Search results for "veijo meri"

Translation prize

27 August 2010 | In the news

Rami Saari. Photo: Charlotta Boucht

This year the Finnish Government Prize for Translation of Finnish Literature – worth € 10,000 – was awarded to the poet, translator, linguist and literary critic Rami Saari who translates into Hebrew.

Saari (born 1963) has studied and taught Hebrew, Semitic languages and Finno-Ugric Language Studies at universities in Helsinki, Budapest and Jerusalem. He has been the editor of the Israeli section of the international poetry website since 2002 and has edited a book series for Ha-kibbutz hameuchad which publishes predominantly Nordic and Baltic literature.

Saari, who has also published seven collections of his own poetry, now lives in Athens. He has also translated Albanian, Spanish, Catalan, Greek, Portuguese, Hungarian and Estonian fiction.

Among the Finnish writers Saari has translated are Daniel Katz, Eeva Kilpi, Eino Leino, Veijo Meri, Timo K. Mukka, Sofi Oksanen, Arto Paasilinna, Raija Siekkinen, Eeva Tikka, Sirkka Turkka and Mika Waltari.

Rami Saari received his award in Helsinki on 25 August from the minister of culture and sports, Stefan Wallin. The prize has been awarded by the Ministry of Education and Culture since 1975 on the basis of a recommendation from FILI – Finnish Literature Exchange.

Boys Own, Girls Own? –
Gender, sex and identity

30 December 2008 | Essays, Non-fiction

Knowing good and evil: Adam and Eve (Albrecht Dürer, 1507)

Knowing good and evil: Adam and Eve (Albrecht Dürer, 1507)

In Finnish fiction of the present decade, both in poetry and in prose, there seems to be at least one principle that cuts across all genres: an overt expression of gender, writes the critic Mervi Kantokorpi in her essay

Relationships and family have always been central concerns of literature; questions about gender and individual identity have received a new emphasis in Finnish literature from one season to the next. The gender roles represented in contemporary literature appear to become ever more stereotypical. The question is no longer only of the author consciously setting his or her gender up as the starting point for expression, as has already long been the case with modern literature written by women. More…

Interview with Kerttu-Kaarina Suosalmi

30 June 1980 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews

In these days of seminars, conferences, discussions and panels, Kerttu­-Kaarina Suosalmi is in constant demand as a fluent and lively speaker on a variety of subjects. Whether the occasion is a gathering of young theologians, a pacifist rally on Independence Day, or a seminar for young Marxists, what she has to say is always both shrewd and stimulating. Her manner of speaking suggests not so much a radio announcer as a force of nature. Not that Kerttu-Kaarina Suosalmi is ‘a writer with a message’ in the accepted sense. She does not indulge in polemics; her novels are neither documentary nor autobiographical, but pure works of the imagination. Critics speak of her recent books as artistic triumphs. Nevertheless, the relevance of her work to present-day conditions and problems is strongly felt by the reading public. It is rare for such an abundance and variety of material to be combined with such qualities as spontaneity of form and excellence of expression. Suosalmi’s first book appeared as long ago as 1948, a collection of poems entitled Melanmitta (‘A stroke of the paddle’). Her early works in prose, Synti (‘The sin’, 1957), a collection of short stories, and the novel Neitsyt (‘The virgin’, 1964) were tightly constructed, ‘well-made’ works in the accepted Finnish tradition. A more personal style of writing made its appearance with Hyvin toimeentulevat ihmiset (‘These affluent people’, 1969). In this novel, constructionally speaking, Suosalmi breaks new ground: there is no consecutive plot, the book being built up of sections written from the points of view of the various ‘affluent people’ of the title, the thematic unity becoming evident only in the context of the entire novel. More…

Outsider art protected

31 August 2012 | This 'n' that

Moss lady: one of the 500 statues

Papermill worker Veijo Rönkkönen (1944–2010) lived all his life on a small, isolated farm in Parikkala, eastern Finland, close to the Russian border. In the 1960s he started sculpting statues in his free time which he placed in the garden around his house. The expanding statue park – take a look at the pictures! – was always open to visitors for free.

When the artist died, the Parikkala authorities were not willing to invest money in acquiring the garden and the park, a unique ‘total work of art’. Fortunately, it was bought by a businessman, Reino Uusitalo, founder of the Pyroll paper and cardboard company. An association now manages the park – and entry is still free. Rönkkönen’s outsider art continuously attracts nearly 30,000 visitors a year.

Over a period of fifty years, Rönkkönen created five hundred human and animal figures made of concrete. Living in his house in the middle of his garden, the artist avoided any contact with the thousands of people who came to wander in his extraordinary open-air gallery.

Now, thanks to Uusitalo’s generosity and the work of the association, the garden will keep growing – and the statues grow lichen and moss, ageing naturally.


Photographer and writer Veli Granö introduced the life and works of this self-made artist in his book Veijo Rönkkösen todellinen elämä / The real life of Veijo Rönkkönen (Maahenki, 2007): see Books from Finland‘s extract.

A gay fantasy on national themes

19 March 2012 | Authors, Reviews

Pirkko Saisio. Photo: Laura Malmivaara

Why does the private become political? Who makes it happen? Why should religious doctrines define private matters such as sexuality? Why should those who wield power in the political system define personal sexuality?

Pirkko Saisio (born 1949), a theatremaker as well as a prolific and versatile author of plays, novels, film and television scripts, has written a play for the Finnish National Theatre entitled HOMO! and subtitled, ‘An anarchist musical farce’.

Answers to the above questions – and they are complicated – are to be found in, for example, historical, psychological and sociological research.

In the last century, Stalin and Hitler condemned gays. Thirty years ago homosexuality was considered an sickness in Finland; forty years ago it was a crime. Today, it is still illegal in more than 75 countries: punishments vary from flogging to life imprisonment or death. In democratic societies, the ‘gay problem’ is a question of human rights, and hence a subject for public debate – for example, in a musical play, for of course the issue also involves that eternally fascinating and entertaining feature of human life, love. More…

To live, to live, to live!

31 December 2001 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

From Kaukainen puutarha (‘A distant garden’, WSOY, 1924). Introductions by Vesa Mauriala and Leena Krohn

Flowering earth

The earth’s spilling out purple lilac clusters,
a rime of white rowan flowers,
constellations of red catch fly.
Crazy seas of blue, yellow and white flowers
ripple across the meadows.
And the smell!
More seductive than sacred incense!
The heathen smell of the earth’s skin –
hot and quivering, making you mad drunk!

To live, to live, to live!
Living the high moment of life with a rage,
petals wide open,
blossoming beautifully,
raving at your scent, at the sun –
living tipsily, the whole way!

So what if death’s coming!
or this wondrous multicolour’s
withering down to the earth?
Once at least there’s been a blossoming!
The sun – sky’s
mighty and burning love – has shone
straight into the flower heart,
down to the tremulous ovule of being!

Kukkiva maa

Maa kuohuu syreenien sinipunaisia terttuja.
pihlajain valkeata kukkahärmää.
tervakkojen punaisia tähtisikermiä.
Sinisiä, keltaisia, valkeita kukkia
lainehtivat niityt mielettöminä merinä.
Ja tuoksua!
Ihanampaa kuin pyhä suitsutus!
Kuumaa ja värisevää ja hulluksijuovuttavaa,
pakanallista maan ihon tuoksua!

Elää, elää, elää!
Elää raivokkaasti elämän korkea hetki,
terälehdet äärimmilleen auenneina,
elää ihanasti kukkien.
tuoksustansa, auringosta hourien –
huumaavasti, täyteläästi elää!

Mitä siitä, että kuolema tulee!
Mitä siitä, että monivärinen ihanuus
varisee kuihtuneena maahan.
Onhan kukittu kerta!
On paistanut aurinko,
taivaan suuri ja polttava rakkaus,
suoraan kukkasydämiin,
olemusten värisevään pohjaan asti!


A writer and his conscience

31 March 1993 | Archives online, Authors

In the autumn of 1891 the brilliant young law graduate Arvid Järnefelt, 30, was just embarking on his pupillage in the lower courts of justice when he suddenly changed his mind. He broke off his promising career in the middle of a legal term, explaining that he could not sit in judgment over anyone. Behind his decision was his encounter with the work of Leo Tolstoy. After reading Tolstoy’s What is my faith? and The Spirit of Christianity, Järnefelt was stopped short by a sentence from the Sermon on the Mount: ‘Judge not, that ye may not be judged.’ He wished to obey the command to the letter, and changed the direction of his life, immediately and radically. First he learned the skills of smith and shoe-maker in order to earn himself a living by the work of his own hands; later he bought a small piece of land, and became a farmer. More…

Reading matters? On new books for young readers

9 January 2014 | Articles, Children's books, Non-fiction

Pixon brothers: a story book by Malin Kivelä and Linda Bondestam

The Pixon brothers don’t read books, they love the telly: story by Malin Kivelä, illustrations by Linda Bondestam (Bröderna Pixon och TV:ns hemtrevliga sken, ‘The Pixon brothers and the homely shimmer of the telly’)

Finnish picture books for children have long been reliable export goods around the world. In the last few years, a number of novels for children have come along in their wake: works by authors such as Timo Parvela and Siri Kolu have been translated into a good many languages.

Now young adult literature has also blazed a trail on to the international market – in what also seems to be almost a matter of precision timing with regard to the Frankfurt Book Fair 2014. Finnish publishers have been investing in their home-grown lists of children’s and young adult books ever since the turn of the millennium, and now the time has come to harvest the fruits of their long-term efforts.


On not translating Volter Kilpi

31 March 1996 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Volter Kilpi’s classic novel Alastalon salissa (‘In Alastalo’s parlour’, 1933) has a reputation as a ‘difficult’ book. A Swedish translation is finally ready, but no one has ever succeeded in translating the work into English. Books from Finland decided to commission an extract – and had to admit defeat

‘Volter Kilpi is no good for people with weak lungs,’ said the poet Lauri Viita, some time toward the end of the 1940s. ‘Reading him, you get out of breath straight away.’ Kilpi’s major work, Alastalon salissa (‘In Alastalo’s parlour’) will take even an experienced reader two weeks, wrote another, older poet, Aaro Hellaakoski, in a 1937 essay.

Both were right. If one begins to read Volter Kilpi’s extended novel Alastalon salissa (1933) in the spirit of an entertainment or a detective novel, one soon tires. One can negotiate the slow tempo of its text, its long, curlicued sentences and wildly original vocabulary only by applying the brakes and pausing from time to time. For myself, I have found the two­week reading period prescribed by Hellaakoski about right. Kilpi is a demanding writer: every word must be read, the path of each sentence followed to the end. More…

Happy elegy

30 September 2000 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

‘It hurts me to look / When nothing comes back to me.’ So goes the first poem in Kirsti Simonsuuri’s Rakkaus tuli kun lähdin maan ääriin (‘Love came when I left for the ends of the earth’). The persona asks us to look at a cloud lingering in the blond sky, ‘head wrapped in white’ and fading away. The lines forecast the thematic atmosphere of the whole: a happy elegy on the transitoriness of passing moments, people, places, times and love. In the cosmos of the poems everything flows, and the flow is never the same. But it is just this that creates the durable, the movement of continual metamorphosis. More…

Tutti frutti

20 November 2009 | In the news

finlandialogo_3The chair of the jury for the Finlandia Prize for Non-Fiction 2009, Professor Pekka Puska, compared choosing a winner to the dilemma of choosing between oranges and bananas. The jury found that among the entries were at least 20 or 30 books that could have gone on the final shortlist of six titles. More…