Archive for March, 2004
Extracts from the autobiographical novel Nurinkurin (‘Upside down, inside out’, WSOY, 2003). Interview by Anna-Leena Nissilä
The soldier rides on a scarf
waving a donkey
‘Now it’s your turn to go on,’ says my brother on the back seat, turning his head toward the window so that he can concentrate on his poetic muse.
Father looks in the mirror, wrinkling his face in pain. ‘The object, in other words, is of no significance to you. What happened to your case endings and your grammar?’
From the back seat we shout eagerly: ‘The poet has special privileges which are not accorded to others.’
Father shakes his head: ‘You can be creative, but silly content and broken language do not make poetry.’
‘Oh yes they do. Don’t disturb our creative spirit. When you speak, our connection with her is broken. Don’t cut off the source of our inspiration.’ More…
‘Hippopotamus’, a short story from Kävelymusiikkia pienille virtahevoille (‘Passacaglia for small hippopotami’, Tammi, 1958). Introduction by Tuula Hökkä
Someone came gasping up behind me at high speed, stopped, and thrust a bundle under my arm, whispering hoarsely and agitatedly: ‘Keep hold of this, hide it! They’re after me –’ And before I’d woken up to what was going on he’d disappeared round a corner.
I was holding a warm living creature, a hippopotamus. Presumably stolen from some zoo or some private person who loved hippopotami; perhaps the man was a sailor and had brought the animal from abroad.
However it was, the hippo needed a safe place. I decided to take it home; I’d had cats and dogs, hadn’t I? – and once a little marmot. I’d always longed for a giraffe. OK, a hippo was just as good. After all, I could put an ad in the paper later: ‘Found: a hippopotamus. Hippo returned on production of identification marks.’ More…
Poems from Fänrik Ståls sägner (Tales of Ensign Stål, 1848–1860) and Dikter II (‘Poems II’. 1833), translated by Judy Moffett. Introductions by Pertti Lassila and Risto Ahti
Sven Duva’s sire a sergeant was, had served his country long,
Saw action back in ‘88, and then was far from young.
Now poor and gray, he farmed his croft and got his living in,
And had about him children nine, and last of these came Sven.
Now if the old man did, himself have wits enough to share
With such a large and lively swarm – to this I cannot swear;
But plainly no attempt was made to stint the elder ones,
For scarce a crumb remained to give this lastborn of his sons. More…
Poems from Olen tyttö, ihanaa! (‘Wonderful, I’m a girl!’, Tammi, 2003)
I’m hanging from the Antonovka branch
I'm hanging from the Antonovka branch upside down, my hair stretching upwards, I swing, the lawn sky flies past, it's raining tree-trunks,
the fish bring Grandad in from the lake, the cows have herded Grandma from the pasture, the dough kneads the hand on the table-top.
The potatoes have lifted us from the earth, the fields plough me, the grass is creeping into Felix, bones gnaw at Fido, beneath the currant bushes worms peck at the chickens.
The apple has bitten Eve, hunger devours me with each mouthful, and death comes too, breathing the air from my lungs, then passes: I drop down to my palms on to my feet
Extracts from the novel Kahden ja yhden yön tarinoita (‘Tales from two and one nights’, Sammakko, 2003)
Reponen, Tane, Aleksi and Little Juha; once we all climbed up the path to the old dump with bows on our backs, our arrows sticking out from the tops of our boots. It was April. In the field above the dump puddles reflected the opaque sky, where we were going to shoot our arrows.
The field was the highest point in our neighbourhood. We could see the shopping centre, the library and the sawdust running track through the school woods. We could see the high-rise flats on Tora-alhontie road and the huts in the allotments. We could make out the thick spruce forest of Sovinnonvuori along the greenish grey coastline at Kapeasalmi. Our homes sat there below us. Softly droning cranes, yellow totem animals of hope, swung back and forth above the unfinished houses. In the distance was the centre of town with all its churches and scars. Here everything was just beginning. The swaggering confidence of ten-year-old boys was straining within us and would carry us far like Geronimo’s bow. More…