In these pictures by Ulla Jokisalo and texts by Anna Kortelainen, truths and mysteries concerning play are entwined with pictures painted with threads and needles. Jokisalo’s exhibition, ‘Leikin varjo / Guises of play’, runs at the Museum of Photography, Helsinki, from 17 August to 25 September.
Words and images from the book Leikin varjo / Guises of play (Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova and Musta Taide, 2011)
Why just three per cent? Translator Owen Witesman seeks an explanation for the difficulties of selling foreign fiction to the self-sufficient Anglo-American market. Could there be anything wrong with the translations?
I am a professional translator, and I have a secret: I don’t read translations.
I’m not alone. The literary website Three Percent draws its name from the fact that only about 3 per cent of books published in the United States are translations (the figure for Germany is something like 50 per cent). There are various opinions about why this is, including this one from Three Percent’s Chad Post writing at Publishing Perspectives.
Why do I say it’s a secret that I don’t read translations? Because people expect me to read translations, as if as a translator it were my sacred duty to show solidarity with my professional community. Or maybe I can’t be cosmopolitan otherwise. More…
A chapter from Vapaasti versoo. Rönsyjä puutarhasta (‘Freely sprouting. Runners from the garden’, Kirjapaja, 2010)
If you sit in your garden and feel a bit like you’re tucked uncomfortably at the end of the dock in a guest berth, the reason is this: the garden hasn’t yet found a place in your muscle memory. Because it is only at the point when the garden has settled into your muscle memory, into your senses in as many ways as possible, that it will feel like your own. And that, of course, takes working in the garden, not just sitting in it.
So you should know your rose – not just its lovely smell but also the memory that you get from the shovel handle of when you planted it, or even the memory of the prick of its thorn on your finger. You can anchor every little detail in your senses, and it doesn’t even take much imagination. The scent of thyme on your fingertips, the downy fluff of a pasque flower against your palm, the silken glow of a peony opening in the morning sunlight – or the sumptuous mist of the wee hours of a summer morning twining over everything, and the rare experience of wading through it. More…
Short prose from Muita hyviä ominaisuuksia (‘Other good characteristics’, Otava, 2010)
On the first day we played getting-to-know-you games. On the second day we played real Finnish baseball out behind the university. On the third day we travelled to the countryside. Classes started sometime at the end of the second week. We watched the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The professor slurped Coke, chain smoked, and rewound the video back and forth: Nurse Ratched’s plump face filled the screen and then in the next image where her face had been there was a basketball Jack Nicholson was squeezing.
It was the autumn of 1992, and I was studying film and communications theory in Copenhagen.
The excursion to the country frightened me, a shy bacteriophobic neurotic. The Danes thought the camping centre’s shared mattresses and group cooking were hygge – cozy. There is no way a dictionary translation could ever cover all the forms of cosiness the Danes achieve together. I fled the camping centre on the first morning. On the train to Copenhagen I recognised all the usual post-escape feelings: shame, fear, guilt, loneliness and overwhelming euphoria. More…
Jyrki Kiiskinen sets out on a journey through seven collections of poetry that appeared in 2009. Exploring history, verbal imagery and the limits of language, these poems speak – ironically or in earnest – about landscapes, love and metamorphoses
The landscape of words is in constant motion, like a runner speeding through a sweep of countryside or an eye scaling the hills of Andalucia.
The proportions of the panorama start to shift so that sharp-edged leaves suddenly form small lakeside scenes; a harbour dissolves into a sheet of white paper or another era entirely. Holes and different layers of events begin to appear in the poems. Within each image, another image is already taking shape; sensory experiences develop into concepts, and the text progresses in a series of metamorphoses. More…
Extracts from Kuoleman ja unohtamisen aikakirjat (‘Chronicles of death and oblivion’, WSOY, 2009)
What’s the meaning of life? There are those who seek it in religion, while for others that is the last place to look. The scientist Kari Enqvist ponders why some people, including himself, seem physiologically immune to the lure of faith. Perhaps, he suggests, we should look for significance not in the big picture, but in the marvel of the fleeting moment
As a young boy I must have held religious beliefs. However, I cannot pinpoint exactly when they disappeared. At some point I eventually stopped saying my evening prayers, but I am unable to remember why or when this happened. ‘I was born in a time when the majority of young people had lost faith in God, for the same reason their elders had had it – without knowing why,’ writes the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa in The Book of Disquiet. More…
Extracts from a collection of writings, Ulkona (‘Outside’, Siltala, 2008)
Literature – and ‘serious’ writing in particular, the kinds of texts we publish in Books from Finland – is often seen as lost, irrelevant, pushed out to the edge of mainstream popular culture. But, argues Hannu Raittila, the margin is actually the area of greatest freedom. Everything worthwhile happens there – and business would do well to imitate art, rather than the other way round
It is easy to see culture as a marginal part of society, if viewed from an economic perspective. It is easy to see literature, for its part, as a marginal phenomenon even when compared with other areas of culture – pop music, for example. More…
In this specially commissioned article, the first for the new Books from Finland website, Leena Krohn contemplates the internet and the invisible limits of literature.
The world wide web, whose services most of us now use for work or entertainment, is a greater invention than we have, perhaps, realised up till now: according to the writer Leena Krohn, it is nothing less than an evolutionary leap
Technology combats the limitations of our senses, geography, and time. The human eye can’t compete with the visual acuity of an eagle, or even a cat, but with the best telescopes it can see into the early history of the universe, with new electron microscopes it can distinguish individual atoms.
The human senses nevertheless have an unbelievably broad bandwidth. About a million times more data flows to our brains by means of our senses than we could ever grasp consciously. More…
If you want to write, you need to do it every day, says the author Monika Fagerholm. Trial and error are necessary for her – and so is not being afraid of getting lost in the woods in the process, because only then can amazing things be found
Writers write and writers write every day. I remember seeing this in one of those inspirational guides on writing I enjoy reading – even if they don’t necessarily help you in pursuing your daily writing as much as you would hope. At the worst, they give you a kind of exhausting energy which just leaves you drained. And yes, turning to these kinds of manuals almost always involves an element of desperation; you don’t need advice when everything is going great. More…
In Finnish fiction of the present decade, both in poetry and in prose, there seems to be at least one principle that cuts across all genres: an overt expression of gender, writes the critic Mervi Kantokorpi in her essay
Relationships and family have always been central concerns of literature; questions about gender and individual identity have received a new emphasis in Finnish literature from one season to the next. The gender roles represented in contemporary literature appear to become ever more stereotypical. The question is no longer only of the author consciously setting his or her gender up as the starting point for expression, as has already long been the case with modern literature written by women. More…