Author: Riina Katajavuori

The forest and us

30 June 2008 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Kerttu ja Hannu (‘Gretel and Hansel’, Tammi, 2007). Introduction by Anselm Hollo

In the emptiness

When we were children. We went to sleep in our father’s and mother’s bed. I got father’s sweaty side. You got mother’s fragrant blankets. We dreamed pale green spherical cloud dreams in wrought-iron beds and burnt our fumbling paws on the red-hot shade of the night light. We did not know. That this downy softness wouldn’t last. The rooms were always large and the big people were big and there was no sin. More…

Practically public

Issue 4/2002 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Koko tarina (‘The whole story’, Tammi, 2002). Introduction by Anselm Hollo

Pan shot

A whitewashed wall, small windows

advent calendar peepholes at the end of darkness,
                               lit-up squares

One two three kitchens awake at 7
each tenant bends over a kettle of porridge
in the gurgling coffeemaker’s soundscape,
opens the refrigerator
see the hunter in action: let’s spear this yoghurt

and the building across the way testifies to all of this
practically public activity
the evening’s closure of curtains, turnings-off of the light,
nocturnal breastfeedings. Talking windows. A light comes on at: 2:54 AM
– what’s up now?
Is someone thinking about a bird she encountered at the cemetery? More…

The unpassing of time

30 June 2001 | Authors, Reviews

Anne Hänninen

Photo: Marjaana Saarenpää

The poems of Anne Hänninen (born 1958) recall the paintings of Henri Rousseau, in which animals and plants, each in their turn, burst out, appear into existential space and freeze to gaze at the viewer. Hänninen achieves this effect by avoiding words, action words, motion. The poems often embody an expression, vision or performance of release, but Hänninen is able to make even the ineluctable passage of time seem oddly static: ‘the pearl-buds of the rowans once gone – / lilies of the valley. And from under the hepaticas violets, / and forget-me-nots from the wood anemones.’ More…

Sick with emptiness

Issue 3/1997 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

The poetry of Juhani Ahvenjärvi is a poetry of disorientation. Reducing its imagery to a bare minimum, it develops a luminously metaphorical quality through the act of reading.

I do not know Juhani Ahvenjärvi (born 1965), although I have drunk beer with him on the Boulevard Saint-Michel. I do not know what goes on inside his head and why he writes so strangely. In Helsinki and Tampere, audiences burst out laughing in the middle of his poems, but grow serious or confused toward the end. In Paris, the audience listened to Ahvenjärvi’s poems fervently, and it would not have occurred to them to laugh.

At funerals, too, laughter is, aftertears, the most common reaction. More…

Original Inhabitant

Issue 4/1995 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Kuka puhuu (‘Who’s speaking’, Otava, 1994). Introduction by Tero Liukkonen

They lie in the flurrying snow, languid as a naked woman taking a shower,
the mountains, their luscious thighs ajar; under snow-white skin,
confident rib-tongues curve down to the gully
where a lone skier slides and struggles in unbroken snow

A dense stand of spruce grows from her thighs, moonlight
shimmers on her flank, her hair is green

A hundred miles long, face hidden under the covers, out of the smoke
droplets emerge

slow is her breath in the wind, waiting for spring, under the snow

No one can conquer that vision, move it, bury it,
stitch it shut

she has come without being invited, living rooms grow inside her,
mice rub their whiskers in her hiding places,
obedient, the sun sets behind her, opens the dark door More…

While there was still time

Issue 3/1995 | Archives online, Authors

The publication of Kadotettu puutarha (‘The lost garden’, 1995), a novel by Helvi
 Hämäläinen, more than forty years after it was written, has been a literary sensation. The poet Riina Katajavuori describes
 her first encounter with the anguished 1940s intelligentsia whose lives it charts

I am in the midst of a strange, unfamiliar, 
lost World. These 1940s gentlefolk are a
 mixture of backbone and nerve: externally they look as if a breath of wind could 
blow them away but internally they are
 tenacious and unyielding in their capac
ity to look war and death straight in the 
eye, continuing their own undisturbed 
life, whose affected and aesthetic calm it is 
impossible to dislocate.

Or is it? Does not Helvi Hämäläinen’s
 Kadotettu puutarha describe precisely the
 internal collapse that war inevitably causes 
in everyone – even those who attempt to
 deny ugliness with lime-blossom tea and 
honey, cherry jam and the Moonlight 
Sonata? Into the lives of the main characters of Hämäläinen’s earlier novel, Säädyllinen murhenäytelmä (‘A respectable 
tragedy’, 1941), to which this is a sequel,
 moral decay, materialism and wicked 
manners have penetrated in the form of a
 wicked woman, the din of a radio or a 
noisy lodger. Impurities make their appearance in their lives, which cannot be 
aestheticised and around which no softening web of forgiveness and propriety
 can be spun. More…