Last night, while most of Reykjavík was in full Airwaves swing (some attending in Halloween masks, which I very much appreciated), I was enjoying a much different kind of cultural event: the ljóðarúta, or poetry-bus. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll just go ahead and quote my own description of the event:
Under the guidance of poet Sigurlín Bjarney Gísladóttir, passengers will be driven around the city listening to the work of poets who board the bus at stops along the way and then “disappear into the evening darkness.”
Among the poets reading during the hour and a half journey are Gerður Kristný, Sindri Freysson, Þórdís Gísladóttir, Heiða Eiríks, Bjarki Karlsson, Kári Tulinius and Valgerður Þóroddsdóttir.
The poetry bus reading is the closing night event of the Reykjavík Reads literature festival, organized by the Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature office.
I decided on a whim to attend this event, even though all the readings would be in Icelandic. My thinking was that I would probably only understand a quarter—or if I was lucky, a third—of what was going on, but that the experience itself would still be really enjoyable and good practice all at the same time. All of these assumptions ended up being true.
The bus left from Harpa, and I was briefly worried that I wouldn’t find it (the parking area in front of Harpa is rather big, there were a lot of people out, and there wasn’t really a big HERE’S THE POETRY BUS sign anywhere, not to mention that I was looking for an actual Strætó city bus, while we ended up being on a tour bus). But seeing me wander about, one of the people from the City of Literature office took pity and gave me a holler before I turned around and gave up.
I’m hoping that the City of Lit office will publish a full list of the participating poets, because while I didn’t understand all of what was being said, I understood enough to be interested in tracking down the work and spending some time reading and understanding the poems in earnest.