Wednesday, October 20, 2010

FinNALA News Fall 2010

Welcome to the new FinNALA Newsletter!
I am tremendously excited to start a new phase of our publishing history, and I think this online version without the pdf files will be much more attractive. In addition, it allows us a bit more flexibility in terms of visuals. Visit our homepage at

Kippis! Contest
This year, we host our creative writing contest again--our third annual Kippis! contest. Send your short fiction (up to 3,000 words), poetry (three poems up to six double-spaced pages), and nonfiction (up to 3,000 words) with genre clearly identified along with the $25 entry fee (check or money order made out to Kippis!) by the deadline of December 15, 2010,  to the address below. Include your physical mailing address and your email address with your submission. Multiple submissions welcome, but be sure to include a $25 fee with each entry.

Beth Virtanen, Editor
47283 Huron Street
Atlantic Mine, MI 49905

We will award first, second, and third prizes of $100, $50, and $25 respectively. We will also make note of a number of worthy Honorable Mentions.

FinNALA at FinnGrandFest in July/August
FinNALA members showed up in force at FinnGrandFest is Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, for planned readings and writing workshops. Nancy Mattson, Sheila Packa and Kathy McTavish, Josef Aukee, Kaarina Brooks, Beth Virtanen, Ernest Hekkanen, John Byk, and Lauri Anderson all presented.

FinNALA Members Josef Aukee and Nancy Mattson (pictured at left) met for the first time between events at FinnGrandFest 2010. Nancy is author of numerous works of poetry, including Maria Breaks her Silence (Coteau Books, 1989) and most recently Writing with Mercury (Flambard Press, 2006) Josef's Town and Country: Poems appeared in 2009 from Partial View.             

Virtanen Commended into the Kalevalaseura
Professor Beth Virtanen was commended into the Kalevalaseura of Helsinki at FinnGrandFest 2010 in Sault Ste. Marie. Her commendation was presented by Borje Vahamaki and Hannele Jonnson-Korhola.

Brooks Coloring Book Out Now!
Kaarina Brooks has come up with a new project: "ABC of Finland: An Educational Colouring Book"! It contains well-researched drawings (by Kaarina) of the Finnish scene for every letter of the alphabet, from A to Ӧ, and interesting facts about Finland on every page. It even has some simple recipes!

The book can be a useful tool for teachers of Finnish Language Schools and it even comes with a Teacher's Guide that includes sample lesson plans with follow-up activities, games, songs and poems.

It will make a great gift for all children and adults who love to colour and learn about Finland in the process!

For schools the special rate is: a package of 10 books and the Teacher's Guide for $50.00 plus postage. For single orders the price is $10.00/book, including postage.

Packa's Expanded Echo and Lightning Available
Sheila Packa's Echo and Lighting is now available. Order it from Sheila here:

Echo & Lightning (expanded edition) is about migration and change.  The poems are created for oral storytelling. This book is an expanded version of a chapbook of the same title; also included are many poems from the audio CD, Undertow, and the chapbook, Fearful JourneyThe Kalevala is the grandmother of this work; the middle section of the book (Undertow) explores the experience of the Water Mother. 

It is inspired by a Finnish poet, Helvi Juvonen, Walt Whitman, W.B. Yeats, and the Gnostic text, Thunder, Perfect Mind.  The poems consider intersections with the divine in the Greek Myth of Leda and the Swan, The Bible (Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Lot’s Wife) and the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydyce.

Sheila Packa and Kathy McTavish Performed at FinnGrandFest
Sheila and Kathy packed the room at FinnGrandFest. More than fifty people came to hear Sheila read and recite while Kathy accompanied her on Cello. The performance was organic and moving; unrehearsed but well-coordinated, the presentation held spellbound those in attendance.

Unique poetry book depicts experience of moving from Finland to America
ROYAL OAK, Mich., July 26, 2010 – The poetry of Eelu Kiviranta, who emigrated from Finland to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at the turn of the 20th century to seek a better life, has been compiled and translated into English in a newly released book, A Rascal’s Craft: Musings of a Finnish-American Immigrant

This one-of-a-kind book, presented in both Finnish and English, offers a glimpse into the immigrant experience through the Finnish storytelling tradition of arkkiveisu. Kiviranta’s engaging poetry describes a variety of contemporary events – from what it was like to work in Michigan’s copper mines, to the Temperance Movement, to commentary on America’s new-found obsession with the horseless carriage.

This book marks the first time Kiviranta’s poems have been translated into English. His granddaughter, Lillian Lehto, took up the challenge as a labor of love after professional translators said it would be too daunting a task. Her translations remain true to the poems’ style and enchanting rhyme, providing for a unique and enjoyable cultural experience.

Publication of A Rascal’s Craft was made possible in part by support from the Finlandia Foundation National. Kiviranta’s great-grandson, attorney and award-winning author Steve Lehto, is a contributor to the book and wrote its introduction.

James N. Kurtti, director of the Finnish American Heritage Center, wrote the book’s foreword. “I trust I speak for the Finnish-American community when I express gratitude that the works of Eelu Kiviranta have been taken from ‘the cold’ and shared with us,” Kurtti writes.

A Rascal’s Craft is available for purchase at  HYPERLINK "" or by calling 248-589-2170. 128 pages, trade paperback, US$19.95.

Eero Sorila-Rothberg Book in Print
A travel book by Eric (Eero ) Sorila-Rothberg of crazy adventures on a shoestring budget in 30 destinations including, Antarctica,North Korea, Easter Island and Mongolia has just been released.
When without money to pay for accommodations a lawn in a park has been my GREEN MATTRESS UNDER THE STARS Orders@  or 1-888-795-4274

Lauri Anderson to Present at Luther College
Lauri will be a participant and presenter at The Vibrant Word A Festival of Writers at Luther College Oct. 29-31.  He will serve as a panelist in a discussion titled A Sense of Place, will sign books, and will do a reading.

Lisbeth Holt Places Story in Travelworld News
Lisbeth's story on the region of Minas Gerais, Brazil, which I visited in September, has just now appeared in the November issue of Travel World News.  (Check 

Hilary Virtanen July Article in JoFS Receives Prize 
Hilary Virtanen's article on Tipperary parodies in the July JoFS got a prize from the American Folklore Society's Nordic-Baltic Section: the Boreal Prize for the best grad student published article in Nordic or Baltic topics.

Kaunonen's Latest Book Wins Award
Gary Kaunonen's book Challenge Accepted received an award from the Historical Society of Michigan in its commercial and university press publications category.

Brooks' Kalevala Was Available at FinnGrandFest
Kaarina Brooks was available to autograph her award winning children's Kalevala at FinnGrandFest 2010. She is pictured here with the award-winning text.

Essay Contest Accepting Essays
"If I had a Million Dollars" essay contest is interested in 500-1000 word essays describing what you would do with a million dollars, tax free, and how it would change you, your family, and your community; for better or for worse. The deadline is October 31st, no entry fee, 500 word minimum. The prizes are $100 for first place, $50 for second place, and $25 for third place, and three honorable mentions. Winners will be notified, and paid, no later than December 15th. Submissions can be sent in the body of email or as an attachment, (Word only), to: or Brian Foreman, PO BOX 273, Hubbell, MI 49934.

Sirpa Kaukinen and Kaarina Brooks at the Essar Centre
Sirpa, our assistant editor for the newsletter, and Kaarina manned a booth at the Essar Center during FinnGrandFest where they sold books, calendars and artwork.

Kaarina's latest translation, The Kalevala: Tales of Magic and Adventure, was on sale at the booth, and Kaarina was gracious enough to autograph copies that were purchased.  Sirpa, of course, contributes to our FinNALA editorial team, and has also published a 2011 calendar which was available at the booth.    

Sirpa's calendar, Toronto-Finlandia Lions Club 2011 Calendar of Finnish Crafts, Traditions, and Proverbs, is pictured at right.  

Aspasia Books Announces
Three New Publications
Appearing in Summer 2010 in the Soo are:

1. Varpu Lindström: "I Won't Be a Slave!" Selected Articles on Finnish Canadian Women's History. 152 pages. $25 retail.

2. Börje Vähämäki, ed. and transl., A Treasury of Finnish Love Poems, 128 pages. Bilingual edition. Hard cover. Retail $15.

3. Diamonds of the North - Songs from Scandinavia, CD. Performed byCindy Koistinen, soprano & Heidi Saario, Piano. Retail $17.

These and other products can be ordered by email and after FinnGrandFest 2010 online

G. K. Wuori's  Monthly Cold Iron Is Available
No rants, ravings, or contumely this month - just a kinder, gentler Cold Iron musing on a small part of life as it is lived today.  Enlightenment awaits you at He is pictured here as he read at FinnGrandFest 2010 in Sault Ste. Marie.

Finnish-American Poets to Perform in Berkeley on 24 October
Open Microphone Follows on Sunday, October 24-Finnish-American Poetry by:

Paula Erkkila, Johanna Rauhala, Bill Vartnaw, Don Hagelberg, read in English, with hosts Gina Hansen & Harry Siitonen. Lisa daCunha-Koski will also read.


Find us in the Basement [Enter from the North] of the Finnish Kaleva Hall, 1970 Chestnut Street at University, Berkeley CA 94702


Information at (510-849-0125) OR at ( )

Order a New Chapbook of Finnish-American Poetry
The New Chapbook: Finnish-American Poetry by Rauhala, Vartnaw, Hagelberg
57 pages long, with biographical shorts and after thought:

Send Order To:
The Finnish Kalevala Hall,
1970 Chestnut Street,
Berkeley, CA 94702-1723

Make check$ payable to: U.F.K.B.&S. #21
for $6.95 uncut; & $7.95 cut;

$3.95 postage/ handling costs for each volume in U. S.;
$3.00 extra for Europe.
More information: << >>.

The Finns of New Finland, written and illustrated in photos, sketches and woodcut prints by Hazel Lauttamus Birt is available nowA look at the poignant efforts of the first Finnish settlers on the Canadian Prairies to survive the harsh conditions of their new home by reaching back to their ancient customs, mythology and folklore.

Available from Hazlyn Press, 705-610 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg R3c 0G5.
Phone 1-204-888-6743   $14.00 includes postage.

Writer, Poet, Editor, Artist, etc., Ernest Hekkanen Pictured with Wuori and Virtanen at FinnFest

The members of FinNALA had opportunity for the first time to become acquainted at FinnGrandFest in Sault Ste. Marie. Here, Virtanen, Wuori and Hekkanen visit outside the conference rooms at the Delta Hotel where the lectures, readings and writing workshops were presented.

Jasmín, the Dancer
by Anita Erola

Part One

Jasmín met a fella,
So dashing and so keen,
He even called her Bella,
Who knew he could also be mean.

Together they went dancing,
In hot spots ‘round our bay,
The salsa, meringue, and the swing,
They danced the night away.

In May sometime later,
He took her far away,
And that’s what really made her,
Scheme a brilliant getaway.

No one ever said much although they all knew,
Jasmín left the fella for a clown who never made her blue.

Part Two

You’ve heard the story of Jasmín
Our heroine brave and fair,
She danced, romanced, then blew the scene,
With hibiscus in her hair.

When intuition told her,
To pack her bags post haste,
And leave sooner than later,
There wasn’t a minute to waste.

And how it really happened,
The circus rolled into town,
Jasmín seized the moment,
Unabashed, she winked at the clown.

Life can bring many surprises at just about any age,
And Jasmín always knew she was destined to be center stage.

Part Three

So Jasmín joined the circus,
And a clown named Pierre,
Her new life had new purpose,
Including a trapeze in the air.

From town to town they traveled,
With caravans filled with surprise,
The town-folk were always delighted,
And Jasmín was a sight for sore eyes.

The nomadic life had its dangers,
Including the trapeze sans net,
They avoided unscrupulous strangers,
The lion was not anyone’s pet.

Thus their saga continued with spotlights and happiness for the rest of their lives,
And it seemed that in no time at all, Pierre Junior was adept at playing with knives.          

A Snippet from Pelzmantel
by K. A. Laity
Immanion Press (
Available via Amazon, etc.

The lad below us offers his hand up to help Hallgerd step out from the hollow of the tree. She clutches me tight. I get only the briefest glimpse of the lords and ladies gathered below, arrayed in their bright hunting clothes, before Hallgerd turns and makes her slow way down the trunk of the tree behind the nimble youngster. Reaching the soft ground, the princess faces the curious crowd, chin in the air and arms wrapped possessively around me.

“Well, well, quite a wily prey we have caught today, eh friends? Pray tell, Karl, what do we call such a creature? I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a pelt as this!” The smiling king reaches out to Hallgerd’s mantel and strokes the soft fur. I growl as menacingly as I can and he pulls his hand back nervously.

“Goodness! Perhaps we should let the huntsmen take care of that creature for you, little one.”

“Never! You shall not touch her—him!”

Fortunately, the young king finds amusement in this sharp girl. “Do you know who you address, my fine lady?” He turns to the hunting party with a sizable grin. They take their cue and titter appreciatively as he continues to scold Hallgerd, who remains sullenly—and wisely—silent. “Why, I am the king. You do not wish to displease the king, now do you my dear?”
Hallgerd takes another tack. “This fox saved my lfe. I owe it protection.”

That really makes the king guffaw. “Such a noble lady! Whom do I have the honor to address?”

“I am no one of any importance…your majesty,” Hallgerd adds with distaste. She casts a discerning eye over his own wardrobe, an excess of finery seldom seen in her more practical world.

“No one of importance? Yet you are dressed so well. I do not recognize the cut of your coat, but it is a very fine mantel—surely you come from a dukedom nearby? Perhaps to the south, where they get more of the sun?” He brushes a very pale hand against her soot-blackened cheek. A couple of the ladies shriek with laughter at that, waving their handkerchiefs at his recklessness.

“I am no one and nothing but a poor kitchen maid,” Hallgerd replies through clenched teeth, “this cloak my only treasure.”

“But what are you doing in the woods, child? So far from home?”

“I—I ran away,” Hallgerd says and I see the gleam of the story-teller in her eye. Go with it, my girl!

“Ran away? Dear me!”

“My parents wanted me to marry a warty old man and I couldn’t bear it because he was so unkind. So I ran away—many days—until I was nearly captured by evil robbers, but this fox—he saved me…”

“How did he do that?” the king asks breathlessly.

“He—he ran at them, barking and growling. They thought it was a wolf, I believe, and they were quite frightened.”

The king steps a little closer but keeps away from my muzzle. “And this fox? Why do
you think it helped you, child? Do you enchant animals regularly?” More laughter from the lords and ladies follows this suggestion.

“No, I do not. But he is one of the animals whose pelt is sewn into this cloak so we have special bond. We must protect each other.”

“Fascinating! What shall we call you, my child?”

“They call me Pelzmantel for my coat of many furs,” Hallgerd replies.

Hospital Clock
by Eero Sorila

A night in hospital, the clock handles are ticking in the autumn of the year.
They are announcing the times of death without forgiveness to hear.
In the palliative Unit today the clock of death announces the end of time for two.
In the morning hours I hear a cry of death, the clock is ticking, this time for who.

The wheezing sound  of the oxygen hoses join the ticking sound of the clock.
The concert of death pushes the dying to eternity, without a word of talk.
Ambulance Sirens overshadow the subdued sounds in the palliative care.
Many have died again when new morning comes, as life deems  fair.

On the outside of the hospital the faith of our temporal presence is the same.
This is a pilgrimage of life, in the valley of death just once, but not again.
It is the requiem of humanity, blessed is the one whose trust is in the Lord.
Time will come when the clock in the hospital will stop, and death will be no more.

I Hear Songbirds  at Bedtime.
by Burt Rairamo

At bedtime when I turn my eyes away
From the din and dust of the passing day
I summon pleasing images to mind
By the visions of my inner eye.

Now once again I smell the sweet fragrance
Of just cut hay
From the stalks the reaper left to lay.

I observe no color was ever seen
Of grass, the thicket, and the tree.
As lovely as the color green.

I hear the echo of distant cowbells reigning
From the host of cattle in the shallows wading.

I observe dappled horses eyeing me
Over post and fence
Cheeks full of grass in a blissful trance.

I hear a songbird which thicket hides
And the babble of brook as over stones it rides.

I hear the lapping of waves upon the shore
And splash of returning fisherman’s steady oar.

I hear the rustle of the reeds and rushes
And the swoosh of bow when the ground
 it touches.

The sight of the bluest lake is mine to keep
And those white clouds that look like sheep.

This place of mine is pure and sweet,
The purest that I will ever meet.
Thus, I make these visions kind
To lull me to slumber and to peace of mind.

by M. L. King
Stepping along a trail, I hear a squeal.  In a wet, low area to my right, two big blue-grey wings—in slow motion—sweep away leaf litter, spread about four feet, and flap only twice before they fold in a fat old oak, which I proceed to and stand directly beneath.  
About thirty feet up, above a large nest, an abruptly hooked beak tears into an unlucky snowshoe hare.  An auburn eye stares downward.  Brief, sharp syllables—like fingernails on a blackboard—pierce the late spring woods.  Scir! Scir! Scir!  I watch a while and then I climb atop a favorite rock ledge, where I stand with my back to the hawk.  The scents of pine and skunk sting my nose, malt liquor cools my throat, and the shaded scene soothes my dilating pupils, until a sudden silence twitches my spine.  

I turn around and see the raptor swooping down on me.  Just before it strikes, I drop to my knees.  Adrenaline peaks.  As the hawk circles for another run, I flee over a sea of fallen trees and look back to gauge when to cower.  Three attacks later I reach a single track and stop, but the fury speeds in again, so I splash into a blueberry swamp and thrash my way through.  Scir! Scir! Scir!  I’m dive bombed repeatedly as I pant, and pound through the pucker brush, for a mile.  Once on blacktop, I slow, gasp, and listen to shrieks from the woods.                
Back at home I read that goshawks are fiercely aggressive, especially when nesting.                    

Lisa daCunha-Koski

As trees lose their colorful leaves
Slowly, silently without a noticeable sigh
We accept the threat, winter is nigh.

The long, lazy, lacy branches
Point or hang, silently, darkly
Without admitting to undress.

Are these skeleton-like, dark forms,
Ugly, or powerfully waiting?

What wonderful discoveries;
Scraggly, leafy squirrels’ nests, now showing
Birds’ nests, carefully constructed of dried grasses,
Old by half a year,
Surprisingly, now appear!

There’s a definite cool promise, of
Winter to come.

Why Wars?
 Lisa daCunha-Koski

A convenient way to waste resources?
Provide employment for the jobless?
Make the stock market rise in the military-industrial sector?

What if all the families said, “Oh, Hector!”
Then raised their families, their crops, traded peacefully,
Shared their abundance as they used their resources wisely.

Never again, the knock on the door
The formal, fanciful burial
To receive a flag instead of a child
Square, cold, calm, hard words of  “not died in vain”,
Along with courage, freedom, liberty, democracy –

To comfort those assembled
For all the days of their lives
Without their child, the husband,
The father, sister, mother, brother.

Why wars?