Archive for March, 1997

Street-corner man

Issue 1/1997 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

In the first part of a series on writers and their inspirations, the poet Ilpo Tiihonen writes about his early hero, the poet Arvo Turtiainen

My first concrete encounter with the poet Arvo Turtiainen, the kind of encounter where the poem comes alive and declares itself to be electricity, sound, flesh, part of the atmosphere, took place at Christmas 1967. The poet’s work Hyvää joulua (‘Merry Christmas’) had just been published. My parents received it as a present from my big sister’s boyfriend, then a strict radical. There is a slight sense of apology about the greeting the giver scrawled in the book: ‘This is not a Christmas Present, not a protest, but an opinion.’ For my parents, low-ranking civil servants who had been through the war and embraced middle-class values, Turtiainen did not really exist, preferably not, at least. With a sotto voce cough the book, unread naturally, was slipped on the dark side of the bookshelf, whence I was welcome to take it as far as possible from the living-room.


I was born here

Issue 1/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems, introduction by Ilpo Tiihonen


You work eight hours a day,
sleep thirteen.
Three hours are gone in eating
and telling dirty stories by your bed.

When they say, ‘If only you’d
read something, mate –
you’re dribbling your life away,’
back you come with:
‘Living like this 1 make everything mine.’

Bloggs, Bloggs,
should the world be changed for you?

                            From Tie pilven alta ('The way out of the cloud', 1939)  More...

The monster reveal’d

Issue 1/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Frankensteinin muistikirja (‘Frankenstein’s notebook’, Kirjayhtymä, 1996). Ern(e)st Hemingway and Gertrud(e) Stein – the narrator in these extracts – meet the famous creature in Paris. According to Juha K. Tapio in this, his first novel, Mary Shelley’s monster has been leading an interesting life during the past few centuries

My first impression was that there wasn’t anything particularly monstrous about him. I have already said that his age was hard to determine, but there was something about him that tempted one to apply the word ‘elderly’ to him. He was up in years, no doubt about that, but in a rather special, indefinable way – which made it hard to infer, at least from his outward appearance, what stage he had reached in terms of normal human life. It had to do with something outside of time. He was tall and a little more raw-boned than the average person, and this made one wonder, looking at him, what kind of body his very fashionable clothing concealed his suit and tie conformed to the latest style. This was certainly not the misshapen and monstrous creature I vividly remembered from Mary Shelley’s description.

It was obvious that the past decades had brought about an inevitable evolution. More…


Issue 1/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short sory from Kaunis nimi (‘A lovely name’, Otava, 1996). Raija Siekkinen’s limpid prose is at its best when she explores the complex feelings that lie behind the events of everyday life. Here objects are indicators of emotions, memory and loss, and what is most important is left unsaid

And where was the pen, the fountain pen, black, chubby; the one which pumped the ink straight up from the bottle?

There were three gold-coloured bands on the cap of the pen, and its nib, too, was golden, It had been given to her in a case lined with black velvet, and there was a groove for the pen, and a depression for the ink-bottle; and the bottle was narrow -necked, with curving sides, and the ink in it was not bright blue, but dark, so that words written in it looked old, written a long time ago; one forgot that one had written them oneself, one read them like the words of a stranger.

She remembered the pen, and began slowly to wake up. More…

Unique moments

Issue 1/1997 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

‘There is no everyday reality. There is not a moment that is not unique, manyfaceted, full of what has happened, of expectations and apprehensions, of hidden connections with the surrounding world, not a moment that is not hard to penetrate and worthy of attention,’ wrote Solveig von Schoultz (1907–1996) in her short autobiographical book Längs vattenbrynet (‘Along the water’s edge’, 1992). More…

An infinite number of days

Issue 1/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Molnsommar (‘Cloud summer’, Schildts, 1996). Introduction by Tuva Korsström

Old man

He almost merely slept
and while he slept
his life was accomplished.
Pieces slid out
were examined and fitted together
and while he slept
he was made ready. More…

Andersson now

Issue 1/1997 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

I have been translating Claes Andersson’s poetry for more than 15 years. In September 1997 Sun & Moon Press brought out What Became Words, my chronological selection of his work, which includes poems from of the 15 books he published from 1962 to 1993. A month or so later, I received En lycklig mänska (‘A happy person’), one of Finland’s nominees for Shoveled snow, played with the children, the Nordic Council Prize. I want to go back to where I started; for it seems that many of my long literary relationships have begun in arbitrary (or fortuitous) ways. More…

I am a happy person

Issue 1/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from En lycklig mänska (‘A happy person’, Söderströms, 1996). Introduction by Rika Lesser

Why shouldn't Johann Sebastian Bach be good enough
      even in this my 59th summer.
I contemplate the apple tree in the middle of the field. 
The continuo branches out just above the earth into four
      trunks, which, in turn, divide
into arms more slender, where the fruits ripen.
The foliage patterns the sky, hands plait the voices
      into a basket.
Under the earth, where the roots rehearse, I wait for
      the succulent, faintly sour fruit.

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