Archive for June, 1987

Three short stories

Issue 2/1987 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

from Väärinkäsityksiä (‘Misconceptions’). Interview by Markku Huotari


Kaija couldn’t understand why she felt like laughing all the time.

‘As for me, what I stand for is good old-fashioned courtesy,’ he pointed out.

He’d got a soft, low, caressing voice. He rested his hand on Kaija’s shoulder. They’d got that far already. Kaija had decided to say yes, even though he hadn’t suggested anything yet. She was beginning to picture luxurious rooms, gourmet dishes, expensive drinks, and tender, passionate love­making.

‘Socially I’m a radical,’ he said. ‘Culturally a liberal, but in personal things an unshakeable conservative. A woman, in my view, is to be respected – I don’t consider that damaging to her independence. Too often, in today’s world, equality’s used to justify what are quite simply bad manners.’ More…

Beyond good and evil?

Issue 2/1987 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews

Esa Sariola. Kuva Irmeli Jung

Esa Sariola. Kuva Irmeli Jung

Markku Huotari interviews Esa Sariola

A stylish restaurant in the Stock Exchange building in Helsinki. Esa Sariola and I order a businessmen’s lunch. We talk about hard-nosed success stories. About technocracy, casino economics.

About profit.

A steely-eyed businessman enters the room from the stock exchange and sees us two soft-talkers, even if we look like men, wasting time. The ruthless gambler bolts down his lunch and disappears to the upper floor again, where he is making money.

We remain.

We’re just talking.

And there’s no money accruing in our wallets.

All the same we have a grip on that investor. Esa Sariola has already laid siege to people like him in three books: Väärinkäsityksiä (‘Misconceptions’, 1983), a collection of short stories, and two novels: Rakas ystävä (‘Dear friend’, 1985) and Kuolemaani saakka (‘Until my dying day’, 1986). More…

A small lie

Issue 2/1987 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from Pieni valhe (‘A small lie’). Introduction by Marianne Bargum

The white cat had started to hate her.

Only half a year ago, Marja remembered, it had been playing with the hems of her robe, while she had passed the morning reading and drinking coffee. Right now it was staring relentlessly at her from the bookcase where it was ensconced: out of reach, she thought. Its stare was green and mean. At night it attacked her ankles; it lurked in the crevices of the apartment and when it heard her approaching steps it leapt past her, screaming, and crossed the room to the curtains or the table. The curtains fell, books crashed to the floor, the cat stared with its eyes opened wide, the pupils like narrow slits. She would lock the cat into the other room for the night, hear it mew and feel the door with its paws; she fell asleep only after the cat had calmed down. When she approached it during the day, stroked it and called its name, it looked at her, motionless, as if it had seen and known everything, and then she withdrew her hand, backed off, started behaving as if there wasn’t even a cat in the apartment. More…


Issue 2/1987 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Raija Siekkinen

Raija Siekkinen. Photo: Irmeli Jung

When the first collection of short stories by Raija Siekkinen (born 1953), entitled Talven tulo (‘The coming of winter’, 1978) appeared, the critics were unanimous on one point: here was a mature writer with an original, individual voice. For her second collection, Tuomitut (‘The condemned’, 1982), Raija Siekkinen received the coveted Kalevi Jäntti Prize. Since then she has remained faithful to the short story. And since the publication of her fourth collection, Pieni valhe (‘A small lie’), the reader has been able to trace a development in which she has polished and tightened her narrative and brought to it more and more poetic and symbolic elements.

The main character in Raija Siekkinen’s short stories is generally a woman, not old but not very young either, often alone, sometimes broken by illness. Death is a recurring theme with Siekkinen; illness withers her women, her men die sometimes by their own hand. Siekkinen writes seldom about children; when she does so, it is from a child’s point of view. This perspective results in a critique of the narrow and restricted world view of adults. But always sensitively, never pointing the finger. More…

Poems, poèmes

Issue 2/1987 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Mies joka rakasti vaimoaan liikaa (‘The man who loved his wife too much’, 1979 and Vaikka on kesä (‘Although it’s summer’, 1983).  Interview by Markku Huotari

Look at this epitaph with whiskers.
Threw herself so gladly into my troubles, sometimes she seemed to be bearing, properly, my burdens.
A dog called Julia. Combining
July and Yuletide.
Often thought of putting her down, so she wouldn’t need to die.
Smash her skull or break her neck
with my own hands, to stop her mourning her premature death.
Which still seems to be delaying.
She puts her four paws gently down, one at a time. So the Lord won’t hear her still about
and whisk her away.
Two years ago, she steps on some glass, her toe sticks out, a tendon’s cut.
She looks at me. Believe it or not,
I’m grieved by little Julia’s lot: for a second
I think the blood’s dripping from my own heart. More…

A poet of the fresh air

Issue 2/1987 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews

Sirkka Turkka

Sirkka Turkka. Photo: Pertti Nisonen

Sirkka Turkka is interviewed by Markku Huotari

Snowflakes are already covering the forest, and an angry wind is blowing off Lake Lohjanjärvi. It is autumn, and in the courtyard, at the roots of a stunted rowan, is a lounge chair, its paint already peeling.

‘I’ve left the chair there because my mother used to sit in it and knit.’

I start at Sirkka Turkka’s comment. In my mind is her last-but-one volume of poetry, Vaikka on kesä (‘Although it’s summer’, 1983); its poems sound a contemporary lament, occasioned by her mother’s death.

‘There’s nothing made-up in my poetry,’ says Sirkka Turkka.

Landscape, nature, the circular path of life – all of these have left their wounds in Sirkka Turkka’s poetry. But as she writes in Tule takaisin, pikku Sheba (‘Come back, little Sheba’, 1986), winner of the Finlandia Prize 1987, ‘from the wounds life grows’. More…


Issue 2/1987 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Vattenhjulet (‘The water-wheel’, 1986). Introduction by Thomas Warburton

Together with time

One day the door to my room closed
and fate said to me: be still.
It was then that I discovered time.
It had lain hidden beneath a lid
of events and hasty decisions.
It was then that I raised the lid.
So strange! There time lay
completely unused, completely itself
smooth and fresh, as if resting.
I looked at time with reverence.
I saw myself new, I sank into
a miraculous eventlessness
together with time
listened to myself living:
a barely perceptible murmur.

The water-wheel

The old horse plods heavily with blinkered eyes 
the wheel turns slowly and inexorably
creating time, a thing that is not visible
that is really nothing
			with the right to kill.


A sense of order

Issue 2/1987 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Solveig von Schoultz

Solveig von Schoultz. Photo: Charlotta Boucht

That Solveig von Schoultz occupies the position of ‘grand old lady’ of Finland­-Swedish poetry is beyond question; yet it is an epithet that fits her badly. It all too easily suggests the image of a stern and queenly poetess, an Edith Sitwell, Marianne Moore or Gabriela Mistral. The poetesses of Scandinavia are, by and large, less solemn – more gentle and down-to-earth, even when they grow older and wiser and ascend some of Parnassus’s more elevated thrones.

Solveig von Schoultz has, of course, had a long journey to the top. She has behind her twelve collections of poetry, at least fifteen volumes of prose, and an even greater number of plays for radio, television and theatre, spanning a good fifty years’ acitivity as a writer.

In this long artistic career there is both continuity and development. It might be said that the continuity is represented by the fact that from the very beginning she has preferred to describe women – their daily lives, their loves, thoughts, impulses, relationships. But since so much in the world of women and in women’s thinking has changed during the decades since her literary debut in the 1930s, both her themes and her outlook have necessarily altered, too. Among other things, she has had many of her early, then only half-developed ideas taken up by a later generation, and has thereby had them given back to her renewed. As a feminist she has always been one of the least militant, and for a short time some of her younger co-sisters were uncertain about the strength of her commitment to the Cause. More…