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For thousands of years, an epic poem called the Kalevala was passed from generation to generation in the Finnish north. The keepers of the poem were known as rune-singers, performers who predated written language and later inspired the Elvish language found in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. But centuries of war have left this tradition hanging by a thread. In 2014, I visited Jussi Huovinen, the last surviving rune-singer with the poem committed to memory and the strings of customary instruments. 


The Rune-Singer


Austin Hagwood
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