Friday, June 22, 2012

FinNALA Newsletter
June 2012, Volume 5, Number 2

The Kippis! Contest has announced its winners. Congratulations to the prize winners!

  First place: Joanne Bergman, for “The News from Nelmi: A Retrospective” (nonfiction)
  Second Place: Marlene Stoehr for “Death of a Sauna” (poem)
  Third Place: Elaine Moe for “Cleansing” (poem)

Their work is published in Kippis! Vol. 5, No. 2, and you can get to it here:

Planning for FinnFest 2013 is underway.
FinNALA is having a membership meeting there, and G. K. Wuori and Beth Virtanen are working with Hilary Virtanen on the Programming Committee to ensure maximum participation, especially from FinNALA membership. Please click the link ( to go to the Proposal form on the FinNALA homepage. Use the form to submit your presentation idea so that you can ensure an early acceptance.

Nancy Matson has two new books out from Arrowhead Press.  Penelope Shuttle characterizes Finns and Amazons thus:

Virginia Woolf points out that as women writers we think back through our fore-mothers, the female line. And in Finns and Amazons Nancy Mattson thinks back. This rich and moving book explores the turmoil of the twentieth century as it affects the individual and those who, much later, look back, piecing together clues, retrieving what has survived.

These poems have clarity and poise, conveying the power and fortitude of women as ‘Amazons’ , ensuring that one such woman who vanished into history did not disappear without leaving a trace, but is given record and honour. This is a true task of poetry, and it shines from these pages where we find the ‘simultané’ of life, one powerfully-articulated thread in the brutal tapestry of the twentieth century.

Find out more about the poet and the book here:

The other new work by Nancy is titled Lines from Karelia. Thousands of North American Finns, gripped by “Karelian Fever”, moved to the Soviet Union in the 1930s to help build a socialist utopia. Nancy Mattson’s search for meaning and motive in that doomed project began with a personal search for her great-aunt Lisi, lost in Karelia in 1939, and went on to generate poems based on history, family letters and an autumn train journey to Karelia to meet her Russian step-kin. This pamphlet contains a few of those poems along with all of Lisi’s surviving letters and some historical photographs.

The work is powerful. You can find out more about it here:

Bill Vartnaw readings are coming up in the not too distant future.  On July 12th, at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, he will be reading with two former Sonoma County Laureates, Mike Tuggle & Gwynn O'Gara, plus Patti Trimble to celebrate Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who is having an art exhibition, Cross Pollination, at the Museum.  Here is the url,, but the readings are not listed yet.  Also, he is reading at the Petaluma Poetry Walk at noon on September 16th at the River Front Art Gallery with David Beckman and Ron Salisbury.  Here is a schedule of the Walk's readings:   Some readings happen so quickly there is no time to give notice.

Ernest Hekkanen will be reading at the inaugural Elephant Mountain Literary Festival in Nelson, British Columbia, on July 12, 2012.  Be sure to join him if you are in the area.

Steve Lehto has a new book, Drawn to Injustice, that came out last week.  It is not “Finnish” but it is of importance to everyone in this country. What happened to Tim Masters could happen to anyone.

The book was co-written with the subject and Berkley is the publisher.

In 1987, a woman named Peggy Hettrick was brutally murdered in Colorado and her body was dumped in a field behind Timothy Masters’ house.  Masters was 15 years old.  He walked by her body in the pre-dawn darkness the next day but did not report it to the police because he was unsure if the body was real. The police seized on this to accuse Masters of the crime.  There was no evidence linking him to the crime and there was evidence pointing to others.  Nevertheless, the police hounded Masters for years and eventually he was arrested and convicted, based upon the sketchiest evidence and psychological profiling. He spent 10 years in prison.  He eventually proved his innocence and after he was released from prison, he proved he was framed.  He sued the police and the prosecutors and won $10 million in settlements. The lead detective is now on trial for perjury and faces going to prison himself  for what he did to Masters.  The killer still has not been arrested.  Drawn to Injustice is the true story of Masters’ ordeal, co-written by me based upon Masters’ story, which he recorded in journals along the  way.  The book was released by Berkley in June 2012.


K. A. Laity is currently on a Fulbright in Ireland which had given her the elbow room to be very productive. Her most recent publications include the following:
Rook Chant: Collected Writings on Witchcraft and Paganism. Women’s League of Ale Drinkers, June 2012.
“Twitter Wedding.” Poem. Asinine Poetry (Summer 2012).
“Just Waiting.” Short story. Near to the Knuckle, 5 June 2012.
“On seeking a place for a picnic.” Poem. Short Humour, 22 May 2012.
“Wasting Time in a Writer’s Colony.” Clarion Foundation blog: 14 May 2012.
“Biscuits.” Flash fiction. Short Humour, May 2012. Also available at Postcard Shorts, May 2012.
“Chickens.” Short story. ACTION: Pulse Pounding Tales Vol 1. Ed. Matt Hilton: May 2012.
“Horse Clock.” Short story. Burning Bridges: A Renegade Fiction Anthology ed. Heath Lowrance.
“Bill is Dead.” Flash fiction. Pulp Metal Magazine, Spring 2012.
“It’s a Curse.” Short story. Drunk on the Moon: A Roman Dalton Anthology. Ed. Paul D. Brazill. Dark Valentine Press, April 2012.

Stephen Kuusisto has a new book of poems forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press on October15 entitled Letters to Borges.

It is already listed with Amazon. His previous books include Planet of the Blind, Eavesdropping, and Only Bread, Only Light: Poems.

He also recently bought a horse for his wife Connie. The horse's name is Luigi! Stephen holds the post of Professor and serves as director of the Renée Crown University Honors Program at Syracuse University.


John (Juha) Raikkonen has written an immigrant’s story title, Life is an Amazing Song . It  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 Dalarna region of Sweden.  After several years with foster parents in Sweden, he finally returned back to Finland to his mother, sister and brother in Hameenlinna 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.  He now lives in South Carolina with his wife, close to their grandchildren.

You can obtain a copy of the book by visiting   ISBN: 1453735100 The author will autograph each book ordered through the web site.

Kenneth Lundstrom’s latest book, Return to the Land of My Fathers, is available.   It is a fictional story, which follows a family's struggle from the time before World War Two to the middle of the 1990s.

World War II destroyed much of Europe, killing hundreds of thousands and changing the lives of those caught in its path.  Return to the Land of my Fathers” tells a story of a family’s evacuation from war-torn Karelia and their lives after the war.  Ilmari, the father, travels to USA and becomes a well-known artist.

Aleksi, the son is imprisoned in Siberia and becomes a member of the Soviet Intelligence.  He trains to be an athlete, representing the Soviets in the 1952 Olympics, where he defects.  Later he becomes a literature professor, specializing in Russian Literature.  Ilmari, returns to the “Land of My Fathers” in his old age, with his children and grand-children, but is left to question the emotional reality of his return.

Return to the Land of My Fathers (ISBN: 978-1-61897-347-4) is now available for $25.50 and can be ordered through the publisher’s website: or at or

Author Kenneth Lundstrom has a Ph.D. in molecular biology and is involved in cancer research and therapy. Originally from Helsinki, Finland, he has resided in Switzerland for the last 20 years and holds dual Finnish-Swiss citizenship. He previously published Taxi Trips to Remember or Forget, a travel memoir, and is now writing his next book. He frequently returns to the land of his fathers.

Donna Salli's play, The Rock Farm, centered around her Finnish-American heritage and produced (you may recall) a number of times already, including in Finland, was given a staged reading and panel critique at the Great Plains Theatre Conference in Omaha at the end of May. Her script was one of 35 selected from over 640 scripts submitted. She spent a week there, and says it was amazing. The conference was a play development conference, and it taught her so much. She has since revised The Rock Farm, again, and is very happy with where the script is now. If anyone in the FinNALA world is interested in taking a look, she is looking for opportunities to see the play produced.

The link for the conference is

Salty Dog
By Jim Heikkinen

Come to life the Morton Salt Girl steps out of the pantry.
Umbrella tilted coyly and wearing a cryptic smile, she drawls,
“When it rains it pours.”
Reaching for an aerosol can of whipped cream, I smile back
Then fill my mouth to capacity with sweet foam
Until a great cloudburst of wet fluffy matter covers the girl
Her umbrella proves inadequate, her bare legs unprotected
I must get more sleep.

Jim Heikkinen is living in Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on the Arabian (Persian) Gulf with his wife and 16 month old daughter, and teaching Royal Saudi Navy cadets English.  It is very hot and getting hotter (112 F humidity 45%).  He says, “Here is a salt (not ‘bath salts’ gosh—America is getting weirder by the day) poem”:

Musical Meltwater
by Michael L. King
(Jiangsu, 6/16/2012)

Between peaks of ancient voices,
meter melts from glaciers of epic
verses. The trickles carve cadence
into slopes, join streams
that water lyric meadows.

New Day
by Michael L. King
(Jiangsu, 6/16/2012)

Aurora’s splendid chariot ignites
the blushing morning sky with rosy-red
and purple flames from flying wheels that chase
the night’s opaque and drowsy veil away.
We wake, embrace, and taste our hearts’ delights.
We kiss, caress, rejoice, and bless our bed.
The sun ascends and warms our sacred space.
We pray at purity’s altar and lay
our fruits together.  Wrapped in silken sheets,
we nurture life with love’s ambrosial treats.
We sing in bliss of future days when cribs
get built and friends present their bottles, bibs
and tiny clothes.  A gleam engulfs our eyes;
we touch, delay, and rise exchanging sighs.

by Michael L. King
(Jiangsu, 6/16/2012)
(Inspired by Cao Zhi’s “Quatrain of Seven Steps,”
first draft written in Harbin in February of ’07)

A lyric written in the time it took
to take no more than seven steps might prove
that urgency motivates minds to work
efficiently, especially when told
to poetize or die.  Like lightning, thoughts
appear in flashes, fade fast; I have lost
a lot before my hand could write them down,
as I have also typed a panicked verse
or two in just a few minutes before
a task was due.  But after endless hours
in search of how ideas want to flow,
I found, to find what lines are meant to be,
that diligence works best, at least for me. 


Hazel Birt from Winnipeg writes about her beloved Finnish Mummu. She is preparing for a show at the Winnipeg Library of her woodcut illustrations from her children's books: 'Festivals of Finland' and 'Flikka and the Magic Bear'.

My Crafty Finnish Mummu
By Hazel Birt

In New Finland, Saskatchewan, my Finnish Gramma Mummu was a crafter. 
She did all kinds of crafts like weaving and spinning wool but her favorite was knitting.
I mean she knit all the time. She would go walking and knitting to the neighbors for coffee,
looking at the clouds, checking the wild flowers, listening to the birds. 

But one day this habit nearly brought her to harm. She came walking and knitting right
through the open kitchen door. We heard a big ‘thump’ then Mummu’s angry voice,

‘Who left the cellar trap door open again?’

"Oh, my God,’ we all rushed to look down. There she was standing at the bottom of
the shallow dug out with her knitting in her hands.
     She had everyone knitting. When Neighbor women came over for coffee Mummu
would say, ‘You might as well be knitting as just sitting there.’ And she would pass around
some knitting.

     She taught all us children to knit. I remember being this little kid missing all my first
teeth and sitting in my little rocker beside Mummu knitting. The family would smile and

There’s our two Mummus knitting’. 

I’d be chatting to her and she didn’t answer. I looked up and she seemed to be sleeping 
but she was still knitting away...

I turned out to be an art teacher and  craftsperson.  Mummu once helped me make a an
     Easter banner
for a church in the Arctic. It was to be in blue Inuit Slavic Lettering on white 6 feet
     wide to say,

‘Hallelujah, Christ is  Risen.’ So we cut and we pasted.  I was proud to show it to Moses,
     my Inuit friend. He said,
     ‘But Hazel,  it doesn’t say ‘Hallelujah, Christ is risen.’ You have the last symbol upside down. It 
‘Hallelujah dead.’ Like oops - we had to fix it before we mailed it up there.

Then when my children were small one cold day we arrived at the farm. I said, 
‘Mummu, It’s really got cold out. Do you have any spare mitts?’

Mummu got up slowly and said, ‘Tulla Lapset’ (Come children). 

She showed us a drawer full of mitts. There was at least 50 pairs, all with what the kids
‘Idiot Strings’ attached so they wouldn’t lose them. 

I taught all my family to knit and do crafts.  My grand daughter Anna took to finger
making long colorful ropes . She was like Mummu she knit all the time. She and 
I would sit knitting side by side and we’d plan what she could do with all her long ropes. 

"I know!’, she’d say, ‘For my sister Kirsten’s Birthday, let’s decorate the house with
Hang them from the ceiling! And Kissa our cat  needs a new collar. And I know, I won’t
     get lost in the
park anymore - I’ll take my finger knitting and leave a long trail of it so I can find my
     way back.’

I have no doubt that crafting in my family will continue to the next generation. Especially 
Anna will grow up to teach her children and grand children to be crafty like our Finnish

Tax Day
By Albert Vetere Lannon

I awoke this tax day morning

            happy              the

sun was bright in a cloudless spring sky

            quail were calling and doves were

cooing and a red cardinal

was singing at the edge of our patio    

dogs barked in the distance

            and a woodpecker staked out his territory

on our satellite dish                  the last spring wild

flowers sparked red and purple and yellow and

white and gold             our treasures

                        I filled the bird feeders           

fed the cat                    brushed the dog         

started  the coffee and            

made our Sunday breakfast    

a ham and cheese oven pancake                     

bananas and melon on the side

we sat in companionable silence

            occasionally bursting into silly song

                                    laughing           then

back to eating              scanning the paper

            full of tax stories of course

                        actually reading a story now and then

            and I saw this

            for every American combat death

in Afghanistan                                     there are

                        twenty-five suicides


active and returned soldiers                                         our sons and daughters

who wait months

                                                for an appointment

to even talk

about the


                        if they can

Bush’s war

                        Obama’s war

                                                our war

                                                                        on our children

and on theirs                            April 15, 2012                                    and continuing.

Less is More
Underwear in a Camera
By Eero Sorila

Too many buttons in a camera and too much luggage to carry on a trip?

You are not alone if you have been burdened by such frustrating reality.
I reached a point where I had to do something radical to simplify my life on the road.
You may not go to the extreme I did. But I feel that we can all discover the wonderful
reality that, less is more.
I ended up designing a home-made camera as seen in the photo. It is basically an
aluminum box that floats in the water and has a simple lens.
There is only one button to click. The lens opening and shutter speed are easily adjusted by a manual lever. Without batteries the camera is totally reliable.
The back of the camera is removable. Why waste space while on the road. I fill the
 “ box” with extra pair of socks and underwear.  The rest of my luggage fits into a small
Eureka ! For me, a fossil from the Kalevala times, less is more.

Eero Sorila

With his simple camera and a small backpack Eero Sorila has travelled the globe.

He has just completed a photo book of 25 Ancient and Modern Landmarks.
Available from Xlibris Tel: 1-888-795-4274     ISBN   978-1-4691-113341


Finnish Farm
by Diane Dettmann

In the dusty barn,
Diane Dettmann
The loom in silence
Waits to weave
Strips of rags 
Into rugs.

The sawdust covered 
Workshop longs
For the Finnish carpenter's 
Weathered hands 
To spin 
A wooden plate 
At dusk, Finnish voices 
Hum in the kitchen,
While birch bark crackles
In the sauna stove,
Calling bathers to an
Evening of 
Rest and peace. 

Rutted gravel roads
Lilac bushes, and
The crow's caw at dawn.
Lisbeth Holt

Kaupunki Koti
by Lisbeth Holt 

Kaupunki koti!  City home!
Mother’s kaupunki koti offered comfort yet sophistication,
Furnished with colorful rugs, paintings and books -
A private yet welcoming home in which she feted family and friends.
I see her little desk even now on which she wrote her poems and stories
In her bold inimitable handwriting, totally absorbed.   

She always wanted to live in a city home, a kaupunki koti.
She loved the sound of traffic rushing by the windows.
She loved to be in a charmed circle of events.
She loved to briskly walk downtown with her regal posture
To the grocery store, the post office, her daily routine
In the quaint seaside city of Lake Worth.

Now when I wander room to room in my city home,
I catch myself saying, “kaupunki koti…”
She never did see this city home of mine.
But of course she sees it now and I know she approves.
We lounge in the living room and sip a glass of wine or two,
Reminisce and ponder and tell riddles, too, with endless laughter!
We always understand each other, don’t we?
Together, then and now…in our kaupunki koti.


Newsletter editorial team:  Beth L. Virtanen, Sirpa T. Kaukinen,  G. K. Wuori.