Archive for September, 1976

Mishaps, perhaps

Issue 3/1976 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Jarkko Laine

Jarkko Laine. Photo: Kai Nordberg

Jarkko Laine (born 1947) writes both prose and verse. He is the author of several hilarious and highly imaginative novels and a pioneer of the generation of Finnish underground poets. One of the most productive of younger Finland’s poets, he draws on the language and forms of mass commercial entertainment, comics, and pop music to write about people of today.

He is currently the editorial secretary of the literary periodical Parnasso. The poem below is from his latest collection Viidenpennin Hamlet (‘Fivepenny Hamlet’, Otava 1976)



In Turku again
the taxi’s travelling East Street
whose wooden sides have gone,

the radio’s laryngeal with static, VHF, the driver’s
telling me the tale,
the ice hockey season’s on us already,
even though there’s rain, green in the park,

I’m staring at the lifted houses
stuffed with sleeping persons,
the landmarks are going out one by one, all of them,
you might as well be
in the middle of the sea in a rubber dinghy,
soon I shan’t recognize anything here but
the cathedral, the castle,
my own name in the telephone directory. More…


Issue 3/1976 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Pentti Saaritsa

Pentti Saaritsa playing chess. Photo by Otso Kantokorpi, 2006.

Pentti Saaritsa (born 1941), author of six collections of poetry, is one of Finland’s leading left-wing poets, who writes about a wide range of individual and social themes. An outstanding translator, he has had a major role in making Latin American literature, especially the work of Miguel Angel Asturias and Pablo Neruda, known and admired in Finland. He also translates from Russian. The first five poems below have been taken from his latest collection Tritonus (‘Tritone’, Kirjayhtymä 1976), and the last two from his Syksyn runot (‘Autumn poems’, Kirjayhtymä 1973). His poems have appeared in various anthologies abroad and are now being translated into Swedish, English and French. Pentti Saaritsa is a member of the editiorial board of Books from Finland.



From the bowels of each apartment house
always that one unknown sound is borne.

Sometimes like drily dripping water, sometimes
as a stone might bite a lump out of itself,
Or a child awake in the dark might learn the word hair.

And a tenant listens, makes a note of it
perhaps to punctuate the interrupted writing of his consciousness
when it makes him restless:

What now, again so soon, is it coming from me
or from the dead building.
An alarm-bell. Did anyone else hear? More…

Front-Line Tourists

Issue 3/1976 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An extract from the novel Nahka­peitturien linjalla (‘On the tanners’ line’, 1976)

Paavo Rintala (born 1930) published his first novel in 1954 and since then has brought out a new book almost every year. A merciless critic of the myths surrounding certain national figures and events, he has written about Marshal Mannerheim, against attempts to glorify war, and the ‘inevitability’ of Finland’s involvment in the German Barbarossa plan. He has made considerable use of reportage technique to produce anti-war documentaries and in more recent years worked with international subjects.

His books have been widely translated and are popular in East and West Europe. Paavo Rintala’s novel Sissiluutnantti (‘Commando Lieuenant’, Otava 1963) and its reception were the subject of a book by the ltterary critic Pekka Tarkka (Paavo Rintalan saarna ja seurakunta. ‘Paavo Rintala’s sermon and congregation’, Otava 1966). Paavo Rintala is chairman of the Finnish Peace Committee. The passage below is taken from Nahkapeitturien linjalla (‘On the tanners’ line’, Otava 1976) in which he again turns his attention to the war years. Rintala looks at the events of the years leading up to the war and the course of the war itself through the eyes of many different people – from the leading politicians of the day to the ordinary soldier.

The novel has already been acclaimed as the monument to the ‘unknown soldier’ of the Winter War.


Hessu duly presented himself at the Viipuri office of the Army Information Department (Visitors’ Escort Section), where it was implied that the expected visitors were Very Important People and that a singular privilege was being conferred upon Hessu and such front-line troops that the party might visit. Although His Excellency Field-Marshal Mannerheim made it a rule never to allow front-line visits by ordinary journalists or even by special correspondents, these gentlemen were, it seemed, such influential people that H.E. had agreed to their visit without demur. “You understand, Padre, what a great responsibility this will be for you? These are very high-up people.” More…