Sunday, October 28, 2012

FinNALA Newsletter, Vol. 5, no. 3

FinNALA Newsletter
October 2012, Volume 5, Number 3
Publication of the Finnish North American Literature Association
FinNALA Reading and Writing Workshop Series at FinnFest 2013
FinNALA is hosting a reading and writing workshop series at FinnFest 2013 in Hancock/Houghton, MI. If you want to participate in it, please copy the form below, fill it out and send it in an email to bethlvirtanen at FinNALA President Beth Virtanen will forward our proposals as a group to the selection committee at FinnFest.  Presentations will last for 50 minutes.
Mailing Address:                                  
City                              ST       ___ Zip Code
Phone:                                                  E-mail:                                                           
Select one: Reading or Writing Workshop
Title of presentation: _________________________
Description (3 to 4 sentences):
Changes On The Way
FinNALA is currently undergoing a major self-examination.  Over the past several months the administrative team has raised a number of questions and concerns about the future of the organization and how well-equipped we are to maintain our structure and purpose in a fiercely-changing world.
Two major changes can be reported to the membership at the present time.
First, the Board of Advisors has been restructured and enlarged to provide for a more diverse range of ideas and opinions with respect to FinNALA’s activities.  While a number of former Advisors have agreed to remain on the Board, they have been joined by some new faces.
The new Board of Advisors consists of:  Beth Virtanen (President of FinNALA), G. K. Wuori (vice-president of FinNALA),  John Stotesbury, Fran Wiidman, Lauri Anderson, Ernest Hekkanen, Josef Aukee, Kaarina Brooks, Stephen Kuusisto, Raija Taramaa, Kate Laity, and Marianne Wargelin.
Second, the new Board of Advisors is already hard at work restructuring the FinNALA Mission Statement.  While there was nothing wrong with the old statement, it was basically a bit too lean and simply did not cover some things we’ve been doing that we do, indeed, think we ought to be doing.  The time table right now is for a draft of a new statement to be presented to the Board for their comments and amendments, with a final draft ultimately to be presented to the Board for a vote.
Please note that we are small enough that we welcome comments from anyone.  The old mission statement is still on the FinNALA website.  Feel free to take a look at it and don’t hesitate to send any suggestions or ideas for the mission statement to gkwuori at hotmail dot com.

K. A. Laity has had a flurry of publications this quarter: Chastity Flame, her sexy spy thriller novel and her dark fiction short story collection Unquiet Dreams, both from Tirgearr Publishing. Her alternative history/speculative fiction novel Owl Stretching is out from Immanion Press and she has edited an anthology Weird Noir for Fox Spirit Books. See the complete list of new publications at

Ernest Hekkanen has a new book, Flesh and Spirit:  The Rasputin Meditations, which was published in September.  The fall issue of The New Orphic Review, of which he is editor-in-chief, was published in early October. 

Nancy Mattson has two new books out, Finns and Amazons and Lines from Karelia. You can read about them at the publisher’s website here: and here:
Nancy also has a website with information about both books, including links to online reviews of Finns and Amazons :
Lauri Anderson lectured on Finnish-American literature and read from his own work at a Roads Scholar meeting at the Finnish-American Heritage Center at Finlandia University on Sept. 26-27.  The following week he was a guest writer at Iowa Wesleyan University in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.  He visited four different classes and at a forum spoke to the entire campus community about his writing.  He spent one day with a blind Nigerian Communications professor and ate a Nigerian feast.  Another day he met a "hippie professor" (in his words) who had a PhD in literature but who had never graduated with a Bachelor's Degree.  The guy spoke eight languages fluently, including Basque.  Lauri just completed his ninth book, which will be published in the spring or early summer, in time for FinnFest at Finlandia in Hancock, Michigan in June. 
Life is an Amazing Song is an enchanting book about Finland and Sweden during and after the Russian war. It is a wonderful memoir of a young boy's life until he arrives in America at age 17. The book has earned 5-star ratings in several newspaper reviews. The South Boston paper wrote that "the book is much better written than a typical memoir." It is a perfect gift for the Holiday season and will be treasured by family and friends.  Happy holidays from the author, John (Juha) Raikkonen. The book’s website is here: 
Rough Beast
Albert Vetere Lannon
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
--W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming     
the center cannot hold                                                                       
                        cannot hold, the center                                  
cannot hold                             mere                                       
            anarchy is loosed, on the loose
and what rough beast, red-eyed and slavering
slouches           crawls              marches
to be born?
I saw the beast in San Francisco a half-century ago
            nightsticks       and fire hoses
I saw the beast in Birmingham a generation ago
and in Vietnam           in Laos                        Cambodia
I saw the beast last year          and the year before that
and before that            in Iraq              Afghanistan
I saw the beast yesterday in Phoenix when the governor
            signed in blood           fangs dripping red
I saw the beast along the border         ravenous          thirsty
            seeking the blood and meat of children
I saw the beast on television               laughing
            ranting             screaming        praying
I saw the beast in Berlin         Moscow          Washington
            Waco               Wounded Knee           Bisbee
I saw the beast                        in Tiananmen Square               Lidice
            Dallas              Memphis         L.A.     Golgotha
I saw the beast in skins of silver         brown              black
            scalps and tea bags      hanging from a crucifix          
I saw the beast                        in your eyes     and in my own           
            red-eyed and slavering            staring at me
                        in Zucotti Park, in Oakland
the center cannot hold
                        cannot hold, the center
cannot hold                             mere
            anarchy is loosed, on the loose
and that rough beast, red-eyed and slavering
slouches           crawls              marches
in jackboots
being born       again.
“Rough Beast” took first prize in poetry at the Society of Southwestern Authors 2011 competition.  Albert Vetere Lannon will be organizing a Group Poem in the Finnish tradition at the opening reception of FinnFest 2012 in Tucson.
Writer's Block
Lauri Anderson
He put off writing his next book for so long that the characters died of old age and neglect before he started.  Then in the first sentence he himself died in mid-                 
Trust in Your Experience (but refill the prescription anyway)
Jim Heikkinen (09-27-2012)
Pull down the bill of gray Nike baseball cap
Greasy sunlight
Eyes on walking
 (Am I getting arthritis in my foot like the doctor promised I would in 1986?)
While transversing a median,  
head strikes the steel crossbeam
Of a highway sign that wasn’t there two day ago
                                                think; thought; have thunk
Suicidal, again,
Drunk, again,
 a sun-bleached woman takes a running leap
Off a mountainside, 
Falls, falls, falls
Before landing in a bush
20 meters below.
What are dead cockroaches
Doing scattered across this bricked over shoreline?
A green ball bobs lazily on low tidewaters
Plastic jellyfish cling to partially exposed rocks
this Arabian Gulf 
            A few months later
            Semi-recovered, again,
            The woman passes by the same cliff edge spot
            And sees only a single bush below
This frame is empty
This sign unfinished
Lisbeth Holt
There’s winter in my soul of late
I try to brush the snowflakes aside
Yet as I gingerly step over the permafrost,
I fear this winter is here to stay:
There may not ever be another spring for me.
 I peer through thickening cobwebs
Or are they strings of sleet, arrows of fate,
Wisps of wind streaking by?
My unsteady gait as I hesitate
Takes me ever northward.
Should I, dare I, will I somehow embrace
This solitary walk into the Unknown?
I try to calm my heartbeats
Hammering tinnily in my chest
I apply makeup to my pallid face
I smile like a mannequin in my mirror
And fail to pretend nothing has changed.
This should be a song of gratitude
I have no right to cry,
 To gnash my teeth in silent fury.
I’ve had the perfumed splendor,
The babies soft and tender
I’ve been able to sweeten others’ lives
I’ve voyaged far and wide
Through star-filled skies
When one has done it all,
The snowdrifts tall and deep
Envelop the mortal flesh;
The immortal soul flown: a bird of paradise!
Song of Equilibrium
--after Lars Gustafson
Stephen Kuusisto

I often walk about saying I’m in equilibrium, saying that everything balances,
and I have a little song on my lips, and though its imperfect
it is mine--a forest ditty with words from the age of home made harps.
Of my singing I can say very little, it’s a quiet means of standing
and in this I am not joking. I whisper and murmur
hold and guess, pause at windows
trying a song of penitence before glass.
If there was more to my life I would say so.
I wake in the morning, sleep at night, my song unvarying.
When neighbors come they do not hear my singing,
but I’m working toward peace, softest words on my tongue,
in equilibrium, letting the sadnesses drift
and only I and the dogs can hear them. 
A poem by Sirpa T. Kaukinen from her soon-to-be-published  
poetry book Greetings from Canada – Terveisiä Kanadasta

Sirpa Kaukinen

A long time ago, at the Finn Hall, you asked me to dance.
I was unsure, but you taught me to polka, waltz and tango,
And I showed you how to rock ‘n’ roll.
We danced through our lives,
You leading, me following,
Me talking, you listening.
We are dancing still, now slower,
But we’ll dance together to the end.


            Sirpa Kaukinen

            Kauan aikaa sitten, Suomalaisella Haalilla,
Pyysit minua tanssiin.
Olin epävarma, mutta sinä opetit minulle polkan,
Valssin ja tangon, ja minä sinulle rock ‘n’roll.
Tanssimme läpi elämämme,
Sinä vieden, minä seuraten,
Minä puhuen, sinä kuunnellen.
Tanssimme vieläkin, nyt hitaammin,
Mutta tanssimme yhdessä loppuun asti.

New Book of Poems and Watercolors out by Finnish Poet and Artist:

Watercolours and poems from Lapland and landscapes by Kari Holma
Akvarelleja ja runoja Lapista ja vaaramaisemista

Kari Holma, photograph used with permission

Nauttia panoraamasta
  kallion kielekkeellä,
     niin laajasta,
etten voi enää kosketella sitä
To enjoy panorama,
  so huge,
    upon the jutting rock,
you can’t even touch it

Watercolor by Kari Holma, used with permission


Towards the Autumn
Kari Holma
Colours fall from the height,
as light as the leaves of the autumn
to float on the waves of the lake.
The straight backs of birches
bow down to pick up,
the first snow always surprises
a wanderer of the fell.
Shadows quickly shorten,
clouds fly like years.
To our darkness we obtain
last rays of the light,
springs of the fell brooks.
The colours of the autumn
are deep-rooted.
Syksyä Kohden
Kari Holma
Värit putoavat korkealta,
keveinä syksyn lehdet
järven laineille kellumaan
Koivujen suorat selät,
kumartuen poimimaan,
ensilumi yllättää aina
tunturin vaeltajan
Varjot lyhenevät nopeasti,
pilvet kiitäen
kuin vuodet
Kaamokseen ammennamme
valon viime säteistä,
tunturipuron lähteistä
Syksyn värit
syöpyneet sisimpäämme


M. L. King
Changjiang Delta


My son’s tractor trailer truck, rolling toward
a turnpike, spouts a plume of burned fossils.
Across the street a withered barn seems still,
but a slight screech stops me in the driveway.
I trudge on, but stop again when longer
creaks reach my ears. While I watch no cars pass.
I hear more groans before the structure lists
slightly to the right. Then, pulled by timbers
weighted with warped boards and split shingles, nails
weak with age relinquish their holds; their screams
yield to a whoosh as the descent quickens,
crescendoes to the ground, which hurls up clouds
of dust, hovering sullen, stubborn to
reveal a hayfield felled beside streams past.
Stricken with Alzheimer’s, my father tugs
down a living room blind. My daughters run
outside to stare at the ruin that’s done.

Manchurian Advance
M. L. King
Changjiang Delta

I place a 10 Yuan Hendrix
CD into my portable stereo
and kick off my Li Ning sneakers.
Sitting in a pivoting pleather chair,
I lean back and let the plastic
castors roll on the hardwood floor.

Electric rhythm and blues invade.
Seattle’s sonic son leads.
Experience fires artistic artillery.
Rocketing bass riffs advance
with rampant regiments of drum rolls.

From a summer of ’69 stage, Jimi

throws flames of feedback, which sizzle
through Marshall Amp sentries, scorch
across time, and torch the autumn
of ‘07 Harbin apartment’s air.

Sun lights the tasseled tan
curtains behind the computer screen.
Bellbottom blue jeans dry
on the balcony. Outside, concrete dormitories
stained with coal ash form
ranks around iron statues.



Connections to the Past

Diane Dettmann

Perched on a boulder by the shore of Lake Superior, childhood memories rumble through my mind. The fragments of rocks below my feet carry the scent of moist sand—a memory of a nursery school sandbox so long ago. I remember a room filled with children’s laughter, the sound of wooden puzzle pieces clicking on the table, and an old man shuffling across the warped wooden floor as his cigar smoke lingered in the air.

The great lake’s moist touch triggers images of sunny afternoons adrift on Long Lake in New Brighton, Minnesota with my father at the oars of a wooden boat built by my Grandpa Kaurala’s skillful hands. Hours passed with my father and I cradled in the rowboat, the lake disturbed only by the gentle breeze that carried swimmers’ laughter along the water’s surface.

I remember clutching a fishing rod in my hands. As I stared at the red and white bobber, I hoped a sunfish would cut through the water’s surface. In the still summer heat, dragonflies swirled around my head, their wings echoing words of favorite bedtime stories blended with my mother’s voice reciting the Lord's Prayer. My mother, father and those who came before them are gone and so is my childhood. All that remains is an album of black and white photos and the memories I carry in my heart.

The Kaurala Family

(Front Left-Right:) Hilja Lukkarila Kaurala, Paul Kaurala, Miriam Dloniak Kaurala, Ora Folt Kaurala Back: Lauri Kaurala, Paul Kaurala Esther Elleson Kaurala and Elsie Sarkela Kaurala)

Diane Dettmann’s the author of Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal and Miriam Daughter of Finnish Immigrants. She has shared her writing at local author events, festivals and international conferences in Finland and Canada. Diane’s website:



FinNALA Newsletter Editorial Team:

Beth L. Virtanen

Sirpa T. Kaukinen

G. K. Wuori.