Archive for September, 2001

Sightseeing in wonderland

30 September 2001 | Authors

Markku Paasonen

Photo: C-G Hagström

The new collection of prose poems by Markku Paasonen (born 1967), Voittokulku (‘Triumphal march’, Tammi), is a charming collection of imagistic textures born out of intellectual and emotional impetuosity. His prize-winning earlier collections of poetry, Aurinkopunos and Verkko (‘Sunbraid’, 1997, and ‘The net’, 1999, WSOY), were well-received. Writing about the first collection in Books from Finland 2/1998, fellow poet and former editor of Books from Finland Jyrki Kiiskinen said it reminded him of the late Octavio Paz’s exuberant tropical poetry: ‘But our man does live in Helsinki, where it may snow in May.’ More…

No longer I:

30 September 2001 | Fiction, poetry

From Voittokulku (‘Triumphal march’, Tammi, 2001). Illustrations by Jukka Korkeila

Tiamat [Bloody moon]

The goat’s cheese that I have just succeeded in swallowing is now grazing in my gullet before its last metamorphosis. Soon it will be washed away into the endless system of tubing, the network of veins that proliferates beneath the paving stones. The body expels the waste and another receives it. Some people believe they are different bodies, but on thorough examination it is clear that they are both part of one and the same liquid-channeling system. I speak of a body which is a city, of liquids which surge beneath the streets, of subterranean waters. I lift a manhole cover and behold a sea which you could never dream of. The sea is a living creature and knows me better than I do myself. When I close my eyes, I see a crayfish that climbs out of the water and stretches out its pincers toward a bloody moon. What does it mean? Of that I do not wish to speak a single word.


Hay-smelling heart

Issue 3/2001 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

In Eva-Stina Byggmästar’s poetry, everything is different, She writes highly original poetry whose harmony, breathing rhythm and naïvist imagery, rooted in the rural environment and nature, lodge in the mind immediately at first reading.

Byggmästar (born 1967) published her first collection I glasskärvornas rike (‘In the kingdom of glass-splinters’) at the age of nineteen, in 1986; her best-known works are För upp en svan (‘Put to flight a swan’, 1992), Framåt i blått (‘Forward in blue’, 1994) and Bo under ko (‘Live under co’’, 1997; Söderströms), known as the Joy trilogy. She has received a number of prizes in both Finland and Sweden, and a long-awaited translation of her selected poetry is to appear in Finnish in 2002.

Her eighth collection of poetry, Den harhjärtade människan (‘Hare-heart’, 2001), marks a distinct change of tone compared to the Joy trilogy. The speaker of the poems, a childish joker and cultivator of language, wanders through a subterranean forest of tears grieving over what is lost. Finally she withdraws from human company into the midst of nature and allows her wounded heart to change into a hare. More…

Strange songs

Issue 3/2001 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Den harhjärtade människan (‘Hare-heart’, Söderström & Co., 2001). Introduction by Helena Sinervo

You see,
it becomes evening,
over reeds and marsh meadows… The moon’s time,
the moon’s hours… one leaves one’s body
and does not come back until dawn…
Now I think of the grass and of the small
lizard that sleeps in my lap, my child
with that silver-coloured skin and of
the voices of the wild dogs that the moon loves.
Once there were forests, rivers
and seas on the moon, they are still there –
death is merely the needle that
opens your eye so that at last you
can see, the light
we lived in.


Pleasures of war

Issue 3/2001 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Ulla-Lena Lundberg’s novel Marsipansoldaten (‘The marzipan soldier’, Söderström & Co., 2001) charts the lives of a family of Swedish-speaking Finns thrown into the vortex of Finland’s Second World War struggle against the Soviet Union. Maria Antas talks to the author about the strange normality of war – and her characters’ obsession with food

It comes as something of a surprise when Ulla-Lena Lundberg suddenly says, despite its subject, that her war novel is probably the most light-hearted book she has written.

Lundberg (born 1947) made her literary debut as a teenager as early as 1962, and has since written successfully in many genres: travel and cultural writing about Japan, the USA, the Kalahari Desert and Siberia. A wide-ranging trilogy about seafaring on the Åland islands from the mid-19th century to the 1990s has been her biggest success, and began with the novel Leo. The starting-point for Marsipansoldaten is a collection of letters Lundberg has owned since she was sixteen. The letters of her own father and her uncles from the front to their families at home have lived with her and have, as it were, been waiting to be rewritten as a story. More…

A life at the front

Issue 3/2001 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Marsipansoldaten (‘The marzipan soldier’, Söderström & Co., 2001). Introduction by Maria Antas

[Autumn 1939]

Göran goes off to the war as a volunteer and gives the Russians one on the jaw. Well, then. First there is training, of course.

Riihimäki town. Recruit Göran Kummel billeted with 145 others in Southern elementary school. 29 men in his dormitory. A good tiled stove, tolerably warm. Tea with bread and butter for breakfast, substantial lunch with potatoes and pork gravy or porridge and milk, soup with crispbread for dinner. After three days Göran still has more or less all his things in his possession. And it is nice to be able to strut up and down in the Civil Guard tunic and warm cloak and military boots while many others are still trudging about in the things they marched in wearing. The truly privileged ones are probably attired in military fur-lined overcoats and fur caps from home, but the majority go about in civilian shirts and jackets and trousers, the most unfortunate in the same blue fine-cut suits in which they arrived, trusting that they would soon be changing into uniform. More…