Slow, beautiful snow

Issue 2/1998 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Among the poetry published in Finland in 1997, Jyrki Kiiskinen identifies four voices that continue to reverberate long after their books are put down. Sirkka Turkka is one of the four poets he discusses

Sirkka Turkka welds demotic expressions, Biblical overtones, and Finnish pop songs together like a Jesus hanging out with publicans and prostitutes. She does this quite seamlessly, creating a lively verbal landscape: ‘Poetry / is completely senseless, like a mind / open all the time, babbling.’ But as it moves along in its self-identification with a farrago of phrases and sayings, the babble turns dense and multidimensional. The reader of Nousevan auringon talo (‘The house of the rising sun’) is invited to watch the construction and continuous renewal of an identity.

The house of the rising sun is a drafty place, even though its windows are closed. The landscape is somber. Boundaries between the interior and exterior dissolve, heat flows outside and apple trees move indoors quite interactively. The tone shifts from everyday drabness to visionary melancholia, and now and again, the reader’s finger gets pricked by a well-aimed humorous thorn. Turkka’s people are lame, only ‘good at dragging each other / back and forth, like specials on ground beef.’

But it is also a house populated by more animals than people: dogs, horses, and a hamster the poet eulogizes as a comrade in fate. Death can be conquered for moments, riding hard on a horse with ‘a jumping lip.’ The beyond cannot be seen: The planets are in opposition and the earth and I / have only one moon, which always turns the same side to us.’ Mercy walks with a steady stride, bowed, but alive.

Translated by Anselm Hollo

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