Archive for December, 1984


Issue 4/1984 | 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…

Bearded Madonna

Issue 4/1984 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Parrakas madonna (‘Bearded Madonna’, 1983). Introduction by Pertti Lassila

The first volume of poems by Eira Stenberg (born 1943) appeared in 1966; since then she has published both poems and children’s stories. In her most recent collection, she examines human relationships within the family, divorce, motherhood and childhood. Stenberg’s voice is clear and concrete. Her treatment of both mother and child is unsentimental, sometimes ironic; perceptively and far­sightedly she deals with the importance of childhood in the way it predestines the fate of the individual. No love or hate burns/ like that we receive as a gift from childhood, Stenberg writes in one of her poems. The home – protective, restrictive and punishing – is often the scene of her poems. The man, the father, is the butt of considerable irony and criticism, but Stenberg also destroys the myth of the madonna-like mother and the idyll of the home. More…

An intimation of Paradise

Issue 4/1984 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Paratiisiaavistus (‘An intimation of Paradise’, 1983). Introduction by Pertti Lassila

Satu Salminiitty (born 1959) has published only one collection of poetry since her first appeared in 1981, but with these two volumes she has achieved considerable success. She writes with a fine rhetoric using language and rhythm that are far removed from those of spoken Finnish. Religious pathos has a prominent place in her work, and her poems often derive from praise, prayer or even magic incantations; Salminiitty is a creator of vision who trusts to her metaphysical intuition, a quality not generally discernible among today’s Finnish poets. Equally rare is her lively faith in the goodness and beauty of people and of the world. A conscious rejoinder to materialism, pessimism and fear of the future can be read in her poems. More…

Narcissus in winter

Issue 4/1984 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Risto Ahti

Risto Ahti. Kuva: Harri Hinkka

Poems from Narkissos talvella (Narcissus in winter’, 1982). Introduction by Pertti Lassila

Risto Ahti (born 1943) published his first work in 1975. His poetic expression finds form remarkably often in prose poems, and Narkissos talvella is made up exclusively of these. His poems transmute language into a mystical, surreal world, sometimes enigmatic and subjective in the extreme, and at its best strangely suggestive. It is as if Ahti’s world were in a state of constant change, subjected to a relentless process of demolition and rebuilding. The experience of the individual, generally his encounter with truth, is central to many of Ahti’s poems; the inner reality of a person manifests itself as more essential than the outward appearance. Ahti’s poems exhibit a fruitful contradiction: on the one hand, the accuracy with which he uses words and, on the other, the continual shape-changing and lack of definite boundaries of the world they describe. More…

Patsy, the artist of the lumber camps

Issue 4/1984 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from Atomintutkija ja muita juttuja (1950). Introduction by Aarne Kinnunen

Deep in the wilds, where the only sound is the sad, primeval sighing of the forest, it is easy to succumb to a mood of boredom and melancholy. It may sometimes occur to you that in such a place you are wasting your life. Real life goes on elsewhere, in places with more people, more signs of human activity, more light, more gaiety…

You fell a tree, severing a string of that mighty instrument, the forest. You saw it into logs, you strip off the bark: it all seems dull and pointless. Sometimes the rain decides to go on for days: the trees have streaming colds, droplets hang from every needle-tip. You make for the shelter of a lumber camp. But the low-roofed rest-hut, deep in the forest, looks a dreary place, the well-known faces are so dull, the talk so futile. You feel you know in advance what each man is going to say. And the food, too, is just the same as usual, the same old rubbishy mush. The sight of the pot, with its blackened sides, gives no pleasure: you know all too well what is in it. And those grubby playing-cards, how disgusting! The mere sight of them is enough to make you feel defiled… More…

The bad and the ugly in the writing of Pentti Haanpää

Issue 4/1984 | Archives online, Authors

Pentti Haanpää

Pentti Haanpää. Photo: SKS Archives

Pentti Haanpää (1905-1955), author of ten novels and three hundred short stories, wrote about lumberjacks, woodsmen, crofters and smallholders; his individual style has established him as one of the most popular short story writers in Finnish literature.

The first full biography of Haanpää, by Vesa Karonen, Haanpään elämä (‘Haanpää’s life’), is to be published in January 1985 by Finnish Literature Society.

Haanpää’s strength as a writer is in his short stories. He is a man’s writer who writes about a man’s world: logging and other heavy manual work, hiking, war hunting, fishing, sport. His language, too: is masculine: rugged, sometimes rough, dense, laconic. Haanpää’s scale of emotions is wide and varied, but there is a bass note that is often sounded in his work. It is one of the characteristics that gives Haanpää’s work its particular stamp: his preoccupation with the bad and the ugly. More…

The blow-flower boy and the heaven-fixer

Issue 4/1984 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from Puhalluskukkapoika ja taivaankorjaaja (‘The blow-flower boy and the heaven-fixer’, 1983). Interview by Olavi Jama


A chill west wind came over the blue ice. It went right to the skin through woollen clothes. Shivers ran up and down the spine, made shoulders shake.

In the bank of clouds close to the horizon, right where the icebreaker had crunched open a passage to the shore, hung a pale blotch, a substitute for the sun. It gave off more chill than warmth.

Lennu’s teeth were chattering.

He wore a buttoned-up windbreaker, a hand-me-down from Gunnar, over a heavy lambswool shirt. It couldn’t keep off the cold. More…

Joni Skiftesvik: arctic storyteller

Issue 4/1984 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews

Joni Skiftesvik

Joni Skiftesvik. Photo: Hilkka Skiftesvik

Olavi Jama interviews Joni Skiftesvik

We’re sitting on the fringes of the arctic zone, in the modern centre of Oulu, a town that built its wealth in the last century on tar export and sailing ships.

In front of us is the sea; behind us curves Oulujoki, the river that has for centuries brought Oulu writers stories from the north. The restaurant is filled with the bright light of midday; we want to see each other clearly.

JS: All summer the wind blows in from the sea. Now there’s a land wind. It comes from the east.

OJ: You’ve published only two books, but you’re hardly a typical debutant writer. All day you work for an Oulu publisher of romantic fiction, whose products attract hundreds of thousands of readers every year. What’s your job there?

JS: Publications director.

OJ: You returned from the Frankfurt Book Fair yesterday. Did you see anything there to interest you as an author?

JS: For a novelist or a short story writer, for a writer concerned with literature it was really quite a depressing sight. Long corridors and exhibition shelves by the kilometre. More…