Search results for "ilpo tiihonen"

Gatecrashing the universe: the poems of Ilpo Tiihonen

4 December 2009 | Authors, Reviews

Ilpo Tiihonen – Photo: Irmeli Jung

Ilpo Tiihonen – Photo: Irmeli Jung

Ilpo Tiihonen defies definition: he is, at one and the same time, a cosmopolitan poet who draws his influences from Latin America and the early Soviet avant garde, and a local poet for the whole of Finland, a fabulist who plays with language and a rough-hewn romantic of everyday life.

In Tiihonen’s selected poems, Lyhyt oodi kaikelle (‘A short ode to everything’, 2000), readers are invited to admire the prospekts of Moscow and Paris’s Montparnasse.

Most fondly pictured, however, are spring work-days wherever Tiihonen (born 1950) is living – in recent years, the working-class Helsinki suburb of Kallio, which has on the one hand scrubbed up to become a favourite of students and the more bohemian middle-class and on the other gained notoriety for its bread-lines, prostitutes and street winos. More…

Eroica

31 December 1984 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Ilpo Tiihonen. Photo: Irmeli Jung

Ilpo Tiihonen. Photo: Irmeli Jung

Poems from From Eroikka (‘Eroica’, 1982). Introduction by Pertti Lassila

Ilpo Tiihonen (born 1950) published his first collection of poetry in 1975. From the beginning, his poems have been couched in the language of the street, and he uses slang liberally. Tiihonen has always been opposed to the miniature idylls of nature that were so characteristic of the 1970s. He aims at the secularisation of poetry, and he uses humour and comedy as a counterweight to high culture. He has evidently been influenced in his technique by Mayakovsky and Yesenin, to whom he often refers in his poems. His preferences in the poetic tradition are apparent in the fresh and liberal new interpretations of poems by Gustav Fröding contained in his collection Eroikka. Unusually for a contemporary Finnish poet, Tiihonen makes extensive use of rhyme. The result is often strongly lyrical poems that could almost be called modern broadsheet ballads, and may also bring Brecht to mind. More…

The next nine lives

30 September 1998 | Authors

Ilpo Tiihonen

Ilpo Tiihonen. Photo: WSOY/ C.G.Hagström

‘I was blamed by another translator for working with the early Ilpo Tiihonen,’ writes Tiihonen’s translator, Herbert Lomas; ‘He was supposedly superficial.’

It’s a mistake to confuse lightness of touch or facility with superficiality. Shakespeare himself, who wrote three plays a year and ‘never blotted a line’, must have had facility. And lightness of touch is a sign of intelligence and artistic security. Ilpo Tiihonen (born 1950) carries his intelligence and his reading of the Swedish and Russian classics (Fröding, Mayakovsky, Yesenin) without self-importance, which may not always pass for a paradoxical humility. More…

The height of the night

15 October 2009 | Letter from the Editors

pallokarttaThe autumnal equinox is past; and as we tilt towards the winter solstice, here in these northerly latitudes, the darkness expands palpably from day to day, giving more space for introspection – high on the list of Finnish national pastimes – and for reading.

We want to make our website primarily a place for reading – not, in other words, for clicking, going on to the next thing. To think to the end what cannot be thought to the end elsewhere, as the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam said of his experience of staying in what was, at the turn of the 20th century, still Finnish Karelia. So you will not find our texts littered with links; for the most part, links appear at the end of a piece, not in it. More…

Horror on the first line

15 October 2010 | Authors, Essays, Non-fiction, On writing and not writing

In this series, Finnish authors ponder their profession. In his radical youth, the poet and author Ilpo Tiihonen thought blind rage was what fuelled poetry. As he later found it’s a lot more complicated, he began to invent ways of loosening literary tension

When I was a little more than 20, when I thought I had completed the manuscript of my first volume of poems, everything was going to hell.

I wanted life to be political, exotic, inspired, but the Finnish way of life, with its instructions and its home loans crushed people into a stiff and monopositional way of being. One of submission. I protested. We made an underground magazine whose cover showed Nixon peeing on South America. We founded a propaganda theatre which raged against the colonels’ junta in Greece. And there was plenty to vilify about the Finnish bourgeoisie, too. I hated capitalism, TV advertisements and the high prices of bus tickets. And there was no hot water in my rented digs. The main thing was to protest. More…

A Note on Nine Contemporary Poems from Finland

31 March 1987 | Archives online, Articles, Fiction, Non-fiction, poetry

Contemporary Finnish poetry, translated and introduced by Anselm Hollo

The last couple of months, it has been my pleasure to browse around in a tightly ­packed shelf of books of poetry published in Finland in the last five years. On the showing of these, and of the excellent anthology Modern finlandssvensk lyrik (‘Modern Finland-Swedish poetry’, 1980), edited by Claes Andersson and Bo Carpelan, poetry certainly seems to be alive and well in the old homeland. In a way, the sheaf translated here is just first travel notes, individual works that struck my fancy seemed translatable: thus, by no means a ‘representative selection’.

Claes Andersson’s poem ‘When I was born, Helsinki was…’ was quite simply a direct hit (perhaps an unfortunate metaphor in that it deals, in part, with the WW2 air raids on Helsinki) – it brought back personal memories from my early childhood. But beyond those immediate circumstances, it is also a very moving evocation of the magnificent and terrifying world of magic children inhabit. Helena Anhava’s ‘These years…’, with its marvelous image of the great hinge turning in the human psyche at certain points familiar to anyone who has lived into middle age, seemed a fine example of her impressive body of meditative lyric poems, sharing a tenor of wistfulness not uncommon in Finland’s poetry with Bo Carpelan’s ‘You drive up…’, which is also a poem of the pangs of change. In Carpelan’s text, the clash between ‘wonderful clear Vivaldi’ on the protagonist’s car radio and the perceived tawdriness of the environment is beautifully balanced between genuine revulsion for the latter and a self-irony directed against the self-declared ‘finer sensibilities’ of the class that can afford them. Tua Forsström‘s ‘Do you want to hear something’ moves in a lovely dance figure from myth to everyday present: we see the interior world that is Nausicaa’s island shimmering through the exterior in which ‘someone’s/ balcony door whines all night like a cat’. More…

Street-corner man

31 March 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.

More…

On the waves of our skin

4 December 2009 | Fiction, poetry

The poems in Ilpo Tiihonen’s new collection, Jumalan sumu (‘God’s mist’) – about fakirs, beggars, poets, lovers and life – are tinged with a gentle sense of the ephemerality of human life (see Gatecrashing the universe)

Poems from Jumalan sumu (‘God’s mist’, WSOY, 2009)

SANTO PAN

These mornings when beggars
station themselves at church doors
and a little grace slips through
the fingers of some of us,
it seems for a moment good

That crows are flying about
and princes’ bones are clattering in huge sarcophagi

And now, with a basic shape planned
for the daily bread,

Early morning wakes up in Florence
with black flour in its fingernails More…

Seekers and givers of meaning: what the writer said

2 October 2014 | This 'n' that

kirjaimet‘All our tales, stories, and creative endeavours are stories about ourselves. We repeat the same tale throughout our lives, from the cradle to the grave.’ CA

‘Throughout a work’s journey, the writer filters meanings from the fog of symbols and connects things to one another in new ways. Thus, the writer is both a seeker of meaning and a giver of meaning.’ OJ

‘Words are behind locks and the key is lost. No one can seek out another uncritically except in poetry and love. When this happens the doors have opened by themselves.’ EK

‘I realised that I had to have the courage to write my kind of books, not books excessively quoting postmodern French philosophers, even if that meant laying myself open to accusations of nostalgia and sentimentality.’ KW

‘If we look at the writing process as consisting of three C:s – Craft, Creativity and Chaos – each one of them is in its way indispensable, but I would definitely go for chaos, for in chaos lies vision.’ MF

‘In the historical novel the line between the real and the imagined wavers like torchlight on a wall. The merging of fantasy and reality is one of the essential features of the historical novel.’ KU

‘The writer’s block isn’t emptiness. It’s more like a din inside your head, the screams of shame and fear and self-hatred echoing against one another. What right have I to have written anything in the first place? I have nothing to say!’ PT

‘…sometimes stanzas have to / assume the torch-bearer’s role – one / often avoided like the plague. / Resilient and infrangible, the lines have to / get on with their work, like a termite queen / laying an egg every three seconds / for twenty years, / leaving a human to notice / their integrity. ’ JI

In 2007 when  Books from Finland was a printed journal, we began a series entitled On writing and not writing; in it, Finnish authors ponder the complexities, pros and cons of their profession. Now our digitised archives make these writings available to our online readers: how do Claes Andersson, Olli Jalonen, Eeva Kilpi, Kjell Westö, Monika Fagerholm, Kaari Utrio, Petri Tamminen and Jouni Inkala describe the process? Pain must coexist with pleasure…

 From 2009 – when Books from Finland became an online journal – more writers have made their contributions: Alexandra Salmela, Susanne Ringell, Jyrki Kiiskinen, Johanna Sinisalo, Markku Pääskynen, Ilpo Tiihonen, Kristina Carlson, Tuomas Kyrö, Sirpa Kähkönen – the next, shortly, will be Jari Järvelä.

Speaking about the heart

30 June 1991 | Archives online, Articles

New Finnish poetry, translated and introduced by Herbert Lomas

The ‘modernist’ revolution in Finnish poetry is now 40 years old, and the art must be ripe for changes.

Of course, the modernism of post-war Finnish poetry was not – except in Haavikko and to some extent in Saarikoski – extremely modernist. The poets were more interested in their content than their experiments. They were perhaps closer to ancient Chinese poets and early Pound than to Eliot in their elided brief juxtapositions and meditations on nature, society and moment-to-moment transience. The poets picked up a few liberties that unshackled them from metrical and rhyming formalities uncongenial to Finnish stress, syntax and phonemics; and they took off to speak about the heart. That is the strength of this poetry, and its originality, since all originality consists in being oneself – which includes one’s national self, and ultimately other people’s selves. And every generation still has to make a new start, admittedly in new circumstances, with the experience of its forefathers from birth to death. More…

Oh heiferiness and humanness

30 September 2007 | Fiction, poetry

Kesäillan kevyt käsitteellisyys.
III laulu: Suvisimfonia, omistettu Joel Lehtoselle.
‘A summer evening’s slight conceptualness’.
III song: Summer symfony, dedicated to the author
Joel Lehtonen (1881–1934)
From
Eros (WSOY, 2002)

A summer evening’s slight conceptualness

Ah summer evening, and its eveningness,
its prodigious wonders and their bridgefulness
when the nightunited seamlessness
steals into one’s heart with restfulness

O heiferiness and humanness,
ah shivering shimmeringness,
innocents’ innocuousness
and vastness with its stresslessness –
five or six chicks of a dabchick,
and deep water, lapfulness.

Our blue sky’s mirrored changefulness!
the spruces’ tall topliness, their tips’ sacredness
the yellow-billed black singer’s flutiness.
Nested cosiness, mutual tootiness! More…

Midwinter in a minor key

23 December 2009 | Letter from the Editors

Finland’s end-of-year celebrations, both Christmas and New Year, take place in a thoroughly muted mode. At noon on Christmas Eve the Christmas Peace is rung out from the mediaeval cathedral in Turku, with the pious and seldom realised hope that peace and harmony will be unbroken for the following twelve days.

It’s true, though, that there’s little of the carousing that characterises Christmas celebrations further south; by and large, people stay behind closed doors, and there’s plenty of time, in the dark mornings and evenings and the brief twilight between them, to eat and drink and sleep – and, for those whose souls are not entirely claimed by the television and food-induced torpor, to read. More…

Worlds apart

18 June 2009 | Extracts, Non-fiction

Left: xxx; right: xxx

Helsinki boys by the sea: in Martti Jämsä’s Polaroid lads play on the beach; in I.K. Inha’s photograph (Hietalahden satama, ‘Hietalahti harbour’), taken a century earlier, barefoot urchins meet up on the quayside

A hundred years ago the photographer I.K. Inha (1865–1930) was asked to illustrate a tourist guide to Helsinki. He took some 200 photographs, of which some 60 were included in the book, which was published by WSOY in 1910. In his new book of photographs, OPS! Helsinki Polaroid¹, Martti Jämsä (born 1959), wanders the same streets a century on, taking snapshots with his Polaroid camera. More…

Poetic excercises by the sea: Herbert Lomas (re)visited

21 November 2009 | Authors, Interviews

Down by the sea: Herbert Lomas in Aldeburgh. - Photo: Soila Lehtonen

Poet ahoy: Herbert Lomas in Aldeburgh. Photo: Soila Lehtonen

The prize-winning British poet Herbert Lomas has been translating Finnish poetry – much of it for Books from Finland – for more than thirty years. Soila Lehtonen, our Editor-in-Chief and his long-time collaborator, interviews him on the occasion of the publication of his collected poems, A Casual Knack of Living

The shoreline and the seaside promenade stretch out along the windy East Suffolk coast in Aldeburgh, where Herbert Lomas lives in a pink house called North Gable.

In summer thousands of tourists frequent the picturesque village, particularly during the music festival in June, founded in 1948 by the local composer Benjamin Britten. A poetry festival, too, takes place every autumn, this year for the 21st time.

Herbert – Bertie to those, like us at Books from Finland, who know him well – has just published a handsome tome of poetry, A Casual Knack of Living, containing poems from nine earlier collections plus a selection of previously unpublished poems, entitled Nightlights. The home of his publisher, Arc Publications, is in the village where he was born, 85 years ago, Todmorden in the Pennines. More…

Thirsty for poetry

22 May 2014 | This 'n' that

Johanna Venho (above) and Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen

Johanna Venho (above) and Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen. Photo:

Jano (‘Thirst’) is the name for a new online magazine: according to the writers and poets Johanna Venho and Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen, its editors, it is a ‘poetry journal for all’ – for poets, the general public, for anybody.

Two issues have been published since November 2013. The theme of the first one is Time, of the second, Place.There are interviews, autobiographical texts, texts by critics and poets. More…