Kun suru häipyy
ja jokainen niistä
* * * * *
When sorrow fades
the memories return
and each of them
hurts one by one.
Aika on leveä sänky.
Minä jo kauan
Turhaan ei sanota:
levitän sinulle vuoteen.
* * * * *
Time is a wide bed.
I have long
settled for a narrow one.
It’s not for nothing they say,
I’ll roll out the bed for you.
Space is cramped.
minä annan elämälle anteeksi
virheen toisensa jälkeen.
Kohta on kaikki lunastettu.
* * * * *
I forgive life
in your embrace
one mistake after another.
Soon it will all be redeemed.
Ettäkö vain kerran vuodessa
ja niin lyhyen aikaa?
Meidan rakastaessamme heinä kasvoi nilkoista
koiranputki olkapäitten ympärille,
polku syveni pois.
* * * * *
Only once a year
and for such a short time?
As we made love, the grass grew ankle high,
grazing the hips,
the cow parsley encircled the shoulders,
the path deepened and vanished.
Jo kauan olen ollut varovainen,
— Onko tämä Jumalan lähettämä mies?
Nyt kysyn lisäksi:
— Onko tämä ihminen jolle tahdon
avata yksinäisyyteni veräjän
häiritä sen hitaasti kasvanut
nähdä sen rauhoitetut kasvit,
jättää jälkensä sen soiselle polulle
makuuksensa sen ruohoon,
enkelinkuvansa sisimpäni hangelle.
* * * * *
I have been cautious for a long time,
Has God sent me this man?
Now I also ask,
Is this the person I want
opening the gates of my solitude,
disturbing its slowly cultivated
seeing its protected plants,
its light-sensitive birds,
leaving its footprints on its marshy trail,
traces of his sleeping on its grass,
his snow angel on my snowdrift?
Kun yksinäisyys on häiriötön
ei ole enää kärsimystä.
* * * * *
When loneliness is undisturbed
it is no longer suffering.
In the second weekend of August, Krimi will celebrate the houses’ last summer as a festival touchstone with an extravagant garden party. Let’s do it one more time, sisters and brothers!
The festivities officially kick off at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 11, with the opening of a show by painter Santtu Määttänen. The audience will be entertained after the opening by musical mastermind Joose Keskitalo.
On Saturday, partygoers can arrive at Krimi early in the day and spend quality relaxation time with the whole family if they like. The music again blasts off at nightfall, supplied by Joutseno-based power duo Suominen & Härkönen, multimedia Guggenheim Projektz, and Australian-born Kitto, a great singer-songwriter who now hails from Sweden.
In addition to music, on Friday and Saturday, Krimi will have a really special program featuring performances, caricature drawing, and a holographic piece by the Power Builders art group. Partygoers are also free to express themselves and bring games, musical instruments, etc. The party will be conceived and celebrated together.
A detailed schedule for the weekend will be available shortly, and other changes to the program are also possible. While admission to the event is officially free, we hope that participants support our work by donating money as they see fit.
The party is organized by the Krimi Art Center in cooperation with the Krimi Houses, located at Koulukatu 1A in Imatra. Except for Friday’s art show opening, the entire program will take place outside. With an eye to the fickle weather, it would be worth your while to bring warm, waterproof clothes just in case. You should also bring something or other for sitting on in the yard. In addition, the sauna will be warmed up on Saturday. Bring your own towel along if you want to have a bath.
There are plenty of shops and other services nearby. The nearest campground is around three hundred meters away, in Varpasaari Fishing Park. People traveling long distances may also ask to stay the night at Krimi.
If you have specific questions, you can contact us by email at email@example.com.
The Krimi Art Center, a home and haven for Imatra’s current art students and recent art school grads, celebrates its last summer in existence with a festival on August 11 and 12, 2017.
Why has the city decided to demolish the two modest wooden buildings that make up Krimi?
I’ve already forgotten the “official” reason the houses have to go (the dreaded “toxic fungus” that lumbers round this fair land like the plague during the Middle Ages? austerity for students at the hands of the current bourgeois government?), but I have no doubt they are at odds with the city’s current development plan, which involves
demolishing as much built heritage as possible, even officially listed built heritage;
holding as many loud, vulgar public mega events as possible, such as the recent “concerts in the park” that ripped up huge swathes of the parkland situated cheek by jowl with the complex housing the city’s library, concert hall, museums, and city hall, while sonically terrorizing the mostly elderly residents of the nearby Mansikkala neighborhood for several nights in a row, and the latest iteration of the Imatra International Road Racing Championship, an event that should have been left buried in the 1960s, when it crashed and burned, but has been unwisely dusted off by the local powers that be and made an annual fixture just as worldwide climate warming kicks into high gear, as if sending huge clouds of smoke into the atmosphere is now cooler than it was back in the swinging sixties;
building as many big box stores for the now-mostly nonexistent “flood” of Russian shopping tourists and building most of the stores in the same neighborhood, Mansikkala, thereby making life nearly intolerable for residents of the city’s most populous district, most of whom are old-age pensioners who built the place and, when they were still working, actually made real things in the city’s once-mighty factories;
building something useless or expensive or both in the so-called Imatra Free Time Center (Imatran Vaipaa-Aika Keskus), which was once a wooded paradise on earth, featuring a pine tree-shaded swimming beach so pretty and picturesque it made you want to cry. Nowadays, however, the Imatra Free Time Center is chockablock with vacation cottages, a revamped beach in which most of those shade trees have been axed, a biathlon center (soon to be useless in a warmed-up climate hardly capable of producing large quantities of snow), a new Finnish baseball stadium, an indoor sports field, sheltered by an inflatable dome, a new camping ground (moved there to make room for the vacation cottages), and a new fish restaurant, erected right on the shoreline of Lake Saimaa. Hilariously, the fish restaurant was blueprinted and built by the city and its allies in the construction sector even though it had no one lined up to lease and operate it after plans for it were mooted and officially approved and, now, at least a year after it has been built down to the last doorknob, the mythical fish restaurateur is still waiting in the shadows, too bashful to emerge and take over the eatery custom built for him or her. Construction of the fish restaurant (which, were I a bad, lawless person, I would suggest the soon-to-be-homeless art students and young artists from Krimi should squat, because it’s not serving any other purpose at the moment) necessitated the clear-cutting of so many trees and the pouring of so much asphalt that it changed beyond all recognition the particular tract of now-vanished shady forest on the shores of Lake Saimaa where it was plopped down to no apparent purpose. Basically, it turned that part of the Imatra Free Time Area into a “human-friendly” desert of the kind that puts Russian shopping tourists at ease, or so the local Finnish developers imagined. It never occurs to the local Finnish developers and city planners they could be wrong about anything, least of all about Russians, about whom they pretend to know everything, but about whom they know almost nothing, which would be ironic if were not so funny and sad at the same time;
attacking and annihilating nearly defenseless cultural and artistic endeavors like the Krimi Houses, the now-defunct Taiderastit one-day art crawls, the International Semiotics Institute and its renowned summer seminars, and other things that had made the town attractive to a different crowd of tourist, as well as to local residents who don’t celebrate soul-, eardrum-, and earth–destroying noise and smoke as “culture.” Needless to say, none of these events cost the city or the federal government much money at all, but they were easy targets for hard-minded city councilors, MPs, and deputy ministers wanting to produce results when it came to the most sacred thing in Finnish governance: “savings” (säästöjä)
This is how the city of Imatra, South Karelia, Finland, imagines and actually implements its own future: by getting rid of lots of things and people that, in real and cultural terms, are defenseless, good value for the money, and anything but in-your-face aggressive and environmentally destructive, whether we are talking about trees and beautiful shorelines or mild-mannered art students running an art gallery in their own digs or foreign semioticians. The city replaces them with what is good in the very short term for the demolition, construction, and lowbrow tourism and shopping sectors.
And you thought Finland was different. How wrong you were. LIF
Pitkän tien päässä on kioskin kyltti
pimeässä sitä ei näe
eikä kioskia enää ole
mutta sen voi kuvitella ja muistaa
Tuon kuvan minä näin ennen nukahtamista
ja kirjoitan nyt ylös
niin kuin siinä olisi jotakin tärkeää
ehkä olikin, kun yön hämärissä mietin
ja vielä muistan
ehkä se on pimeä tie, ehkä se on kyltti
tai vain se että muistaa
* * * * *
At the end of a long road is a kiosk sign
you cannot see it in the darkness
and the kiosk is no more
but it can be imagined and remembered
I saw this picture before falling asleep
and now I am writing it down
on a winter’s morning
as if it were something important
maybe it was that I thought about it in night’s darkness
and still remember it
maybe it’s the dark road, maybe it’s the sign
or only that it is remembered
— Kari Levola, Kaikki kartat ajan tasalla (Helsinki: Tammi, 2006)
sanoja kotiini, vaahtera
ja alhaalla pihalla
Niin on kevät kuin polkupyörä
vesi jonka tuuli pusertaa silmistä
ojat jotka vieläkin kutsuvat
koulusta palaavia lapsia.
Kerran kutsuin sanoja kotiini
ja tänne ne jäivät
ja niitä on talo täynnä kuin sukkia
likaisia ja puhtaita, lämpimiä.
Kun kaihtimien välistä
näen lentokoneen höyryä.
* * * * *
I once beckoned
words home. A maple
filled up the window,
and down in the yard
at each other’s hair.
So spring is like a bicycle,
a whoosh in the ears,
what the wind makes the eyes water,
the ditches that still beckon
children returning from school.
I once beckoned words home
and they stayed.
They are like a house full of socks,
dirty and clean and warm.
When I peek into the sky
through the blinds
I see an airplane’s vapor trail.
— Kari Levola, Kaikki kartat ajan tasalla (Helsinki: Tammi, 2006)
Suomalainen on sellainen joka vastaa kun ei kysytä,
kysyy kun ei vastata, ei vastaa kun kysytään,
sellainen joka eksyy tieltä, huutaa rannalla
ja vastarannalla huutaa toinen samanlainen:
metsä raikuu, kaikuu, hongat humajavat.
Tuolta tulee suomalainen ja ähkyy, on tässä ja ähkyy,
Tuonne menee ja ähkyy, on kuin löylyssä ja ähkyy
Kun toinen heittää kiukalle vettä.
Sellaisella suomalaisella on aina kaveri,
Koskaan se ei ole yksin ja se kaveri on suomalainen.
Eikä suomalaista erota suomalaisesta mikään,
ei mikään paitsi kuolema ja poliisi
—Jorma Etto, Ajastaikaa (WSOY, 1964)
A Finn is the kind of person who answers when she isn’t asked,
asks when he isn’t answered, and doesn’t answer when asked.
The kind of person who loses her way, hollers on the shore,
and another like him hollers from the opposite shore.
The forest resounds, echoes, the big pines drone.
The Finn comes from over there, groaning, and here she is, groaning.
He goes over there, groaning, and groans as if she is in the sauna
When another person tosses water on the stove.
A Finn like this always has a pal.
She is never alone, and that pal is a Finn.
Nothing separates Finn from Finn,
Nothing except death and the police.
* * * * * *
Jorma Etto’s poem “A Finn” rose to national prominence when President Urhu Kekkonen quoted it during a New Year’s speech in the 1970s. When asked by journalist Maarit Tyrrkö what a Finn was, during a tape-recorded interview in 1976, Kekkonen also quoted the poem, albeit omitting lines six through eight accidentally or intentionally.
I have taken perhaps unwanted license with the sex of the collective singular Finn sketched in the poem, because the Finnish language has complete gender neutrality and, thus, utter ambiguity, when it comes to grammar, if not always (or, hardly ever) in real life. If you would like a more conventional albeit decidedly masculine rendering of Etto’s classic poem, see Keith Bosley’s excellent translation.
Photo and translation by Living in FIN. Video courtesy of Apumagazine.
If you are reading this review in the print edition of the LRB, you are holding pages made from paper manufactured at the Anjala Paper Mill, which stands (and has stood since 1872) on the Kymi River near the city of Kouvola, in southern Finland. Here, wood (generally spruce) from sustainable forests is made into pulp to which starch binders are added. The paper is coated with a mixture of clay and calcium carbonate. Its name is StellaPress HB: it is matt with a light coating which helps ink brightness and readability, and also gives (try it now) that smoothness to the page.
—Adam Smyth, “Ropes, Shirts or Dirty Socks,” London Review of Books, 15 June 2017