Friday, May 31, 2013

FinNALA Newsletter June 1, 2013, Volume 6, Number 2


FinNALA Newsletter

June 2013, Volume 6, Number 2
Publication of the Finnish North American Literature Association
© June 1, 2013

Renew Your Membership for 2013

Continue your connections & support FinNALA: renew your membership at our website at Membership is $20.00 for 2013. You can renew by mail by sending your check or money order made payable to “FinNALA” to Beth Virtanen, President, FinNALA, P.O. Box 11, New Blaine AR 72851, or renew by PayPal by visiting




FinnFest USA 2013

June 19-23





FinNALA Members and Friends Presenting

 FinnFest USA 2013

Thursday, June 20

Scott Kaukonen—Lecture
“A Little More Finland: Finnish Crime Novels in Translation”
11:00 a.m. MTU Fisher 126

Lauri Anderson—Instructor
“Chronicling Finnish-American Lives from Moosehead to Misery Bay”
11:00 a.m. MTU Fisher 133
“Writing Memoirs with Lauri Anderson”
1:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 127

Kelly Nelson—Lecture
“Writing Poems from you Family History”
12:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 101

Steve Lehto—Lecture
“The Italian Hall Disaster: What we Know 100 Years Later”
12:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 325

Arnold R. Alanen—Lecture
“Making of ‘Finns in Minnesota”
12:00 p.m. DOW 642

Sheila Packa—Lecture
“Poetry Writing: dancing with the Past”
2:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 132

Josef Aukee--Poetry Reading
2:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 139

Jouni Korkiasaari—Lecture
“Genealogist in the Footsteps of Finnish Immigrants”
3:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 127

Beth Virtanen—Lecture
“A Poet’s Perspective on Her Work: Reflections on and a Reading from Guarding Passage”
3:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 101

Börje Vähämäki—Lecture
“What Everyone Should Know About the Kalevala"
3:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 138

Friday, June 21
Panel discussion:
"Promoting Finnish and Finnish-American Literature in North America."
Participants of the panel are Richard Impola, Scott Kaukonen, Jarkko Sipilä, Jouko Sipilä, Beth Virtanen, Börje Vähämäki, and G.K. Wuori (Helena Halmari facilitator).
10:00 a.m. MTU Fisher 125
Panelists will give a brief (up to 5-10 minutes) introduction of how Finnish and/or Finnish American literature and culture are promoted in their areas. Successes and possible challenges will be addressed, and the discussion will then be opened to the audience. Audience questions will be addressed, and topics will be elaborated on. We hope to see plenty of audience participation.
 10:00 a.m. MTU Fisher 125

Lillian Lehto—Reading
“The Copper Country Strike of 1913”
12:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 325

Arnold R. Alanen—Lecture
“Finnish rural Buildings and Landscapes in Michigan’s U.P.”
1:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 138

Jane Piirto—Lecture
“The Finnishness of my Americanness Redux
2:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 126

Börje Vähämäki—Lecture
“The Kalevala and Worldview”
2:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 130

Jouni Korkiasaari--Lecture
“Finnish American Hall of Fame”
2:00 p.m. MTU Fisher125

Ismo Söderling—Lecture
“Finland and Its Demographic Future to 2050”
2:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 127
Saturday, June 22

FinNALA Board Meeting
10:00 a.m. MTU Fisher 131

Karen Johnson—Lecture
“Picturing the Past: Finlandia University, 1896 to the Present”
10:00 a.m. MTU Fisher 127

Ismo Söderling—Lecture
“The Institute of Migration and Its Collections”
10:00 a.m. MTU Fisher 127

Marlene Wisuri--Lecture
"Sharing You Family History"
10:00 a.m. MTU Fisher 113

Marianne Wargelin—Lecture
“The Hymn Tradition of Finland and Finnish American
11:00 a.m. MTU Fisher 101

FinNALA Public Meeting-Open Membership Meeting
11:00 a.m. MTU Fisher 133
Ismo Söderling—Lecture
“Finnish Milestones in Emigration to South and North America”
11:00 a.m. MTU Fisher 125

Marlene Wisure, Faith Fjeld, and Cari Mayo--Presentation and Panel Discussion
"The North American Sami Reawakening from FinnFest 92 to FinnFest 12"
12:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 127

Gary V. Anderson—Lecture and Poetry
“Five Steps to Successful Family Memoirs: How to Get started” 1:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 101.
Poetry: Reading from My Finnish Soul and Bunchgrass and Buttercups
2:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 101

Steve Lehto—Lecture
“The Italian Hall Disaster: What we Know 100 Years Later”
2:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 138

Jouni Korkiasaari—Lecture
“Finnish American Landmarks”
2:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 125

Börje Vähämäki—Lecture
“Shamans in the Kalevala”
3:00 p.m. MTU Fisher 138

G. K. Wuori—Fiction Reading
"The Meaning of Life Revealed”
3:00 MTU Fisher 101

Joyce Koskenmaki—Art Exhibiter

Joyce will be having a show of her new work at the Community Arts Center in Hancock for the entire month of June. Joyce’s reception will be Saturday, June 22nd from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. All galleries in Calumet and Hancock, as well as at the Rozsa Center on the campus of Michigan Technological University will feature work by Finnish artists, both local and international.

Photographic Exhibit
“Rural Reflections: Finnish buildings in the copper Country”
Photos by Ryan Holt, Text by Arnold R. Alanen
Carnegie Museum, Houghton



Authors – Sell Your Book(s) at FinnFest 2013!

If want to make your book(s) available at FinnFest 2013 (June 19 to 23) in Houghton/Hancock, Michigan, then FinNALA has a great opportunity for you.
For a modest $20.00 (U.S.) fee, FinNALA will:  1.  display your book on its table in the Tori for the duration of FinnFest; 2.  keep a small reserve supply to replace sold books; 3.  keep an accounting of all books sold so that sale monies can be given to each participating author; 4.  keep you from having to pay the $300 fee to rent and staff your own sale table; and 5.  staff the FinNALA table during all regular Tori hours of the FinnFest.
We think this will be a great opportunity for our authors to gain exposure and to make some money, whether they can attend or not. If you’re interested and will be present at FinnFest, please contact me as soon as possible at bethlvirtanen at  
If you are unable to attend FinnFest and wish for your  books to be sold at the FinNALA table, please contact me at the email address above. Also, no more than seven (7) days before FinnFestUSA2013 (no earlier than June 12), mail no more than ten copies of each book you wish to make available at the FinNALA booth in a USPS priority mailer to the following address: FinnFest Tori Vendor, Student Development Complex –­ MTU, 101 MacInnes Dr., Houghton,  MI 49931. Mark your box clearly: Finnish-North American Literature Association.
Enclose with your books, a check or money order for $20 made payable to “FinNALA” for the display costs and a self-addressed stamped envelope in order to receive proceeds from your book sales.

NOTE: FinNALA will not pay postage for the return of unsold books, so you should be sure to make arrangements with Beth (bethlvirtanen at for return postage for unsold items. Unsold books for which no return postage arrangements have been made will be discarded by July 14, 2013—be sure to make arrangements.

Volunteers Needed!

Volunteers are needed to staff the FinNALA table in the Tori for FinnFest 2013.  If you can give us an hour or two just once or, hopefully, several shifts of an hour or two it would be greatly appreciated.  Responsibilities include telling people what FinNALA’s all about, keeping track of books displayed and sold at our table, being really nice and meeting just a whole bunch of people and possibly running into someone you haven’t seen in years.  If you can give us some help on this please contact Beth at blvirtanen at gmail dot com.  We’ll work out the schedule.  Thanks!!



Kippis! Contest Winners Announced
Our fifth annual Kippis! literary contest brought forth exciting entries ranging from the beautiful to the bizarre, with all of them providing fascinating reading for the judges.  Worth noting, too, was the broad range of experience of our entrants – a few emerging and even unpublished writers, and a few with long lists of publishing credits. 
Kelly Nelson’s two poems, “First Trip As A Widow,” and “Blood Loss,” brought her into the winners circle with a first-place award.  Coming in second was Gary V. Anderson’s poem, “Ruoantähteet.” Rounding out the group was Marlene Mattila Stoehr with her short story, “The Bells Of Karstula.” 
The work of these winners as well as other contest and non-contest submitters will be available in June both in print and on the Kippis! website.
The editors wish to extend a sincere thanks to all those who entered the contest as well as those who sent in regular submissions.  We depend on your work and hope that the home we provide for it is worthy of your efforts.

Beth Virtanen & G. K. Wuori


An Important Date

By Sirpa T. Kaukinen

This spring we are marking a most important anniversary date for all Finns and Swedes and their descendants living in North America.  It was 375 years ago that a small group of Swedes and Finns (Finland was then a Duchy of Sweden) first arrived at the mouth of the Delaware River in early 1638.  It had taken three months for these twenty-six individuals to sail, first to Holland, and then journey across the rough and wintry Atlantic Ocean in a small sailing vessel called Kalmar Nyckel.  A leader for this crossing was Dutchman Peter Minuit.1
This May a replica of the original Kalmar Nyckel arrived at the Fort Christina Park (named after the then child-queen Christina of Sweden) in the city of Wilmington, USA.  Aboard were the Swedish King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia, as well as speaker of the Finnish Parliament Eero Heinäluoma and Mrs. Heinäluoma.2.
The Finns of the early 1600’s were used to living in forests and cutting trees into logs and using these logs to build homes, some of which remain to this day, and which eventually became to be known as the American log cabin.3 
            Finns travelled to the New World throughout the 1800 and 1900’s and it is estimated that some 750,000 Finnish immigrants and their descendents now live in the United States.4  

Sources – 1 & 3 - Engle, Eloise.  Finns in North America, Leeward Publications, Inc.  1975.
2 & 4 - Niskakangas, Tuomas – Wilmington, USA – 375 Vuotta Amerikassa375 Years in America, article in Helsingin Sanomat, Ulkomaat, May 13, 2013. 


Sirpa Kaukinen named Assistant Editor

to FinNALA Newsletter


Sirpa Kaukinen, our assistant editor, lives in Ontario, Canada.  She was educated in both Finland and Canada, and received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from York University in Toronto.  She worked for 23 years at the Toronto Hospital where her work centered on writing and producing small publications and public relations documents.  Sirpa writes in English and Finnish languages.  She is the winner of several short story writing competitions including a first place winner of the first issue of Kippis with a short story – No Place for a Woman – and a second place winner of a North American short story competition which stories were collected into a book - Lännen Kultaan Kurkottamassa - Searching for the Western Gold - and published by Werner Söderström OY in Finland.  Sirpa says she enjoys reading and editing the immigrant experience poetry and stories published in the
FinNALA Newsletter and the literary journal, Kippis!
She says it’s interesting to note how strong the north south family connections of the Finnish immigrants who travelled to the USA prior to 1924 and to Canada thereafter remain to this day. 



Ernest Hekkanen and Margrith Schraner have recently finished publishing Vol. 16, No. 1 of The New Orphic Review, the theme of which is “Addicted to Story.” Hekkanen’s painting, A Time for Assassins, graces the cover. A Sweet Sixteen Anniversary Celebration was held for their magazine on May 17 at the Oxygen Art Centre in Nelson, British Columbia.



Steve Lehto’s book, Death’s Door: The Truth Behind the Italian Hall Disaster and the Strike of 1913, will be released mid-June as a second edition. It will be available for sale at FinnFest 2013. 




Creative Contributions

Prose and Poetry
by Eero Sorila

Remembrance of Mother

Like a beautiful rose, your life was on this earth
The golden nib of your pen consoled many who were hurt.

One day a shadow of death from the rose was cast
The writing came to a halt and the life of a poetess was past.

The last strokes of your pen revealed a thankful heart
 In sorrow I was happy, for in me you remain a precious part 

Jewels of Finland

As the first born to my parents in the city of Jyväskylä Finland, it was very exciting for me to run away from home almost as soon as I was able to walk. I had a good home and loving parents but the excitement of adventure was too much for me to resist. Even if my escapades were limited to a few city blocks, I felt like a world explorer.
     To travel 225 km ( 140 mi )  mostly by train to the family summer cottage in Tuusniemi was nothing short of euphoria. Looking out from the train window the pristine landscapes with birch trees and lakes formed a gliding panorama. It was the best movie of my life.   
     Already with my grandparents it had been a family tradition to stop in the city of Kuopio to buy provisions for the time of stay in the cottage.  I will never forget one grocery item. It was about a foot and a half long salami sausage. The high salt content would preserve the salami without the need for refrigeration. There is nothing like a buttered piece of hard tack-näkkileipä crowned with a slice of salami. In culinary terms it is a jewel among many other delightful morcels in the finnish diet.
     As we arrived to the cottage named Koivuranta it was  a new world for me to discover. There was no end to the excitement. The cottage, shed-aitta and the smoke- heat sauna-savusauna were all made in a traditional way from pine logs. Many sauna experts maintain that the soft heat of a  savusauna cannot be matched  by any other heat. I was fortunte to experience that sweet heat at a very young age. 
      The savusauna was only a few steps from the lake named juojärvi which covers 85 sq mi ( 220 sq km ). The water was crystal clear with plenty of fish like perch, pike and roach.


Traditional Rowboat, Soutuvene

As I stood on the steps of the savusauna my eyes could not escape a most beautiful sight. It was my grandfather’s row-boat-soutuvene. In Finland with over 60 thousand lakes the wooden row-boat has been a mode of transportation since time immemorial.
     Master boat builders were highly esteemed species that were proud of their work.
     There are two basic styles of Finnish row-boats: the savolais and hämäläis types. The first one is lower in height and it has a sharper turning radius than the second one. Similar boat styles are used in Karjala-Karelia.
     The boatbuilders would first choose a naturally curved tree from the forest and use it for making the bow. It had to be strong like a trunk of a tree from which the pine boards, like tree branches would be formed to complethe the boat. The exterior was covered with a coat of tar to make the boat water repellent. Tarring of the boat was like a joyful ritual repeated every spring. After a long winter to tar a boat was a sign of  much waited summer.
     Today the master boat builders from the old school are rare to find in Finland. Fortunately traditional row-boat building courses are given in Finnish community colleges. This way the young people will learn to appreciate, perpetuate and enjoy a tradition which has been a vital part of Finland for centuries. Janne Vilkuna a professor in the University of Jyväskylä is one of the top experts in the cultural history of wooden row-boats in Finland. 
     While visiting Finland years ago, to take a trip with my grandfather’s row-boat was something very special. The boat pierced the calm water like a knife made by Iisakki Järvenpää. Even the smell of tar eminating form every board of the boat was better than any perfume.
      Lately aluminum and fiberglass row-boats  have become popular in Finland, but for me there is nothing like a traditional wooden row-boat.
     Much after seeing my grandfather’s row-boat for the first time I traveled widely to find and photograph more of these jewels of Finland.

Eero Sorila has travelled in 140 countries and has selected
30 travel destination of hair raising adventures into a book
GREEN MATTRESS UNDER THE STARS  Toll free: USA. 1-888-795-4274 $19.99


Two Poems

by Kaarina Brooks

Museum Piece

Look! A skimmer!
Haven’t seen one in years.
Not since we were
at Aunt Elsa’s farm in ’49.

Lot at that butter churn!
Just like Aunt Elsa’s!
The cream refused to turn to butter
till she took over the churning.

There’s the whatchamacallit!
Grandpa used one just like that
to slice slats from pine logs
and weave them into baskets.

And aren’t those skis a hoot!
With leather straps
to slip over curly-toe boots.
I had a pair like that.

My God!
I just realized—
my whole life is
in a museum!

 Ghost Arms

“Lots of good wind going to waste!”
That’s what he would have cried,
my greedy sailor, on a day like this,
when the laundry flaps on the line,
like the luffing sails of his boat.

And whipped to life by a strong breeze
the sleeves of a shirt—not his—
fill with air, puff out, and wave wildly,
like ghost arms, still reaching for me
from beyond the grave.


My Yellow Rose

By Fran Wiideman

The sign said, “Yellow Roses 50 cents.” They were thick, full, so yellow in the dimly lit case.
“Why so cheap?”
“They’ve opened too much. They won’t last long anymore.”
“Oh.”  Too full. Not buds anymore.
“I’ll take one.”
She wrapped it up in green paper, stapled it and took my fifty cents plus tax and wished me a nice day. Then I carried my long stemmed yellow rose all the way through the mall and out to the parking lot. Then home.
At home I had to tear that green paper to get my rose out. It lay there full, yellow, and alive. Thick petals curling up and around the stamens in the center. Golden rods hidden in yellow velvet petals. Fragrant. I picked it up to smell the fragrance. Like summertime. Like sunshine. Full, fragrant, fragile. Not really fragile.
I found the little vase, the white one. Ran some water into it. Then put it on the edge of the table and knelt down to measure the rose against it. Up and down I moved the rose. How much should I cut off? About there. It will be twice the height of the vase. Cut it right now, with the knife. Then I pushed it gently into the vase.
The rose stood there, strong, straight, full and yellow. I pushed away the other stuff that cluttered up the table, always that clutter. Books. Papers. Onto the floor. The typewriter too. And the napkin holder. Off to the counter.
There. Just the yellow rose in its vase on the middle of the table. Yellow, like the sun. Warm. Fragrant. My yellow rose for fifty cents.


Prose and Poetry

By W. S. Anderson


The first time I knew fire was, I think, a time before I remember. But I’ve heard the story enough that I do.
I was maybe three or four. My mother was cleaning, as she always did. She had removed the metal grate from our furnace and propped it against a wall in the living room. This grate was like any other you might find covering the floor or wall vents of a house, where heat wafted into rooms. Only it was much bigger than most, as it covered the only opening that heated our entire downstairs. The grate covered a three-by-four-foot hole in the floor where our furnace dropped into a metal encasement, which fitted into the dirt cellar below. Feeding the furnace was a big tank of oil behind our house. Wearing shoes or thick slippers to stand on top of that grate in winter was the best way to get warm, as heat would blow directly onto your legs and bum and entire body. 
This morning Mom meant to snake the vacuum hose around the furnace depths to clean out the soot. I was standing nearby, and she commanded me to “stay put right there.”  She got on her knees. She turned on the vacuum. She looked at me, decided I was safe, and began to concentrate on the task at hand. 
That’s when I decided something else: that this was way too interesting for me to remain a spectator -- and one without even a good view. I moved closer. I crouched. I peered. My body slackened, and the next thing I knew I was headed into the big hole that housed our home’s burning heart. 
Mom was faster. She snatched me by the back of my pajamas just as my hand brushed hot metal. I screamed, and she rushed me to the kitchen and shoved my whole arm under cold water. She put Vaseline on the giant blister that was forming -- folks did, with burns, in those days. 
To this day I have a barely discernible scar on the back of my right hand -- not the mark of the devil, exactly, but the mark of what my mom would come to call “that devilish Wendy Sue.” It became a point of pride for Mom as years went on -- the time her curious little Wendy took a tumble into the furnace, just to see what it was like, and her sainted mother rescued her. 

(From Gone Woods Queer, a memoir-in-progress about growing up in a tiny town of Swedish, Finnish, and French-Canadian immigrants in north-central Maine.)

Holding On

My best friend, Vicki, is in our kitchen
playing dolls. She yanks a sweater
over Tressy’s big head and topples
her Kool-Aid free.

My mother is on her fast.
My God! I just washed that floor an hour ago.
I told you to be careful
with that drink.

My mother talks loud
as head of our Sunday School;
and in the choir she is the fiercest voice.
Just go outside! she shouts suddenly.
This instant! Scoot! Scoot!

Then her voice drops.
Better yet, Vicki, you go back
to your own house.
Let your own mother
clean your messes.
You can’t even be trusted
to play right in other people’s homes.

My mother doesn’t like Vicki’s mom,
who works in a tavern
on the Greenville Road.

She gets in Vicki’s face.
I know you’ll end up
a fat little whore
just like her,
so why don’t you
go on home?

The only sound is the slamming door
and Vicki’s shriek across our yard.
I run down behind the barn
to the garden, to my dad.


The First Summer

By Sirpa T. Kaukinen

My first summer at the boarding house,
Hot water and soap blister my hands.
The cook urges:  “Bring stew to the men.
Do the dishes later whenever you can.”

The kitchen heats to a sauna on a summer day.
I dry my sweaty forehead with a towel astray.
The cook snaps:  “Take the pie to the table.
Wipe your face on something when you’re able.”

Walking home tired in the evening breeze.
Thinking about the distance across the sea.
My aunt sees the teardrops on my face.
“Why the tears?  I washed dishes at the same place.”

Sirpa T. Kaukinen, from the Finnish-Canadian
Poetry Collection: Greetings from Canada.



Flying to Marquette

By Jane Piirto

“Rise from the waters, mistress
with your spirits” Runo 12, Kalevala

Flying to Marquette,
over Lake Michigan,
sunshine burnishing
ripples far below,
it bodes unwelcome,
in far depths of greatness;
and a forlorn and deserted island
beneath a fluff of white,
the golden water gleaming
as if it were not menace
but beckon.



A Finnish Grandfather Remembered

By Diane Dettmann


A box of family pictures
Tucked in a trunk—forgotten.
A musty odor releases
Time gone by.
Embracing the tattered photo,
My grandfather’s hand
Clasps mine.
Grandpa Kaurala’s wrinkled face,
Weathered from wind and toil,
Whispers, “Dinah.”
Memories of
Time together
In the barn,
The carpenter shop,
And distant potato fields
Echo through my soul.
His smile pulls me back
To the Minnesota farm
Cultivated with Finnish hands
And hearts.
Beyond his tattered pants
And the manure stained boots,
His spirit shines
With pride and joy of family,
A Finnish heritage preserved,
And a life in America
Well lived.

My grandfather, Paul Kaurala, was born in Kiuruvesi, Finland on October 1, 1888. He left his childhood home at the age of twenty-five to build a new life in America. He arrived in Montreal, Canada in 1913 with little more than the clothes on his back and his Finnish leather boots on his feet. After spending a year in Montreal as a logger, in late 1914, he left Canada. Working a variety of jobs, he arrived in Ely, Minnesota and eventually found steady employment in the iron ore mines. In 1917, he married my grandmother, Hilja Lukkarila, a young woman from Simo, Finland who he had met on the ship. In 1923, Paul and Hilja moved their growing family to a piece of property in rural Babbitt, Minnesota that Paul Kaurala had purchased several years earlier.
My family spent many summer vacations on my grandparents’ farm in Babbitt, Minnesota in the 1950s. Many years have passed, but the fond memories remain. The following poem is a tribute my grandfather’s strength, courage and Finnish “sisu”.

Read about Diane’s Finnish family in her book, Miriam Daughter of Finnish Immigrants (Dettmann/Dloniak) at <> Also, Diane’s memoir, Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal is available at




By Hazel Lauttamus Birt

2013 is the Chinese Year of the Snake, which reminds me of the nice sunny day my family and I were visiting the cemetery in our home place New Finland, Saskatchewan.
All of a sudden my sister Norma started to scream hysterically. We all rushed over to see what was the matter.
“A snake, a snake!” she cried. “It was at least three feet long and it ran over my bare feet!”
 She had forgotten that we Finns shared our New Finland Cemetery with garter snakes; it was also called “Snake Hill”!
My sister Effie then recalled that when she was a teenager she was visiting old Mrs. Rautio on the farm next to Snake Hill.
Make us some coffee (keitä kahvia) ordered the old woman. Effie went to the stove and started to scream, “snake, Snake!” (Käärme,  Käärme!)
Olle hilja!” (Shut up!) the woman said. “It won’t harm you. In fact I like them, they eat rats and mice and other than drink milk from the pails at milking time they do no harm.”
We’ll be visiting the cemetery again this summer but we’ll be sure to keep our shoes on!

Hazel Lauttamus Birt grew up on her grandparents homestead in New Finland, Saskatchewan. She has written several books on her Finnish heritage illustrated with award winning woodcut prints. She lives in Winnipeg.


Homeless In My Own Country

By Anita Erola
Was I
A lakeside
Nordic summer
Slate steps
Dewey with moss
Adorn the way
To the sauna
By the water
In solitude
By the tranquil lake
Not belonging
Homeless in my own country.
Reflecting on water
Seeking answers
Below the surface
Fish dart
Too small for grandmother’s soup
With potatoes and dill
I quietly listen
Hoping for answers
Homeless in my own country.

Taking steps
To the water
For a swim
Across the lake
Aspen trees call
I recollect them
By the window
Their distant welcome
Is not the same
My memories and being
Homeless in my own country.
The sun warms
The water glistens
A family of swans
Brings the answer
In peaceful stride
They glide

Living in peace
And harmony
One with
Their being
How it is
Is what it is
In solitude
I ponder my own being
Homeless in my own country.



Viola Turpeinen

Musician, 1909-1958

By Sheila Packa
The pendulum of the clock swung –
the bodies in motion.
Think of grandmother’s face
when she was young.
The accordions echo time and resistance
inebriate Prohibition
go from straight to syncopation
uneven rhyme. Close your eyes.
The places her toes wore through
dancing shoes gave way
to the rise of smoke in neon haze
silver light on your mic.
Open the clasp on the case
spread the diamond, lift
the bellows, press the chords
open wide this gift.
The hellos of death, nothing can erase
the bloom of birds in paradise.
No words can place the miles you ride
along the coast at sunset.
You played the halls,
emptying your chest.
In the velvet dark, sorrow
holds its breath.
Once you slid into the leather harness
(no voice tomorrow)
hands on the ivories and ebonies
made the stars race in a steeplechase
View the video "Wildwood River" by Sheila Packa and Kathy McTavish


Two Poems

by Michael King


A Pause before Parting

Endowed with the figure of Pallas,
She ponders the grand Summer Palace,
where pavilions applaud as She passes. 
Secured in glass cases,
ancient works of exquisite art
glimmer in the glaze of Her brown eyes’
brilliant rays.  Classic curves
caress Miranda’s gossamer green
dress while gardens grow by Her grace. 
Hand in hand, we climb Longevity Hill
and look out over Kunming Lake from the top. 
Her charming chubby cheeks fill
the opulent imperial chalice before us. 
Below, lotus leaves and blossoms reach
upwards, revel in response to Her resplendence,
which reigns over Yíhé Yuán. 

On a ferry departing from beside
the Cloud-Dispelling Gate,
She sits mulling over the deck. 
Her cheery cheeks have chilled. 
All I can do is kneel at the bow
as Her surrendering frown and somber eyes
obscure the once-blue sky.   

Walking along the West Dyke,
we see a flicker amongst flowers
beneath willows.  A dew-drinking
phoenix flushes, flashes its flames. 
Blushing qilins approach and gently
paw Miranda’s puffy pink
cheeks.  While we rest at a stony beach, 
Her mesmerizing smile returns.  From atop
the Mirror Bridge, Her eyes beam
blessings to drifting dragon boats. 
Evening begins to engulf
the Garden of Nurtured Harmony. 
Towers and temples bow
their arching eaves as we walk
slowly down the Long Corridor. 
Miranda’s gauzy green dress
dances around Her classic contours,
sways beside swirling shadows.


Admiral (Plymouth, England, Winter 1982)

Watch keeps me inside while tugs push
us upriver.  After we dock
I sway on sea legs past RN
sentries and take out fish and chips;
immersed in vinegar, they burn
my tongue.  Along a row of pubs
an old man calls across the street.

Invited to a tiny house,
I meet the missus and we drink
tea.  Photos tell a World War tale.
The admiral talks of history,
asks of storms I’ve weathered.  We pause,
regard our countries legacies
before I’m taken on a tour.

His tiny sedan’s engine raps
and its gears whack as we sail
past traffic and modern sprawl, which
surrounds an old cathedral, missed
by blitz bombs.  At the Barbican,
our journey’s end, the granite steps
read, “Mayflower 1620.”


By Terri Martin

Combining the words “blaze orange” and “camouflage” creates an oxymoron. Camouflage (camo) implies concealment and blaze orange (B.O.), on a clear day, is visible in Canada. Wearing B.O. is nothing but a flagrant disregard of our national security, leaving us vulnerable to attack by Canada. Secret sources indicate the Canadians have been studying the feasibility of invading the U.S. via the U.P. ever since the Mackinac Bridge was built.
            And don’t think, for one minute, that your “turkey hunting camos” are safe, either. It’s just foolhardy to wear that neutral stuff. Take, for example, this heart-wrenching story that comes from Mrs. Philomema Heikkinen of Tapiola.
            “It all started,” she reported to the deputy sheriff, “when I sent my husband Bucky—well his real name’s Bill but everyone calls him Bucky, for short—out to get the paper, which by the way, is delivered to a box about a half mile down the road. He was wearing his camo Carhartts and, well, I—I think that he just blended away into the scenery,” she concluded with a trembling voice.
            The deputy taking her statement nodded his head knowingly and muttered: “Had he been wearing B.O., I’d say the Canadians got him, but since he was neutral, I’m afraid it’s another notch in the tree for the (dramatic pause) Yooper Triangle.
            This made Mrs. Heikkinen gasp and bury he face in her hands and sob: “No! No!”
            A helpful neighbor, Al, who they call Porky for short, along with the deputy conducted a vigilant search but eventually (after about twenty minutes) had to terminate the hunt, so to speak, on account of darkness and also Porky’s wife told him to get in for supper or she was feeding it to the dogs. The search did not resume the next day because Porky said he wanted to get his fishing shanty on the bay before all the good spots were taken.
            The police, every duty-bound, suggested that Mrs. Heikkinen put a fresh pasty out on the porch to see if her husband might get good and hungry and be guided home by the smell. The Heikkinens had been blessed with an excellent rutabaga crop that year and Mrs. H. was able to put numerous odoriferous pasties on her porch for several weeks, all of which disappeared. However, Bucky was never spotted and Mrs. Heikkinen was beginning to run low on rutabagas. Police stepped up their efforts by borrowing a live bear trap (the humane kind) from the DNR and suggested that Mrs. Heikkinen put the pasty bait in the trap. Though this did not result in the “capture” of her husband, she did successfully cage a large, grumpy black bear that had apparently been lured out of hibernation by a warm spell and the wafting aroma of Mrs. Heikkinen’s pasties. Mrs. H said that the bear, named “Bucky 2” was not a whole lot different than having “Bucky 1” around, so she let him (the bear) say “on a trial basis.”
            To make a long story short—well maybe it’s too late for that—but anyway, you fellas can see the risks of wearing camouflage. Yous may wander into the woods and come back to find a bear in your recliner hogging the remote control.


FinNALA Newsletter Editorial Team:

Terri Martin, Editor-in-Chief
Sirpa Kaukinen, Assistant Editor
Beth Virtanen, Publisher

 Thanks to all of you for your contributions!