Jutun juuri – Root of the Chatter

Writing competition for 15–21-year-old writers living in member cities of the UNESCO Cities of Literature Network.

Tool for communication. Shaper of our view of the world. Part of our identity, and a bridge between people. Languages are all of the above. 

In 2023 Kuhmo celebrated its status as the Finno-Uralic Culture Capital, and shined a light on the traditions of this language- and culture family. At the same time this marked our fifth year as an UNESCO City of Literature. 

Inspired by these special events, we turn our gazes towards our growing Network. Kuhmo City and Kuhmo’s City of Literature Team invite young writers of the UNESCO Cities of Literature Network to share their thoughts on the meaning of mother language. Let’s celebrate cultural and linguistic diversity together!

The winner will receive a prize of 400 €. They will also have the opportunity to perform their text at a public literary event organised by Kuhmo’s City of Literature Team. Writers on the second and third placement will be awarded with books.

The 10 best texts will be gathered into an exhibition, which will be on public display at Kuhmo. 

The Rules:

  1. Timeline: The call is open from the 5th of February to the 29th of March. The winner will be announced on the 23rd of April.
  2. Who can participate? This competition is open to 15–21-year-old writers, who live in a city that is member of the UNESCO Cities of Literature Network. If you are unsure of whether your home city is a member, you can check it here: https://www.citiesoflit.com 
    Don’t hesitate to take part, for this competition is meant for all writers! There are no requirements for the level of experience, educational background, or other qualifications. Whether you are a young author who has already published their first work, or someone who’s starting their first ever creative writing course, this opportunity is meant for you.
  3. Entries: length and content: Write a text of 800-1500 words that answers the following questions:
  • What is my mother language?
  • What does my mother language mean to me?
  • How has my mother language shaped my identity?

    What is the most beautiful word of my mother language – why is that?

    You can choose the style of writing yourself. 

    Once your entry is ready, send it to cityoflit@kuhmo.fi. Use the following heading: your name, hometown, Jutun Juuri – Root of the Chatter Writing Competition. Add in a MS Word or PDF file of your text, and a background information sheet. The latter you can download from our website: https://kirjallisuuskaupunki.fi.


    4. Permitted languages: Write two versions of your text: one in your mother language, and one in English. If English is your mother language, write the first version in your local dialect, and the other in standard English.

    5. Prizes: The winner will receive 400€ and an opportunity to perform one’s text during a public literary event later during the year 2024. This performance will be executed via online connection. 

    Those who rank second and third will be awarded with books. 

    Fro the entries sent to the jury we will 


    6. Restrictions

  • Each writer can send in one text that has not been published before. 
  • Please note that copying other peoples works, as well as using ChatGBT or other AI apps to produce your text, is strictly prohibited. Entries that turn out to be written with these methods will not proceed to evaluation. 

    A text can be very moving even if it’s not grammatically perfect. First and foremost, we are looking for a writer with a strong literary voice, and a touching way of describing their thoughts. Do not hesitate to seize this opportunity!
  • If you are a minor by the legislation of your home country, please show these instructions to your guardian, and ask that they sign the background information from with you. In this case, being a minor refers to those not old enough to form contracts independently.


    7. Copyright: By sending their text to the jury, participant grants Kuhmo City of Literature their permission to display their work in a public exhibition related to the competition, and to share the text on Kuhmo City of Literature’s communication channels. However, the writers retain full copyright to their work, and possible further uses will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.


    8. Who to contact if I have some questions? If you have some questions about the rules, worry not. Contact Kuhmo’s City of Literature team: cityoflit@kuhmo.fi (Finnish/English). We will be happy to help.