Sunday, February 19, 2012

FinNALA Newsletter: March 2012, Vol. 5, No. 1

Kippis! Is Online
The all-new Kippis! – Kippis! Online – is now up and running in its first edition.  Kippis! is the literary journal published by FinNALA, and is open to both members and non-members alike.  By moving from a print journal to an online journal we’re now able to do much more with formatting, art work, and photos.  This first edition features poetry by Jim Heikkinen, JoEllyn Belka, and Joanne Bergman;  a great and true modern-day love story set in China; our first-ever book review (Death’s Door, by Steve Lehto), and much, much more.  Getting there is easy.  Just go to and click on the Kippis! link.

For the writers among us:  Kippis! reads submissions all year long, and we love to see work from both beginners and more experienced writers.  At the present time the only compensation we are able to offer is great exposure to an appreciative audience.  We want to hear from you! Kippis! submission guidelines are here.

Bill Vartnaw of  Petaluma was elevated to the position of Poet Laureate of Sonoma County California between 3-4PM, Sunday, January 29th, 2012 in the public banquet room of the Sonoma County Public Library in Santa Rosa, California.

He becomes yet another Finn-Estonian-American to be so honored, accompanying Sheila Packa, Poet Laureate of Duluth, to name another Poet Laureate of Finnish heritage to be so recognized.

"Bill Vartnaw [ The Estonian version being Vaartnou. ] was born and raised in Petaluma, next door to his grandmother Elmi, and her sauna, although it wasn't used much by the grandkids.  His Aunt Hilma who took the bus up from the city [San Francisco] and read his fortune from tea leaves when he was a kid, kept in touch with the "old country."  He took his first sauna in Finland [at Aunt Sylvi's in Sysma] in 1970 and has returned a couple of times since then to share his cousins saunas.

He established Taurean Horn Press in San Francisco in 1974, which has published 14 books of poetry, including his own' In Concern for Angels  (1984). 

Vartnaw has had two  publications come out in 2009: Suburbs of My Childhood from Beatitude Press in Berkeley, and Postcards from Round Barn Press in Santa Rosa.  He can be found online at the Red Room:  >>   http//   << "  from Finnish American Poetry by Rauhala, Vartnaw Hagelberg [UFKB&S; Berkeley CA; 2010] p 23.

He was published in the Winter 2010 issue of Kippis, A Literary Journal 2:1 (p50,). Bill was also a founding member of The Bay Area Poets' Coalition.

The Fourth Annual Kippis! Creative Writing Contest is being planned. Submissions will be accepted from January first through March thirty-first. Categories include fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Fiction and nonfictions submissions may not exceed 3,000 words. Poetry submissions may include multiple poems but each sumission may not exceed eight pages. The entry fee for each submission is $20.00 and multiple entries are accepted as long as each is accompanied by an entry fee. First prize is $100, second prize is $50, and 3rd prize is $25. Judging will be done by the Kippis! editorial staff.  
G. K. Wuori has been invited to be the guest celebrity at a “Celebrity Saturday” event sponsored by the Allwriters’ Workplace and Workshop in Waukesha, Wisconsin.  The Workplace is an online and onsite creative writing studio that offers classes in all genres of writing as well as editing and marketing services.  The event will be held on March 24.  During the day Wuori will host a workshop, “Practical Magic:  Writing and Publishing the Short Story” for students of the Workplace.

In June, Wuori will be a guest panelist at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books sponsored by the Allwriters’ Workplace, the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, and Martha Merrell’s, an independent bookstore.  Focus of the panel will be on literary fiction – what it is and what it isn’t.

G. K. Wuori is vice-president of FinNALA and associate editor of Kippis.  He lives in Sycamore, Illinois.

Finns in Minnesota, a new book by Prof. Emeritus Arnold R. Alanen of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will appear in May 2012.  The book may be ordered from the publisher, the Minnesota Historical Society Press, or any on-line source such as
Lauri Anderson, author of eight books of literary fiction with Finnish and Finnish-American characters, will be a guest author at Iowa Wesleyan College the last week of March.  He will visit several classes and will speak to an assembly of the student body.  Anderson’s books include Heikki Heikkinen and Other Stories from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Children of the Kalevala, Impressions of Arvo Laurila, Hunting Hemingway’s Trout, Misery Bay, Back to Misery Bay, Mosquito Conversations.  Anderson is an old and broken-kneed literature professor at Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan.  His books have been published by Atheneum and North Star. 

Life is an Amazing Song
This is a wonderful book of a young boy’s life during the war times in Finland at his grandparents in Oulu, North Finland.  Later he was sent to Orsa in the Dalama region of Sweden.  After several years with foster parents in Sweden, he finally returned back to Finland to his mother, sister and brother in South Finland.  It was a happy homecoming after some seven years absence, but it was a shock.  He found his family’s life to be hard and raw.  Food was scarce.  They lived in a tiny firetrap apartment building.  His mother worked as a prison guard and with her meager salary was barely able to support the family.  His father returned from the war and immediately announced that he wanted a divorce from mother.  After that he disappeared from their life without any financial support.  Not long after their misery, there was a change when mother regained her old position at the Internationally famous Hotel Aulanko.  The family moved to the hotel’s premises, into a solid large log cabin.  Now life turned out for the better.  The hotel years were exciting and uplifting.  Life was beautiful again.  A “miracle” happened to the boy, at age seventeen, when he received an invitation to America, with all travel and living expenses paid, plus schooling in Philadelphia.  He embraced his new life in America with vigor – in the land of opportunity – becoming a successful business man years later.
Review by Siggy Buckley
This book is a memoir in the tradition of Angela’s Ashes, My Life as a Dog (Swedish book) and a hint of Tom Sawyer, Enchanting-Sad-Uplifting-Refreshing-Humorous.
John Raikkonen is the author of a new exciting memoir about Finland during the Finnish-Russian war, year 1942 to 1945 and the after effect. Please view John’s web page:
Green Mattress under the Stars
Poetry, said Wordsworth, is emotion recollected in tranquility. This book by Eric Sorila-Rothberg is travel recollected in tranquility and from the perspectives of an entire lifetime. It begins in 1946 with a small boy exploring the streets of the Finnish city where he was born, and ends in 2007 on the top Mount Vaea in Samoa, where the body of Robert Louis Stevenson lies buried. During these sixty years the author takes us around Latin America by foot, bicycle and bus in the late 1960's,and across Russia and China from Finland to Hong Kong by train in the early 1980's. With him we ascend Mount Kilimanjaro in 1988, cycle through Japan in 1991, visit New York City and photograph the Twin Towers in 2000, see Devil's Island in French Guyana in 2004, and visit that other prison known as North Korea in 2005, and venture into still more places. Written mostly in the historic preset, the story is based on the author's travel diaries, and it preserves the sense of immediacy and participation as we join the passionate traveler in his peregrinations over the world. We meet not only the author, but also a host of other people, a few unhelpful, indeed, but most of them helpful and hospitable. We follow the world as it changes from the 1960's to to the beginning of the third millenium. And we learn, of course, about the perilous but rewarding art of travelling the world on a shoestring. In that world, from time to time, the grass in a park or field becomes a green mattress under the stars.

Stuart Piddocke, B.A., M.A. (Brit. Col.),M.A. (London), LLB., Ph.D.( Brit.Col.)


A remarkable story of adventure.  Green Mattress Under the Stars is about human perseverance as experienced by Eric Sorila-Rothberg in the course of his travels through thirty countries. By sharing with us his diary notations from those travels, the writer reveals his basic philosophy of travel, namely that willpower is more important than monetary power, that relationships are more important than comfortable accommodations, and that the experience of Providence is more than just sheer luck. The book is a page-turner since at the conclusion of almost every episode he leaves us with the question, “How can you top that?” or with the exclamation, “That’s incredible!” These gripping narratives of raw adventure (sometimes in the company of his trusted friend, Victor Kummila) are accompanied by fifty-five photos of nature and human interest scenes—most of the them taken on Eric’s large format view camera that he carted around the world—his one and only prize possession!

Sven Soderlund, Professor Emeritus Regent College, Vancouver, Canada

B.A. University of Toronto. MCS., Regent College, Ph.D. University of Glasgow



Diane Dettmann’s new memoir Twenty-Eight Snow Angels:  A Widow’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal is out.  Check out the reviews on Amazon!  Miriam Daughter of Finnish Immigrants, a memoir co-authored with her aunt Miriam Kaurala Dloniak, is also available on line.  Autographed copies are available at  

Through a Keyhole I Look, Life’s Eternal Deep
--For Booger. Rest in Peace.
by JoEllyn M Belka

White water,
The bow, it splits,
A gaping splice.
This fissure, within time-
This infinitely small space I pass only once,
in time travel-a blink.

Thoughts of you, take me down, drowning in fear
You, being lost somewhere out there
And my head swims a black hole, riding waves
Waves, like dog years-swift, timely, yet never enough.

I look to the sky
And find it’s me, lost at sea
You, you are safe, safe at heaven’s gate.
And in the boat’s aftermath break-it’s rite of passage,
            diamond  waters heal, slipping to goldleaf memory
            ~life’s eternal deep.
Free Spirits
by Marykay McAllister
She was tall and well built, about thirty and on the zaftig side.  Her long black curly hair streamed down her back.  Her skirt was short, above her knees, showing off shapely legs.  Her blouse was fashionably tight.  But it was her face and body language that were so arresting.  She has classic features and smooth olive skin.  Her large brown eyes were half-closed as she swayed in time to some inner music only she could hear.  Her voice was soft and low and seemed to be echoing the words of the sermon underway, the priest’s voice piped into the cozy chapel.  There were only about fifty of us there – stragglers who came late for the Sunday service, or those with small children who were free to wander, ask questions and even cry a little.  The rest were probably those who liked to leave early, and beat the crowd out of the parking lot.  In short, there were no apparent mystics present.
She stood at the front of the little chapel, alone, lost in her own reverie and her own form of worship.  It was place of prayer and relative privacy as compared to the large formal church in front of us, visible behind closed, glassed-in doors, which seated over nine hundred people.  Some in the chapel seemed oblivious to the whole thing, noses buried in prayer books.  Others stared straight ahead, either lost in their own thoughts, or determined to ignore unusual behavior.  A number looked up, apparently embarrassed, and then looked quickly away, uncertain of what to do perhaps.
One always thinks that one will do the right thing in any circumstance, particularly the unusual.  When you are young, you believe you will save the people from the burning building, or snatch the baby from the railroad trestle in the nick of time.  What you find out as you live life is that mostly you and others are frozen in place, glued into immobility by the unusual, uncertain as to what to do for hear that it will be the wrong thing.  It is not imminent danger that frightens us off – I think it is more insecurity about our misreading of the circumstances that stops us from doing something, heroic or otherwise.
The priest, speaking from the lectern on the altar, had his back to us, but was visible through the closed glass doors.  As he continued his sermon, the beautiful girl danced, swayed and began to chant a little, her voice a little louder.
I was sitting next to an acquaintance of mine, an artist whom I knew was a member of a lay order of religious.  She moved with a special mission through the world, most of her work anonymous, her goodness and kindness the only clues that she was a member of a religious order.  She met my nervous glance calmly and mouthed the words, “Pray for her.”  I thought, how lovely, and how could one go wrong doing that?  The girl wasn’t really disturbing anyone, the baby I the rear corner was fussy and making a lot more noise and creating a much bigger distraction.
There were two people in the chapel that day that did just the right thing.  My artist friend, Alex, was the first, but there was another.
As I mentioned, the chapel also served as a “crying room” for very small worshipers.  Today there was a bumper crop, always true the last Sunday of the month when baptisms were performed after this service.  The small ones ranged from a docile, beautifully dressed little girl of about four down to the crying baby mentioned.  In between were another five or six small children of varying ages.  But the “star” was a very small boy of about two and half, a silent fellow, dressed in a miniature guayabera white shirt, dress khakis and brand new shoes.  He had obviously been told by his handsome young father, who never took his eyes off him, that he could go up to the doors, but not beyond.  And he tried his boundaries, on our side of the chapel, over and over again, his huge blue eyes checking on the “parental electric fence” every few seconds.  Until  the beautiful girl began to chant and sway.  That caught his delighted attention.
He moved over to the center of the chapel, in front of the small altar, inches from where she was.  He smiled a beatific smile and began to sway with her, obviously hearing the same silent music as she.  They smiled at each other, her welcoming a kindred spirit into her circle it seemed, he delighted to be welcomed.  The priest finished his sermon.   God’s two special people finished their worship.   He retired to his father’s arms,  she retreated to the rear of the chapel.
I proved I was no different on this Sunday morning.  I personally have a built-in alarm system that senses the unusual, jumps to all sorts of conclusions, discards them all, worries about consequences, all in nanoseconds, and ends up doing nothing much.  Uncertainty freezes me into immobility, and disapproval colors part of the picture.  It stops me from doing the kind thing, until it is too late.  I think my prayers on future Sundays should be more like the two year old who joined the dance and less like the cautious woman who watched.     
Two Poems by Priscilla Harvala
Mojakka, what is it?  People ask in a curious way, and you laugh,
Knowing that questioning look on their faces….it’s a familiar one.
So, how do you explain mojakka without using a cookbook or math?
The simple truth is just to give them a bowlful….with a buttered bun!

Their expression of perplexity will turn into a sigh of pure pleasure,
As the first spoon full of mojakka passes over the tongue with leisure,
Their taste buds will burst into amazing delight when trying to measure,
The values of the meat or fish, varied vegetables, and spices we treasure.

Mojakka is made in so many ways using chicken, ham, fish or beef,
Browning meat well and adding onions to make a broth full of flavor,
Cover with milk or water, simmer; toss in salt, pepper, spices or a bay leaf,
Then add the vegetables - potatoes, carrots, whatever, and cook for an hour.

Every pot full of mojakka comes complete with a personality of its own,
Depending on the ingredients available and the disposition of the cook,
It may have large chunks or small, milk or water, and maybe even a bone,
One thing for sure, Betty Crocker didn’t have it in her cook book!

Mojakka was fashioned a long time ago by the resourceful American Finn
Who brought from Finland the ability to survive on practically nothin’!
When times were tough, they took a little bit of this and a little bit of that,
And with a bunch of sisu, created what’s called “mojakka,” without any fat!

The broth was sometimes thick and sometimes thin, and would depend
On what was in the pantry or how much money the family had to spend.
Generations later, mojakka has survived the test of time, and take heart,
For now it has become a St. Urho’s legend contest and a tasty work of art!

Copyright March 9, 2005 - Priscilla Harvala

Sinikka, St. Urho’s Wife, the Real Hero?

Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen!
So all the praise has been going to the boys again!

For many years Sinikka’s spirit has been watching all these doings;
Urho getting all the glory, and Sinikka, lying unknown in dark ruins.

But now, up from the grave, the spirit of Sinikka has risen!
“You know, Urho and I did things together, like a team of oxen!”

Many people thought that St. Urho wasn’t married and needed a wife,
But he was married to the shy young maiden, Sinikka, the love of his life!

And “So, what,” you ask, “did that Sinikka, St. Urho’s wife do?”
Why Sinikka did all those things that Urho didn’t have the time to!

It’s said Urho chased out all them grasshoppers, almost big and pigs,
To save the vines and grapes in the land where all the Finns live.

Then while Urho was out getting all the honors, many thought him due,
Sinikka was at home tending the vines where those grapes, big as figs, grew.

And when they were ripened, Sinikka would call all their twelve kids,
To carefully pick off those vines those purple grapes, big as figs!

Then Sinikka would heat up the sauna fire, so it was good and hot,
And threw in the twelve children, bare naked, all in one lot.

Sinikka scrubbed them all clean from their heads to their toes,
Wiped them down dry, and into the big grape barrel they did go!

“Now, stomp, jump, and play on those purple grapes, big as figs!”
Sinikka told all the twelve children, from the little one to the big!

So much fun they did have, all those happy children at play,
And so much grape juice was ready by the end of the day.

That it was then coming out so fast that Sinikka had to build a dam,
To store the juice ‘til she could make it into jellies and jam!

So, you see, while Urho was getting his sainthood many thought him due,
Sinikka was at home doing all the chores, which were not just a few!

Sinikka pounded their clothes clean on the shores of the great Spirit Lake,
Sinikka ground up the grain for the loaves of rye bread she baked.

From Sinikka’s garden they dug up vegetables to store in the cellar,
So the family could eat with rye bread, pottuja and mojakka all winter!

Then Sinikka had to reap the bees’ harvest and sell some honey,
To buy the yard goods and shoe leather, as they cost money!

Sinikka then taught the six girls how to sew all the family clothes,
And to trim the skirts and shirts  nicely with braids and bows.

Sinikka showed the boys how to cut and stitch all the family shoes,
And keep them in good condition for the whole family to use.

Sinikka milked the cows and made the feelia sour, she gathered the eggs, and
From the sheep’s wool, Sinikka spun and knitted leggings for all the legs!

So, you see, while St. Urho has been getting all the glory for so many years,
It’s time to honor Sinikka, she stood by him through blood, sweat, and tears!
Goodhearted, kind, and very hardworking was that Sinikka, wife of St. Urho,
And it was said by many that maybe Sinikka was the real sainted hero!

But nobody wanted to honor a woman, though a deserving Finn,
And give sainthood to someone whose name started with “Sin!”

Copyright by Priscilla J. Harvala, 10-16-01


A Poem by Eric Sorila

Muisto Äidistä                                                              

Kuin ihana ruusu, elämäsi kauniina loisti.                  
Kynäsi kultainen terä, monilta tuskan poisti.               

Eräs päivä ruususta lankesi kuoleman varjo                
Kirjoitus lakkasi, oli ohi runoilijan armo.                            

Kynäsi viimeiset piirrot  kiitollisuutta näytti,               
Muistin äitiäni surussa, ilo sydämeni täytti.                  

A Memory of Mother
Like a rose, your life shone with beauty.
Your pen’s golden point, erased anguish of many.

One day a shadow of death fell from a rose
The writing  ended, a poet’s grace at repose.

Your pen’s last traces revealed gratitude,
Remembering mother in sorrow, joy filled my heart.

Translation – S. Kaukinen

by Michael L. King

     Drizzle moistens an overgrown New England field, where hoof imprints in leaves that brown black soil between rocks cross a dirt bike trail and lead me into briars.  I push through the brambles, duck under saplings until I emerge onto a carpet of red spills darkened by a roof of green atop white pines, thick with age. 
     Along the deer trail, as I inspect dew-claw dented scrapes below rubs, chickadees that flit from twig to twig brush their wings beside my eyelashes, peck my jacket.  Late autumn breezes wave shadows through sunbeams.  I stop, light a cigarette to check the wind.  Resting on a blow-down, I absorb the woods, toned in variegated drabs and intermittent chirps.  Interrupting, a clink follows a stiff gust; I twist my neck to look.  Enshrouded by and suspended from a branch, a chain swings rust in a frosty swirl of smoke.
     I start toward a stone wall, but a rush of paws and dart of grey freeze my feet.  A timber fox flees over the boundary while steady patter descends a hillside ahead.  Tipped with black, ash, almost silver, hairs swish by sparse understory.  Another canine, resembling a German shepherd, approaches quickly, halts when binocular sights meet.  Acquired during migration, wolf genes bolster the bristled figure and sharpen the glinted stare of Canis latrans,
pressing on a forepaw.
     Time resumes when the northeastern coyote turns, shuffles away.  I assume I’m not a foe worth fighting, or food worth eating.

Two poems by Michael L. King

Foolish Math Question

Could sets upset
the sets of sets
that set the sets
of sets’ success?

Tragic Future

Thrust into thickets
of  thickheadedness, consumers crave
commodities and seek solace
sucking up caustic concoctions
of commercialism as multinational merchants
march in capitalism’s careless
quest for profits—provided
by politicians indulging industry’s
indiscretions, which negate Nature’s

With its resources recklessly
ravaged, our one and only
world wastes away 
while the poor ponder their prospects
for a felicitous future and find
no hope hiding in their hunger.


That Summer
by Lisbeth Holt

With the fragrance, innocence appeared,
Warm summer meadows of childhood,
Those rich endless play days
Of swallow and bumblebee;
The meandering river into which we leapt
Like carefree young otters;
Wondrous, fern-inhabited woods
In which we roamed as if sanctified;
The gnarled crab apple trees,
The swollen purple blackberries
Garlanding wall-high thick bushes.
The fragile summer memories of once-upon-a-time
Return to me with the fragrance of the rose
Arising  faylike from the mute dark soil.
I remember the long-abandoned farmhouse
Into which we stole to rifle through trunks,
Finding faded pictures and books,
And wonder who once lived there.
I remember the sweet wild strawberries,
The tender petals of half-hidden roses
As I close my eyes and breathe in the fragrance
Of that shimmering, childhood summer,
That summer of simple wonders
And astounding grace.


Submission Guidelines for Kippis!
Kippis! would like to be a suitable and comfortable home for your work.  With this in mind, please read the following guidelines so that you can better understand the kind of writing we are looking for and how we would like you to present it to us.

What We Like To See
Kippis! welcomes submissions of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, photos, and art work from both emerging and unpublished writers as well as more experienced writers.  While we are open to any style and subject matter of material sent to us, we do have a strong bias in favor of work that stresses the increasingly cross-cultural nature of the human experience.  The immigrant/emigrant experience, strangers in strange lands, language barriers, unique foods, music, social practices – all of these and more are part of the forces that can either unite us or divide us as a species, and these kinds of themes are what we love to present in Kippis!  Regardless of subject matter, however, make sure the work you send us is your best:  revised, corrected, proofread, all those good things.

What We Don’t Like To See
We do not consider genre work such as children’s literature, westerns, romance, horror, or science fiction, nor do we consider unsolicited book reviews.  Kippis! does not consider previously published (whether in print or online) material.

How We Like To See It
Fiction can range from being very short (500 words) to longer (3,000-5,000 words).  The same is true for creative nonfiction.  Since we try to present a variety of pieces in any one issue, anything longer than 5,000 words may have difficulty being accepted.  For poetry, a submission of three to five pages containing one or more poems would be the norm.  All submissions should be typewritten, double-spaced (poetry can be single-spaced), and in a standard font such as Times New Roman, 12-point. 

Work can be submitted either in the body of an e-mail, as a Word attachment, or through the postal service.  Your name and contact information should be on the first page of your manuscript, and your name and the title of your piece(s) should be at the top of each page.

Paper manuscripts not accepted for publication will be recycled.  If you would like your manuscript returned please submit it with an addressed, stamped envelope of a proper size to hold it.  Our decision on your work will generally be given to you by e-mail.  If you would like a postal response without having your manuscript returned to you, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope of a #10 business size.  Writers with non-U.S. addresses need to include postage in the form of International Reply Coupons (IRC’s).

Cover Letter
A cover letter with your manuscript or in your e-mail is recommended but not required.  It is, however, your chance to tell us a little bit about yourself and where you are in your writing career.  Let us know if you’ve published before and where you’ve published, but keep in mind that we are always thrilled to be the very first publication to present a new writer’s work to the world.

Simultaneous Submissions
Kippis! reads submissions all year round.  While we try to respond to your work as quickly as possible, the quantity of submissions we receive sometimes makes a prompt response to your work impossible.  Thus, feel free to submit your work elsewhere while we are also considering it.  We do ask that you notify us immediately if your work has been accepted for publication elsewhere.

Kippis! acquires First North American Serial rights upon acceptance of your work for publication.  All rights revert to the author following publication.  Kippis also reserves the right to archive your work electronically, as well as to publish it in a print anthology should we decide to put together such a publication in the future. 

Where To Send Your Work
            Electronic submissions:                                               Postal submissions:
           gkwuori at hotmail dot com                                         G. K. Wuori
                                                                                                Assoc. Editor
                                                                                                440 S. California Street
                                                                                                Sycamore, IL 60178

Submission Guidelines for the FinNALA Newsletter
The FinNALA Newsletter is the quarterly newsletter of the Finnish North American Literature Association. It accepts news items of interest to its membership, to authors and poets whose work is placed in Kippis!,  FinNALA's literary journal, and to Kippis! readers. The Newsletter reads submissions of short works of prose and poetry year round. Send submissions to admin at finnala dot com.  

FinNALA Newsletter
Editorial Team:
Beth L. Virtanen
Sirpa T. Kaukinen
G. K. Wuori