Author: Jouni Inkala


Issue 3/2007 | Archives online, Essays, On writing and not writing

Writer's block

The poet Jouni Inkala finds the words-to-be of his slowly forming poems unbribable

My little fingertip, the size of
a crocodile brain, and a turpentine-taste
on my palate monitor this moment
on the unoxygenated
planet of weariness.
One will be baptised – spray paint
suddenly swishing its message
in my brains – as often in my life,
with something darker than water
freezing in the font, and I'll recall
it's actually a donkey's-years-old
message from my own stanzas.  More...

Indebted to the centuries

Issue 3/2007 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Jouni Inkala’s Minuutin ja sen puolikkaan laajenevassa universumissa. Valitut runot 1992–2007 (‘In a minute and its half’s expanding universe’, WSOY, 2007)

Tail references

Mice don’t know that in the case of a human being
the death of a dear one may paralyse
a person’s capacity for years and years.

But in two things they’re more experienced than we.
They understand they’re in constant mortal danger.
That the trap is swift and silent.
That poison is a tear of awareness rising from the heart.

They also realise that in a cat’s claws they fly
like jackknives in the hands of a knife thrower.
And that when the audience finally gets round
to wakening up their hand~ in a rising storm of applause,
they won’t be distinguishable from the arena spotlights
or the ringmaster’s tails.

After their full term of service the mice pass out
from this time to the other side, and there see a miracle:
the sun’s heart beating six hundred times a minute.

                            In Helsinki, recalling
                            the Pinder Circus


Could you drop me a line?

Issue 1/2003 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Kirjoittamaton (’Unwritten’, WSOY, 2002). Introduction by Jukka Koskelainen

[Chekhov visits a French prostitute]

The room brightly lit like a library that stays open at night.
From the threshold onward, a scent of freshly cut damp grass
and resin. In the curtain swim black goldfish, gasping for air
and the carpet glows, all too red, a red carpet to hell.
The girl sits on the edge of the bed, her face
as expectant as a stuffed nightingale, stares inscrutably
at the guest, until the ice age his presence has brought
begins to melt a little around the edges. Drop by drop,
dripping. He takes his coat off, his shirt
but keeps the pince-nez on his nose. ‘Because without it,
I won’t be able to see you at all.’ The candle
smokes, hisses, even, if you listen to it up close.
On the wall next to the bed the guest’s shadow melts
into the girl’s. Then two horns appear on top of her head
and her shadow bursts into shaky laughter. Then she stops,
takes his mocking fingers into both her hands, kisses them
lightly and says, ‘Let’s do it quickly, and then you’ll just hold me quietly,
so I can tell you about my greatest dream.’
‘What is it,’ he asks, his hair entangled in hers. Now
there’s another scent in the room, the acrid odor of rails
made more intense by a hot summer’s day, and the girl
whispers: “That my two sisters and I could leave here
and go back to Paris. Home to Paris. Oh, Paris!” More…

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…

In this room, or elsewhere

Issue 1/1994 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

‘Some people play bridge; some people shoot pool; we read and write poems’, says Jouni Inkala (born 1966) of his generation of poets. These poems from his prize-winning first collection of poems, Tässä sen reuna (‘Here is its edge’, WSOY, 1992)

Behind the window, wet snowflakes rise and descend,
cold white insects.

In the summer, their brothers swirled in the sun’s low,
silent volleys,

as I sped on my bicycle through the dark gullet of spruce-rows some always filtered into my eyes, my mouth.

They were cool, even then.
Now I sacrifice toenails, relinquish some of my own warmth to the back of an armchair.

As a dark, painful spot in God’s brain,
which is unknown

as long as it isn’t troubled into truth,
pain made visible, known. More…