugees activist and the author of the Syrian novel Selamlik, which is the first Syrian novel telling the story of the revolution and war through a homoerotic perspective, as the protagonist is a gay Muslim man from the Eastern part of Syria. The novel has been translated from Arabic to Swedish and published in Sweden. Alesmael’s works have appeared in the world media.


Inger-Mari Aikio

The poet Inger-Mari Aikio lives in Pulmankijärvi, Nuorgam. She has written 10 books in Sámi. The latest book of poetry is bilingual 69 čuoldda – 69 pylvästä containing erotic poems from a woman’s point of view. Her poems have been published, among others, in Spanish, Swahili, Hungarian, English, Arabic, German, and Finnish. Aikio has toured many international poetry festivals around the world. As an artist, she has also made documentaries and music videos. Inger-Mari Aikio was awarded the State Children’s Culture Award in 2015.

Hassan Blasim

Hassan Blasim is an Iraqi-born writer, filmmaker and director who moved to Finland in 2004. Blasim studied film in Baghdad and made two award-winning short films. He has been named one of the most prominent living Arabic writers and is one of Finland’s most successful writers internationally. Blasim’s debut book, Madman of Freedom Square, was released in 2009 and received great reviews worldwide. In 2014, he won the prestigious Literature Prize of the British Independent for his short story collection The Iraqi Christ (2013). Hassan Blasim’s first novel Allah 99 was published in February 2019. All Hassan Blasim’s books are translated into English and Finnish.

Aya Chalabi
Aya Chalabi is a short story writer born in Baghdad and based in Helsinki. She studies at the Faculty of Arts in University of Helsinki and is a member of the multilingual poetry project Sivuvalo. 
Chalabi has been in correspondence with the acclaimed Arabian author Inaam Kachachi. Chalabi and Inaam represent two different generations. Both were born in Baghdad, and both live today in exile. Anaam was born in 1956 and Aya in 1995. In their e-mail letters, the two authors corresponded with each other about writing, freedom, language, women, exile and homeland. At the same time, Anaam oversees Aya’s new short story.

Dorothea Grünzweig

The poet and translator Dorothea Grünzweig is a German and a Finn. In her poems, Grünzweig, who has lived in Finland for 30 years, deals with nature, language and culture and their effects on the human mind. She has released six poetry collections, including the Niedersachsen Foundation’s Lyric Prize (1997), the Schiller Foundation’s Anke Bennholdt-Thomsen Prize for Female Poets (2010), and the PEN Center’s Kurt Sigel Poetry Prize 2018. Grünzweig also translates Finnish poetry into German.

Heidi Hänninen

In fairy-tale sessions by community and visual artist Heidi Hänninen, children get to experience the story of the cat Seesami. Heidi Hänninen is a Kontula-based artist, who has also made the wall painting ”Seesami’s Journey” at the Kontula Square.

Inaam Kachachi

Inaam Kachachi is a Baghdadi-born documentary maker and author based in France. She has published four novels which are translated into numerous languages ​​and all but one have been nominated for the prestigious International Prize for Arabic Fiction. In addition to the novels, Kachachi has published two non-fiction books.

Kachachi has been in correspondence with the Finnish short story writer Aya Chalabi. Chalabi and Inaam represent two different generations. Both were born in Baghdad, and both live today in exile. Anaam was born in 1956 and Aya in 1995. In their e-mail letters, the two authors corresponded to each other about writing, freedom, language, women, exile and homeland. At the same time, Anaam oversees Aya’s new short story.

Kristiina Kass

Kristiina Kass is a popular and award-winning Estonian-born children’s author and illustrator, who has published 13 children’s books in Estonian. The most popular of these are Samuel’s magic pillow (Samueli võlupadi), Kasper and the five wise cats (Kasper ja viis tarka kassi), and the Sorceress Nöpönenä (Nõianeiu Nöbinina). The latter has also been made into a 10-part television series.

Kristiina Kass likes to use a lot of humour and fantasy in her stories. Her writing style has been compared with Roald Dahl and Astrid Lindgren. In addition to writing and illustrating, Kass has translated Finnish children’s book favorites from Risto Räppääjä to Onneli and Anneli. Kristiina Kass has lived in Finland for almost 30 years.

Polina Kopylova

Polina Kopylova is a Russian poet and freelance journalist currently living in Kontula. The poems of Kopylova have been translated into Finnish and English.

Daniel Malpica

Helsinki-based artist Daniel Malpica has published poetry collections Paénesis (RDLPS, 2007), Marduk: Senectus Signum (Bakcheia, 2009) and Ex-Aether (Molinos de, 2012). The escribe con X (Written with X, 2014) text has been translated into English, Finnish, Swedish, German, and Catalan. Malpica translated and published the poems of the Sámi poet Niillas Holmberg in Spanish a few years ago.

As a multimedia artist, Malpica has designed and directed over a dozen experimental literary events in Helsinki, Berlin, Malmö, Aarhus, Jyväskylä and Copenhagen. The Malpica Mutant Language project received a grant from the Kone Foundation in 2018. He is a member of the board of PEN Finland. Malpica was born in Mexico.

Emmi Nuorgam
Photo: Juuli Aschan

Emmi Nuorgam is a journalist, author, and a public figure. Nuorgam has been writing, for example, to the Finlandia nominee and the audience-Finlandia-winner Sankaritarinoita tytöille (ja kaikille muille) and Sankaritarinoita kaikille non-fiction books. She is a Sami who has lost her mother tongue, and for whom literature and culture are the most important keys to well-being.

Johanna Rojola
Comic artist Johanna Rojola is part of the Comics and Migration project. In this project, researchers and comics artists examine together how comics represent migration.

Nelli Ruotsalainen
Photo: Hanna Tyrväinen

Nelli Ruotsalainen is a California-born, Helsinki-based feminist activist. Her first collection of poetry, Täällä en pyydä enää anteeksi, was published in 2018 by Pesä Kustannus, a feminist publishing platform that Ruotsalainen co-founded. Täällä en pyydä enää anteeksi was nominated for the prestigious 2019 Tanssiva Karhu -award. Having roamed the realms of angst, shame, and gendered violence in her soaring debut, she currently explores place and belonging through queer and critical whiteness perspectives at embodied and societal levels.

Aleksis Salusjärvi

Aleksis Salusjärvi is a Helsinki-based critic, editor and major consumer of poetry. He also works as a literacy teacher in hospital schools, special education and prisons.