Archive for September, 2002

Humankind in disguise

30 September 2002 | Authors, Reviews

Thomas Warburton

Thomas Warburton

Thomas Warburton (born 1918) has for sixty years tossed off words, poems, narratives, translations, literary histories and articles. He transforms Finnish and English literature into Swedish (he has also has translated several of Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories into English) and writes about ancient Japanese culture.

It comes as no surprise that Thomas Warburton’s latest book is called Förklädnader (‘Disguises’). Having such a long experience he knows how to get under the skin of so many literary characters in order to draw forth their stories. More…

Cautionary tales

30 September 2002 | Fiction, Prose

Short stories from Förklädnader. Sagor, parabler (‘Disguises. Stories, allegories’, Schildts, 2001; Valepukuja. Satuja, vertauksia, WSOY, 2002)


All over Hellas, even in the barbarian lands, the lyre-players competed with one another. Odes, paeans, dithyrambs echoed endlessly. Phoebus Apollo himself generously oversaw these productions.

A certain promising singer, Deinarchos by name, who hoped to participate in the upcoming Pythian contest, sat in his study-cave in the mountains of Thessaly waiting for inspiration. He prayed repeatedly to Phoebus for help, but did not detect any response. More…

Hiding the soul

30 September 2002 | Authors

Petri Tamminen

Photo Irmeli Jung

The world makes people anxious, is the thesis of the writer Petri Tamminen in his new book, Piiloutujan maa (‘The land of the hider’). Well, if this is true, what do you do then? Rage and fight – or go into hiding?

The people in Tamminen’s world choose a hiding place. Fortunately, the world is full of them, and they are not only places, but also states of mind and modes of behaviour.

The writer and freelance reporter Petri Tamminen (born 1966) made his debut with a volume of short prose entitled Elämiä (‘Lives’, see Books from Finland 3/1994), in which people’s life stories are presented in about 200 words; entire decadesflash by in a sentence, or lives are summed up in a single event, often an apparently insignificant one. The comic and the tragic lie side by side, and are often not reached by language, but what the author does not choose to say. Next came the short story book Miehen ikävä (‘Male blues’, 1997) and the novel Väärä asenne (‘The wrong attitude’, 2000), which described the nightmares of a new father, plagued with a horror of bacteria. More…

Secret lives

30 September 2002 | Fiction, Prose

From Piiloutujan maa (‘The land of the hider’, Otava, 2002)

When we look for a good apartment, a good café, a good place to be, we are looking for a childhood hideaway. We are looking for the wardrobe we used to retreat into when we had been hurt. We will always remember what being there feels like. We yearn for that same illumination, felt by the baby Jesus in Mary’s womb, as the world’s light shone in through the hymen. More…

On the uselessness of poetry

Issue 3/2002 | Archives online, Authors, Essays

Poetry has become a habit, or a dependency, a bit like a long marriage, or the habit of doing the football pools, or of getting involved in jazz.

I began my career as a writer in the autumn of 1962 with a slim volume of poetry, Ventil (‘Valve’). Ever since then I have written and read poetry continuously. Over a period of forty years I have published about twenty collections.

Since for most of that time I have also had other jobs, either as a psychiatrist or as a politician (from 1987 to 1999 I was a member of Parliament, from 1990 to 1998 leader of the newly founded Vasemmistoliitto [Left Alliance] and from 1995 to 1999 Minister of Culture in Paavo Lipponen’s five-party government), my writing of poems has often been concentrated on summer holidays and weekends. So it’s often summer in my poems. More…

Selling to the lowest bidder

Issue 3/2002 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Dessa underbara stränder, förbi glidande (‘These wonderful shores, gliding by’, Söderströms, 2001). Introduction by Claes Andersson

We don’t have our whole life ahead of us.
Talk about your experience.
About the sensual, about giddiness and falling, about the time
            you were out of your mind.
I bow down, I proceed by trial and error.
Wait. Time is short.
I begin with light, light that’s autumnal sky-high
When I painted I saw nothing but the light.
Within the light: the invisible creating that hallowed
            feeling under a tree.
Each tree holds the light in its arms like a
            child or a lover.
Birds ruffled with light, breeding inside
            the tree’s head.
The touch of light’s wind on the tree is like
            a caress on the skin.
Birds that are everywhere, no one ever catches sight of them
            but sees them all the time.


Endurance tests

Issue 3/2002 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Jari Järvelä (born 1966) puts his characters in extreme situations, making them victims of crime, wanderers in the desert, victims of car crashes as in the novel 66 luuta (‘66 bones’, 1998), or of torture and extortion as in the novel Lentäjän poika (‘The pilot’s son’, short-listed for the Finlandia Prize in 1999) and of war in the novel Veden paino (‘The weight of water’, 2001).

There are also plenty of problems to be found in difficult relations between men and women or at work. Järvelä’s themes also include power games originating in expert power and the shame that follows humiliation. These are also linked with a criticism of the Finnish culture of silence. This stops people not only from speaking, but also from analysing their traumatic experiences. More…


Issue 3/2002 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from Afrikasta on paljon kertomatta (‘Much is still untold about Africa’, WSOY, 2002). Introduction by Maria Säntti

You’re exactly what a dog should be, I told him. You’ve a black ear and a white one. You’re not too big and you’re not all teeth.

I stroked his black-spotted coat. He wagged his curly tail.

I crouched down. He squeezed up against my chest. I sent my ball rolling along the stairway corridor. He shot after it, accidentally running over the top of it. As he braked, his claws screeched on the tiles. Sparks went flying.

He snapped the ball in his jaws, nibbled its plastic and sent it back with a snuffle. His tongue was wagging with glee. Next I wanted to roll the ball so he wouldn’t get it. It bumped against the iron banister and went off in a different direction, skidding under the dog’s belly. He turned and dashed after it. More…

Quiet strength

Issue 3/2002 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Eeva Tikka (born 1939) is an explorer of what lies under the surface, the secret strata of the human mind, who reveals the whirlpools that are generally hidden between the ordinary and the conventional. The themes of her collection of short stories, Haapaperhonen (‘The butterfly’, 2002) are death and relinquishment.

Tikka originally trained as a biology teacher and worked in teaching for a couple of decades before becoming a full-time writer in 1982. She has published more than 20 volumes, comprising novels, collections of short stories, poems and children’s stories. The children’s stories are illustrated by her sister, Saara Tikka. More…

Letter to the wind

Issue 3/2002 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from Haapaperhonen (‘The butterfly’, Gummerus, 2002). Introduction by Kristina Carlson

When Father comes to visit me, he sometimes sings a hymn. I can’t ask him not to. But when he doesn’t, I wonder why not, whether there’s something up with him. I can’t ask him to sing, but something is missing, the same thing that there seems to be too much of when he sings. It’s too much, but I miss it when it’s not there. I wonder about it after Father’s gone; my thoughts curl into dreams and I sleep.

When I sleep I don’t know I’m here, in a strange place. I’m at home, sleeping at home, in my own bed. The window is the right size, not too big like it is here; here there isn’t really a window at all, half the wall is missing and instead there’s glass. Behind a glass wall it’s not safe, everything is taken through it, including me. But sleep takes me to safety; I’m at home there. I breathe it peacefully. In the cabin there are two breathings, mine and Turo’s, and in the bedroom Father’s breathing. They are in no hurry to drive time away; time can linger, sleep, the moment of night, and when sleep withdraws there is no hurry either; I can sit in peace on the window seat and gaze at the cloudy, moonlit yard. The apple tree is asleep; it’s the only one. The fieldfares ate the apples before we could pick them, but it did not bother me or Father. It was good to look at the flock of fieldfares making a meal of the apple tree. Then they went away. More…