Britta & Thérèse booksigning at Bridge of Words
Blog,  Poetry,  Poets

Bridge of Words: prose & poetry exchange

Featuring Britta Stenberg, Swedish poet, novelist, playwright and artist.

Britta Stenberg recently collaborated over four seasons, across the hemispheres, with Ulverstone poet and writer Thérèse Corfiatis. Their poetry book Bridge of Words was published in 2022. This week they met in person for the first time, as Britta and her husband Krister have arrived in Tasmania. It was my pleasure to meet them with Thérèse, and share some of their stories. Britta and Krister are from Rentjärn, a village, with a lake and mountains, in Swedish Lapland. The temperature there this week has ranged from -3 to 11 degrees, as early Spring approaches.  This visit made me think about the stunning show of the northern and the southern aurora in this past week, as the solar wind caught both polar latitudes.

Thérèse and I met late last year at the Tasmanian Poetry Festival, where she was a guest poet. She has over 20 publications in her back catalogue. We soon met again at her home, with her friend Hazel Girolamo, and conceived the Bridge of Words event, set around Britta and Krister’s travel diary.

Thérèse and Britta have written a beautiful book of poetry, communicating through instant first world technology, They met because of their mutual friendship with the late Tom Langston OAM. Originally a Yorkshire man, Tom lived here in Tasmania on the NW coast.  He was a respected musician, researcher, music teacher and community choir master who met Britta by chance during his travels in Sweden. They reached out in friendly conversation at a railway station and exchanged details. Tom eventually visited her home in Swedish Lapland. Thérèse was a friend and deep admirer of Tom’s work, attending many of his musical soirees. Recommending each to the other, he felt they had a lot in common., creatively. When Tom unexpectadly died their on-line friendship intensified and Bridge of Words was born, dedicated to Tom’s memory.

Britta & Thérèse – book signing

The poetry reflects a love of language, for the world we inhabit and the relationships that enfold us. Britta talks of nature, essences and the sisterhood, an understanding between two poets. In A Memory of Cascade Gardens, Thérèse writes, ‘declare your pact with beauty’, and in Music of Water Sweden, Britta’s final line ‘streaming within the rivers symphony’, all truly Romantic words. As they experienced summer, autumn, winter and spring they found themselves in a form of seasonal synchronicity, and a seesawing of the equinoxes. This is the first time that Britta has written poetry in English. She read a poem in Swedish on Sunday, taking us into abstraction, rhythm and the cadences of language. This was an engaging moment which caught our upmost attention, and flushed out Swedish speaker Esther Campion, who was in attendance. Conversation blossomed in the break.

Thérèse Corfiatis, writer & poet Esther Campion, Britta
Krister Stenberg chats with Tasmania writer & poet Geoff Miller, Hazel Girolamo in the background
Yvonne Gluyas, local poetry organiser, poet & performer with Britta & Thérèse

This well-attended exchange, poetry reading, and open mic event was held on Sunday March 5th 2023 at The Playhouse, Devonport. I am grateful to have taken part and have the opportunity to MC. All our networks came together, and we shared a rich open mic. Each time poetry is embraced I learn something new, and always feel affirmed that we must reach out and be in the world. Thank you Thérèse, for all the hard work on the North West Coast, and to the northern Tasmania poets who came along to support Bridge of Words. We all left knowing that Thérèse and Britta are planning their next collaboration …

Yvonne Gluyas, Carol Easton, poet from Launceston, yours truly standing behind, Marilyn Arnold, poet and workshop organiser, Launceston,
& Esther Campion at the book table.

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