Archive for March, 1991

The sun’s progress

Issue 1/1991 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

A selection of poems. Introduction by Erkka Lehtola

the wind
blew the clouds to travel
across heaven
the fire to speak

our gods
together with us
the same joy
dreamed dreams
the sun’s progress
along the highways
the moon in the vent-hole
aurora borealis
heaven’s stars More…

Words and silences

Issue 1/1991 | Archives online, Authors

A collection of poems and photographs by the Finnish Lapp artist Nils-Aslak Valkeapää is an uncompromising statement of the culture of one of Europe’s last truly local peoples

After its supersonic journey across the skies, Concorde lands at Rovaniemi airport. The steel bird disgorges its cargo: rich Europeans on a day trip to Lapland. Among them are a few even more long-distance travellers, from Japan.

Father Christmas greets them cordially. They visit the Arctic Circle. They eat in the frosty outdoors, in front of a roaring campfire. They ride in a reindeer sled. It is the exotic experience they have hoped for; they laugh for the pleasure of it. More…

Lady into Bird

Issue 1/1991 | Archives online, Authors

One of the ways in which the comparative youth of Finland’s culture makes itself felt is in the fact that there is never any great distance between low and high culture. Finnish literature has always naturally mixed popular and high art elements: in dealing with the themes and traumas that define the national consciousness, it has proved possible to use folk tales, pop songs or jokes as a distancing mechanism.

The work of Aulikki Oksanen is characterised by just this kind of mix. She is not only a writer: since her literary debut in 1966, she has also been well-known for her work as an actress, a singer of radical political songs, and for her illustrations of her own children’s books.

Oksanen’s interest in the world of folk tales and myths, and their modern equivalents, popular song and cinema, can be partly explained by her generation and its political consciousness. Appearing in politically engaged plays and films, writing and singing political songs, Oksanen (born 1944) was one of the most prominent figures in the Finnish cultural life of the Sixties. More…

The bodyguard

Issue 1/1991 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An extract from Henkivartija (‘The bodyguard’), winner of the Runeberg Prize, 1991. Introduction by Suvi Ahola

When spring comes Ossi’s sister tries to reach him on the telephone. She is worried; it sounds as if Ossi is partying constantly. Mostly she is told that Ossi is asleep, Ossi has just gone out, Ossi does not feel like talking. Unknown women call her a whore, tell her to fuck off. In the background she can hear muffled roars, shouts of laughter, music, shouting, the clink of glasses.

Ossi’s sister is irritated to have been left to arrange the practical affairs relating to her father’s death. There will not be much to be had from the smallholding, squeezed between two roads, and the fields have long since been sold. All the same, you might have thought that Ossi would be interested in this possible source of funds; it isn’t as if he has a job, at least not a permanent one. More…