Wednesday, May 7, 2014

FinNALA Newsletter May 2014 Volume 7, Number 2


FinNALA Newsletter

May 2014, Volume 7, Number 2

Publication of the Finnish North American Literature Association

© May 7, 2014

Subscribe/Renew Your FinNALA Membership

Continue your connections with the literary and scholarly community in Finnish-North-American Literature, and  support FinNALA simultaneously. Renew your membership on line or by mail.

Visit our website at to renew online.

To renew by mail, send $20.00 by check or money order payable to "FinNALA" to

Beth Virtanen, President
P.O. Box 212
L’Anse, MI 49946

Thanks for your continuing membership and support as we near our tenth year as an organization!



Offer your books for sale

at FinnFest 2014 FinNALA Table

FinNALA is planning to have a booth at the tori at FinnFest 2014 in Minneapolis. For a small fee of $25 US, you can have your work for sale there, too. If want to make your book(s) available at FinnFest 2014 (Aug. 7-10) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, then FinNALA has a great opportunity for you.
For a modest $25.00 (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 a record of all books sold & pay each author for sales of their books
       4.  keep you from having to pay the $300 fee to rent and staff your own sale table
       5.  staff the FinNALA 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 the FinNALA president at the email address above so we can make arrangements to make your book available.


Advertise with FinNALA

Feature Your Work, Product or Services in Kippis! The FinnFest 2014 issue.

The Finnish North American Literature Association (FinNALA) is seeking advertisers interested in marketing their merchandise, publications, services, and more to a Finnish-North American literary audience and the community that supports them.

We have advertising space available in Kippis!

Ad rates are modest and support the publication and dissemination of literary work by a multicultural and multinational group of poets and writers.
Advertising rates and sizes are listed below:
One-eight page (business card) $30
One-fourth page $50
One-half page $80
One-page $150

Send your print-ready ad copy and contact information to Beth Virtanen, FinNALA President,
at bethlvirtanen at yahoo dot com.  If you wish the Kippis! team to design your ad, please do email us (bethlvirtanen at yahoo dot com), and we can work together on layout and

Submit payment by PayPal at or send a check payable to "FinNALA" to
Beth Virtanen, President, FinNALA, P.O. Box 212, L'Anse, MI 49946 USA


Request for Literary and
Scholarly Publication Updates!
Hi everyone! 
I am working on research for two projects in which I am engaged. The first is to update the FinNALA bibliography, and the second is for a presentation I have been asked to give regarding the current state of Finnish-American literature and its critical analysis for FinnFest 2014. 

 To that end, I am requesting that all of our active authors, poets and scholars in the Finnish North-American literary and literary scholarship communities share with me a list of their most recent publications, those since 2000, and where they have been placed. I want the updated bibliography to serve as a robust tool by which to record the accomplishments of our collective literary and scholarly output.  In addition, as I present on the latest developments in our broad community, I want to have a sense of the depth and breadth of our considerable work. Your help will ensure that I don’t overlook any aspect of our literary and critical output. 

Please do send a list of your publications to me at bethlvirtanen at With your contributions, I will strive to make a comprehensive update of the bibliography on our website and use it along with other research products within the presentation I will make to the larger cultural community at FinnFest in the Twin Cities this summer.
Thanks so much!

Beth Virtanen, Ph.D.
President, FinNALA



Kippis! is taking submissions for our FinnFest 2014  edition, which take place in early august. There will be a printed and online version of Kippis!. Submissions will be accepted through June 15, so don’t hesitate to polish up those great pieces of work and get them into us. Surprisingly, we are running a little lean on poetry, so keep that in mind. Submissions of fiction, nonfiction, essay and other prose are being sought as well. We can’t guarantee fame and fortune but, if your work is accepted, you will be read by a thoughtful and sympathetic audience. 
Send submissions to gkwuori at hotmail dot com. Please request submission guidelines if you are not familiar with them.


16th annual Sibelius Academy Music Festival

Finlandia University will be sponsoring its sixteenth consecutive music festival featuring extraordinary musicians from the famed Sibelius Music Academy of Helsinki, Finland.
This year’s festival will take place from September 21-26, with concerts in Chicago, Houghton/Hancock and Calumet, Michigan.
Pianist Kristina Annamukhamedova will present a classical repertoire including Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin and Sibelius. A cappella female vocal group, Ensemble Norma, will perform cutting-edge music, which straddles folk, pop and jazz.
For more information, please visit the Finlandia University website at

     Classical Pianist, Kristina Annamukhamedova

                                                              Vocalists, Ensemble Norma




By Waino W. Korpela



Excerpts of book review of Finn, by Jane Lepisto Published initially in the Finnish American Reporter-October 2013.
            Editor Ernest Korpela describes the book “Finn” as a “collection of writings by Waino W. Korpela which embodies a host of perceptions of his father’s native land-its people, its history, its culture, its struggle for self-determination, its sisu, and its perspective on life.
            He has lovingly and painstakingly collected his late brother’s works into this book . . . The readings evoked memories of their family, home, sauna, electric fence, camp in the woods, Model-A pick up, long school bus rides and times we shared visiting one another’s kitchens . . .He has used that legacy to weave the history of his father’s native land and perseverance of its people into a tapestry which depicts the Finns’ heritage of sisu. 

            Submitted by Ernest Korpela with the permission of Jane Lepisto and the Finnish American Reporter.  Copies of “Finn” can be obtained from Ernest Korpela at (715) 742-3349 or by emailing him at:  Korpela at


The New Orphic Review 

Ernest Hekkanen and Margrith Schraner have just finished publishing the Spring issue of The New Orphic Review, entitled “e-Hobbyists in the Land of e-Literature”. It contains work by writers from New York, Kentucky, Maine, Colorado and British Columbia.
For more information contact hekkanen at telus dot net


Night Train Red Dust
Poems from the Iron Range

By Sheila Packa


Book review by Leah Rogne, PhD
Professor, Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN

Sheila Packa’s poetry is at once deeply personal and widely universal in its evocative exploration of fundamental human experience. Using the red ore dust with which she was raised, she paints vivid images of birth and death, work and struggle, hope and despair. Packa captures the unrest of immigrants leaving their homes in Finland and the unrest of the bitter labor union conflicts of the early days of twentieth century on the Iron Range of northeastern Minnesota. At the same as she chronicles events from the broad sweep of history as the country extracted iron ore from the ground and labor from the immigrants, she shares tender stories from daily life, using the micro-lens of her personal experience
Especially arresting is the way Packa weaves into her book material from historical sources, including newspaper accounts of the union organizing efforts of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and reports on the gritty work of physicians who tended to the medical needs of the miners and their families in the early days. Women —whether in the mines or on hardscrabble farms — are equal players in Packa’s Iron Range, a refreshing treatment of a region often seen as differentially the province of the male. From the story of men and women fighting for their survival and dignity in the days of industrialization to the image of a fragile grouse in the gunsights of a hunter contemplating its mortality, Packa captures the beauty and the contradictions of the place and times that have made the Iron Range iconic in history.

Sheila Packa. Night Train Red Dust: Poems of the Iron Range. (Wildwood River Press / distributed through Ingram). ISBN: 978-0-9843777-7-0.  The book’s website is here: and its Twitter account is @nighttrainred


Creative Contributions

Prose, Poetry, & Memoir

A Father’s Day Tribute
By Diane Dettman

in memory of her father, Harold Elleson, who passed away in June, 1987 at the age of sixty-eight. 

My father was the oldest child and only son in his family. He became a survivor at the age of nineteen when his father, a locomotive fireman for the Omaha railroad, was killed in a train accident on August 6, 1937. With the tragic loss of his father, my dad became the primary provider for his mother and two younger sisters. The railroad company compensated the family by guaranteeing him a permanent job with the railroad. After he completed his machinist apprenticeship, he began repairing locomotives on the Chicago Northwestern railroad in a dingy roundhouse in Minneapolis, Minnesota— not exactly his “dream job.”
In 1944, a justice of the peace united my parents in holy matrimony and in 1945 my brother Tom was born. A couple years later, I arrived early when my mother—startled by a bird—fell and broke her leg. Tucked in an incubator at the hospital and my mother at home with her leg in a cast, I depended on my father’s “milk deliveries” to sustain me.
I know those daily visits bonded us. As I grew older, I loved snuggling into his lap as he read the Little Golden Books to me at bedtime. When he arrived home from the work in the afternoons, he often gave me a gentle whisker rub and let me eat the cookies left over in his lunch box.
Dad wasn’t much of a travelin’ man. Our summer vacations often consisted of trips to my Finnish grandparents’ farm in Babbitt, Minnesota during haying season. In 1955, we took our one and only family summer road trip to Alhambra, California to visit my dad’s mother. With the windows rolled down, my older brother and I sat in the back seat of the Plymouth fighting as the “Burma Shave” signs flew by. The trip seemed endless with the rumble of the wind whipping past the windows, the country western twang crackling on the radio and my nine month-old brother fussing in the front seat. My father was happy when we finally arrived in Alhambra—well, at least for a while.
His excitement for California waned quickly. Fed up with the Los Angeles traffic and endless visits with distant relatives,  Dad’s patience maxed out. Early one morning he packed us back in the car and drove all night through the desert. After spending several nights in cheap motels, we arrived back in Minnesota.
My dad was an “every day guy” dedicated to his family, a wonderful provider and a loving man. When I married my husband  John in 1972, my father walked me down the aisle with a very serious look on his face. At the reception John turned to my father and said, “I’ll take good care of her.”
My dad answered, “You better”. Then he smiled and winked at me. I thought that’s my dad!

Diane Dettmann’s the author of Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal, her story of starting over after the sudden death of her loving husband. She’s also the coauthor of Miriam Daughter of Finnish Immigrants, about Finnish grandparents, Paul and Hilja Kaurala raising seven children in Embarrass, Minnesota in the 1920s. She is a contributing author for the Women’s Voices for Change website and has presented her books at various venues including international conferences in Finland and Canada. Information on Diane Dettmann’s website:


Ghost Riders of Elysium

(from “Lightning Ride: a Descent by Bicycle)

By Michael King

Entering and sprinting over the meadows of Elysium on my trophy-taking mount, Greek and Trojan heroes hover on opposite banks of Lethe.  The tonic of oblivion tempts, and they indulge.
While the downpour steams, the phantom of Rampant Redline Ray, the fastest cruiser pilot that I ever knew, whips alongside me on a burnished ruby sled.  Another ghostly rider, on a polished pearl sleigh, follows Ray’s wheels closely. 
“Who are we chasing across these fields we must haunt forever?” the second shade asks Ray.  They pull ahead and block us in a blur; Custom Cruiser heeds.
“It’s Rhyming Rider,” Red answers. “I knew from the sight of the Pouch of Pallas slinging from the shoulders of a Schwinn rider,” he sighs. “Besides, what other initiate of our sport would dive into the depths of damnation, and what other driver would dare the temptation of our Dreary Lethe.” 
“Pedaling Poet, to what end have you come? To ride the trails of oblivion as we do? Trust me, no trails here below match the majesty of the trails of life above. Linger no longer than to tell us of the racing up there,” says First-Turn-First Phil, whom I suddenly recognize. 
“Let me loiter long enough to learn from you, my loyal teammates, some tournament-tested techniques, so with them I may bring you triumph under the sun,” I plead.  As I attempt an embrace, shoulders of nothingness fly from my grasp.  “My friends, why do you slip away?” I ask. “Let me touch your sweating sinews once before I return to the above,” I beg.
My friends answer together, “We have no fibers, and we no longer sweat, though our tournaments never end as we chase untouchable trophies here in our hazy internment camp. So, tell us, who is champion now?”
“You are the only champions I know. Certainly, my mentors, you have won eternal fame for your exploits,” I reply, chilled.
 “Better to be a novice above than a champion below,” they say together.  “We did not ride well enough, we suppose, as we now ride only the fading tracks in our failing imaginations. So, our comrade on wheels, complete whatever mission it is you have embarked upon by racing over those far crags you see to the south of the headwaters of forgetfulness.”
“Surely, one lap around these fields can do no harm. Let’s race once around in remembrance,” I protest.
“One lap and you will be thirsty; one sip of Lethe and you will be lost, like us. The trail you must follow to rejoice again in the light of Day will be test enough of your mettle. Rhyming Rider, race away.”  At that they retreat, listless on their shadowy mounts, behind the veil of violently pounding rain.

Two Poems by Michael King

 Schoodic Lake Sunrise

At late fall’s dawn I’m set up on a boulder on
the bank, before camp’s picture window.  Purple and
vermillion stretch above the eastern skyline, tips
of trees obscured by mist that sets upon the lake. 
Stubborn undulations meet rocks, spray ice.  One loon’s
wail haunts as orange glows sneak upward.  Contrasted
on grey waves they coat, evergreens contend with browns.
Then the sun climbs up, pours its bronze and gold onto
the surface, where a beam of ivory reaches out 
to me, beneath a hardwood’s bare possessive limbs.   
While shutter clicks record the scene, breakfast scents creep
over brush and rise with cinders left by last night’s blaze. 


The color of candy-red lips, she drips
Raw torque.  Blown V8 muscle claws and rips
Rubber into any surface we meet
On the unpredictable path called street.
No Ford or Dodge can catch her stinging rays.
I shift her gears and the gas pedal stays
Pinned to the floor as we blaze down the road. 
She slides through a sweeper and we explode
Onto a straightaway.  Trees look like sticks—
Doin’ one-thirty-five gives me a fix.
I love to fly in her fiberglass shell. 
The engine whines as we Hot Rod to Hell.
We outrun all in a mad power surge,
Until screaming steel and flames kill the urge.


A Last Eve in Nepal’s Eden

By Russell Jokela
(1998 Journal Excerpt)

As I write these lines now I sit on a riverbank before the close of a most perfect and beautiful evening.  The sun has set – a fiery orb beyond an African savannah it seems.  The sky darkens and we’ve just returned from our final outing: observing birds, poling on the great Crocodile River, and watching the sun descend beyond its Himalayan valley.  All the jungle loses color now and turns silhouette.  We hear river fowl call and clack, the air quiets, and the river’s trundle turns distinctly melodious.  The wilds seem more peaceful in the dark, soothing the solemn mood of this final evening.  Dare we say goodbye?  “Good evening last light that slips from this page, allowing these thoughts and feelings, and leaves us alone again!”  We shall not know this day again, except that it repeats itself in the fruition of tomorrow; a reincarnation of endless spells carried out on the landscape of eternity.
As all remnants of light disappear, we take candle-lit showers in thatched huts, eat with others in the dinner rotunda, and thereafter retire with forest guides and camp staff to the open-air fireside.  We kept rhythm to a sweet old guitar, told stories of the forest, of the day, the animals we encountered, and some we didn’t.  The stars were as numerous as the myriad leaves overhead, through which our silent moments rose with the sparks and wisps of the fire.  Perhaps only my eyes traced their movements, up through the thicket of nodding leaves to the stars there, and made out Orion.  His scabbard is a kind of map, for reasons only the ancient Egyptians knew, to lay out the pyramids at Giza.  It is a mystery that leads me from my companions.  Nature is full of these mysteries, as we came to reflect upon again, out here in the jungles of Nepal.
How little we know and how much we’ve forgotten, removing ourselves, as we have, from the wilds is another mystery in itself.  Our lives now are a scratching of the surface.  The things we know, and the things we attend to, often being too complicated, are beside the point.
The stories of the stars, the stories of the animals, of the forest, of rivers, the stories of time, and of great mountains, are written on the palms of our hands, in the beat of our hearts, in the instant you hold your breath and observe nothing but the wealth of the moment.  We are rich beyond measure, of a wealth that does not burden, and needs no accountant.  It is a wealth the self-same as air, which all alike have equal share.
Driving off through the open plains in the morning, the jungle now behind us, I realized what the wilds give to us that we cannot leave behind.


The Horsefly and Jade Spider
By Russell Jokela
(at Kuwadori, July 2000)
On my first day of cleaning and preparing the old thatched-roof house for our Meister School meeting in August, as I was organizing the trash in the ‘doma,’ or entryway, my ear was caught by the sound of a madly buzzing insect near a small overhead window.  I believe it caught my attention because it was fairly loud and incessant, and therefore that of a large fly or bee, as opposed to a less notable small bug or housefly.  Another point which caught my attention and had me look was that it seemed to be rather immobile, as if as usual ramming into the window’s glass for its light, but there was no sound of it hitting the glass or flying to and fro.
Then as I finally looked, it hung suspended from a single strand of a spider’s web, and spun madly in circles; not circles with radius, but circles as though the web strand were a rigid axis which pierced its body, and around that by its own locomotion spun.
The fly was, as I know it, a ‘horsefly’, which are commonly nearing an inch in length and quite strong.  His or her mad endeavor was no doubt to escape, and she flit and spun with great force and frenzy.  And I wondered that she might escape, the odds seeming in her favor, the opponent being a single strand of web.  But the strand did not seem to give way.
About eight inches away I saw hanging a small spider which was so minute and slender that I thought she feared the fly’s immensity, or at least felt no hope of catching this rare prey.  But as I soon learned, it is difficult to estimate the will of a spider.  She had a body, to begin with, smaller than a grain of rice, and legs so fine, long and slender as to be imperceptible, or as some antiquated silk needling tools of yellowy jade.  They operated independently but mutually, manipulating the fine thread, or rhythmically plucking it to feel its motions, as fingers slowly at a harp.
The whirring, spinning fly did not seem to break free, though dangling straight from a single line.  The resilience of web is extraordinary, and must match the will of its maker, or in time the will were derived from it; such is its divinity, an anchor line which only gives way when the whole ship is at risk.
A curious thing was that the more the fly spun the higher it climbed.  The motion was as if it were on a pulley invisibly operated.  On occasion it would rise up slowly, and I saw that if it did not break free, it would entangle itself further in the overhead, crisscrossing lines.  I imagined that the web it were on tangled about its body and thus rose it up, and in fact one of its wings did fold in half and become immobile.  Here I could envision its end, and the spider on fearless legs climbed over to it while it were still in seizure and attached extra lines as she could, carrying them distant and tying them off.
All at once the fly, though in comparison immense, froze motionless, perhaps exhausted, and the little knitting lady went naturally about her work, tying off Gulliver and magically hoisting him up to near a leathery sack the size of a small pea.  Was it her incubating offspring?
She had seized a large and perhaps rare prey in a matter of three minutes.  She continued to rope it off and wrap it in a fine cocoon of web.  The fly, I imagined, in due time, upon losing all possibility of escape, darkens its mind and eyes and passes away on its own – as nature would have it – not waiting for the impaling fangs and the slow draw of blood.  Why would nature not supply this effortless and freeing channel to those who would use it? 
The next morning, returning to work, I visited the feasting grounds again to see what new events were taking place.  I found the spider still at the board some twenty hours later, drawing the last remains of bodily fluid from the absent fly.  The spider’s body had swelled to five times its previous size, and now matched the shell of her brood, though her colors became the palest pastel green diluted with white.  She was shiny and delicate while at her gruesome task.
Not wanting to disturb her while at her breakfast, I went about my work preparations.  But the next time I looked, some thirty minutes later, the fly’s carcass had been thrown out of the web, and she was tending to her peapod ones.  I picked up the fly’s carcass, and found it crisp and empty seeming.  Its unknown life, in these Japan Sea mountains, transforms miraculously to spider food, perhaps spawning the new brood of spiders; though not its own children, through its death, life is brought to life.  Its dreams may have been unrealized and dissipated with the morning dew, other dreams were born, and perhaps not unlike its own dreams too; and the event of its life vaguely reported here.
Thank you spider, thank you fly. As simple as you are, so am I.


The Story Behind the Police Log

By Lisa Kline
(Finlandia University student)

            Operator: “911. What's your emergency?”
            She never even heard the words as her hand holding the phone slid down to her side. This wasn't how she had planned for her birthday to end. This wasn't how she had planned for her life to end. But at this very second her husband, Matias, was standing three feet away, pointing his loaded 12-gauge at her that he had pulled out from under the bed.
            “Go ahead, Anni! Call me a drunken loser one more time! Come on! Call me a drunken loser, I dare you,” he shouted.
             Anni had just gotten home from her birthday dinner with the kids. She had taken them up to The Hut in Kearsarge for her free birthday dinner. Matias didn't come along. He was too drunk for public, and the only thing Anni wanted from Matias for her birthday was for him to be sober. He couldn't afford anything anyway, except for the watch that he bought her after he pawned his mother's acoustic guitar. So she took the kids for her ribs, full rack, and frozen custard just like she gets every year. Afterward, she dropped the kids off with their father and went home, anxious about what she would come home to.
            The house was dark. Anni paused by the glass on the sink and took a whiff. Hitting the hard liquor again. “Damn it!” She knew then that he had passed out upstairs in bed. “He's getting the sheets sour again,” she thought. She viciously stomped up the stairs. There he was, sound asleep, bloated body, snoring his fool head off. It was only eight-thirty and there he was lights out like the champion drunk he had built himself up to be over the past four years.
            Anni wasn't heartbroken this time. It was her birthday and she had had enough! She slapped on the bedroom lights hoping to blind him, but he didn't even twitch. This only boiled her blood even more. She gave him a good shove on the arm; she was in the mood for a fight now. She shoved him again, harder this time.
            “Wake up, Matias! It's my birthday and you're passed out! Wake up, you drunk loser!” She was ready for it now, hoping that the pitch of her voice would rouse him. Matias gave a mumble, startled out of his dark dreams, if he even dreamed in that state.
            Anni walked over to the dresser, threw her clothes onto the floor, and wiggled into her sweats.
            “I'm sick and tired of this, Matias! Every day! You don't work, you do nothing! Oh, wait. That's right you blow the snow for the neighbors! Let me applaud you!” Anni felt her heart start to pound in her chest. “God, I can't stand you anymore! You're such a drunken loser, you know that?” Anni climbed into bed, but she was too wound up now to sleep. She gave Matias another good shove in the back for good measure. He was awake now and his temper was about to blow.
            “You know what, Anni? I'm tired of your shit!” In one swift motion, Matias rolled out of bed, reached underneath the box spring, and produced his father's 12-gauge shotgun. Anni didn't know what exactly went through her mind at that second, but she knew enough to grab the phone off the nightstand, turn slightly, hit the 'Talk' button and, without looking, dial 911.
            “Go ahead, Anni! Call me a drunken loser one more time! Come on! Call me a drunken loser, I dare you,” Matias shouted. His eyes were a blurry blue and his blond hair was wild. “I swear to God I'll shoot you! Call me a drunken loser, Anni!”
            “Just put the gun down, Matias! Put it DOWN!” She knew that somehow she had to let the operator on the other end know that there was an emergency, but without Matias's knowing.
            “Say it! Say I'm a drunken loser!”
            “No! Just put the gun down! Please, oh please, just put the gun down! Please, Matias! Please I'm begging you, don't shoot me! I'm begging you!” There were only two thoughts that were going through Anni's head in those brief seconds. “My kids. My kids are going to miss me so much,” and “My guts, my intestines, will be all over the wall behind me. It will be a mess.”
            With the phone still in her hand, Anni slipped around the edge of the bed and dared to pass Matias.
            “Where are you going?” Matias asked.
            “Away from you!” Anni shouted, as she ran down the stairs. In a blur she grabbed her purse and scrunched her feet into her slippers. She remembered she still had the phone in her hand! “Hello? Are you still there? Did you hear all of that?”
            “Yes,” a female voice replied. “Where are you right now?”
            “I'm getting into my car! I'm going to lose you though!”
            The warm, mothering voice replied, “That's all right. We have your location. Do you have a safe place to go?”
            “Yes! I'm going straight to my friend Helmi's house. She lives right on Calumet Avenue, just straight down the street.”
            “Officers are on their way right-” and her voice was cut off.
            Anni drove down the hill and turned onto Calumet Avenue. Still shaking, she decided to pull over and breathe. As she parked out front of Dairy Land, the seasonal restaurant that was closed for the winter, she didn't notice much of anything except that she couldn't control her trembling legs. It was cold, end of January, and she hadn't brought her coat with her. Just then a pair of headlights came down the street from the opposite direction and the police cruiser they belonged to pulled up slowly next to her car. Anni slowly nodded her head to give them recognition that she was the caller, the subject on the police log.

(Author's note: Inspired by Finlandia faculty member, Lauri Anderson’s book: Back to Misery Bay: "Dostoevsky's Three Annas" and Other Stories from Michigan's Upper Peninsula.)


Looking Back

By Bella Erakko

I look back mystified
perhaps (I say to myself)
I was the one deranged,
lost in my own mental kitchen full
of  cobwebbed memories
and determined hope,
like unwashed dishes.

After all, my mother
(who I had never liked very much)
was demented.  Totally.

Imagine my surprise when
she “passed over”
and didn’t even
die.  No,
she chatted, pointed, explained
dead people to me.

Finally I gave up
and hired a translator --
psychic, for short.

With time and space dispensed with
(the wave of a holographic wand)
Elsie rumbled on of past likes and dislikes:
Dancing, yes.  Boating, no.

So what’s it like, Mom? on the other side
I open kitchen cabinets to put plates
on the table—two—one for me,
one for you.

I open the refrigerator door
where corpses long put in now commune
without need of voices (or a brain
for that matter) and find
I don’t have near enough plates.

I meet the interpreted Elsie
and her guests­­ -- a lively crowd
no longer bothered by carrots
growing white tendrils in the vegetable bin
or ice cream decked with hoar frost..

It seems music has more notes, light
more brilliance, love more purity, time
a rusting mechanism abandoned
in a parking lot overfilled with space. 

It’s a delightful party, totally minus
a brain. It seems
souls don’t need them,
the fragile sturdy bridge
between them traversed as
easily as day melts into night.

Blind Date

By W.S. Anderson

He was naked and wet
as a country road in April
when I came jalopying along,
dents shined, headlights dim,
ready for a few ruts before the flat.
But he wound graciously onward,
his mist coaxing me along.
The lake sloshed somewhere off his shoulders—
the dim dozen eyes of deer,
trout lily and trillium popping open,
the cool, damp smell of spring air.

Something told me, Pull over.
This trip needs to be savored,
this road needs to be walked.


Grandfather’s Hammer

By Eero Sorila

My grandfather (1876-1962 ) was walking about his farm property some twenty years before Finland became independent from Russia. In those days many were called by the name of their farm house instead of the proper family name including that of my grandfather. Luckily for me my own father used the official family name. The property name Kangasniemi would have been even more of a tongue twister than Sorila.
My grandfather Erkki Kangasniemi was farming in Finnish Ostrobothnia (Eteläpohjanmaa) in the village called Tuuri. The village name means luck but he encountered better luck by opening a blacksmith shop instead of farming the land of about 400 acres. The hammer felt better in his hand than the scythe.
As I was a young boy and looked at the bellows, the hearth, anvil and the homemade tools in the blacksmith shop it was like opening a treasure chest. At that moment my appreciation towards my grandfather grew in leaps and bounds because he had built the blacksmith shop and the tools by himself.  
The skills of a blacksmith in the village were sought after and many steel products were needed. He made steel rims for wagon wheels, rectangular pancake pans from sheet metal and much more. The most significant project for the blacksmith was still to come.  The owner of the local sawmill Mr. Inha was in desperate need of help.

Broken Axle

The axle holding the circular saw blade was broken. It had been broken into two pieces.  All work at the mill had come to a stop, Production was at zero and the employment prospect looked grim. The whole catastrophe was caused by the broken axle. It is fair to say that the village life revolved around the axle.
When the axle is in good shape it signified life, when it was broken it meant death. The sawmill owner most probably spent many sleepless nights for not finding anyone who could repair the broken axle. The situation was hopeless. Mr. Inha had heard of Erkki Kangasniemi but had some doubts if a blacksmith who mainly made rims for wagon wheels and pancake pans would be able to repair the broken axle.
      He however grabbed onto anything as a drowning person would, even unto a reed in the water. ( Hän tarttui kuin hukkuva oljenkorteen ) The local tycoon, Mr Inha asked my grandfather if he could repair the axle. There was no time or need for lengthy discussions and theories.  The iron needs to be molded when it is hot, goes a Finnish saying, (Rauta on taottava kun se on kuuma ).  Reality dictated that the broken axle meant bankruptcy for the sawmill owner and the end of livelihood for the villagers. In those days there were no such amenities as unemployment insurance.
The blacksmith lowered the axle pieces with his big callused hands gently unto the flames of the hearth.  The fire cleansed all impurities from the steel, which had been subjected to extremely high heat. The fine sand placed around the axle functioned as heat stabilizer. Sand welding was the name of this operation. The temperature of the flames controlled by the bellows had to be perfectly right. A certain color of the melting steel was an indication for the blacksmith when the hammering had to be done. That moment had arrived.
The axle pieces were lifted unto the anvil and with a homemade hammer the pounding started. Hammering sounds were heard in the village. The air was vibrating with suspense as to what would be the outcome. My grandfather’s hammer was in reliable hands. He was calm as a fermenting yogurt cask (rauhallinen kuin viilipytty) but relentless with the job at hand. The steel was screaming in agony under each blow. Sparks were flying like fireworks on July 4th in America.  This time however the sparks fell like diamonds unto the pitch black floor of the blacksmith shop. They were sparks of hope for an expected celebration.
The broken axle pieces started to unite under each hammer blow. Molecules found their right place in an orderly manner like scouts in a flag raising ceremony. The original state of the axle was soon to be achieved. That which had been broken was made new. After the axle received its last treatment in the lathe it looked like the best product from a Sheffield foundry. Soon the sawmill was in full operation. Mr. Inha was jubilant, the people of Tuuri returned to work and nobody including the sawmill tycoon would ever question the skills of the local blacksmith. It was time to celebrate. The sweet heat of the sauna near the blacksmith shop never felt so good.
 In 1962 when our family returned home from a summer holiday, an envelope with black frame had arrived in the mail. The firm grip on the blacksmith’s hammer needed to repair the broken axle had been released and my grandfather had died. It was a sad homecoming.

When Erkki Kangasniemi-Sorila celebrated his 70th birthday as pictured above he had fond memories of his long career as a blacksmith including the time when he repaired an axle around which the village’s life rotated.

Eero Sorila has a degree in history and has written many articles of adventure travel since 1969.
His articles have been widely published in Finnish and North American magazines.
Green Mattress Under the Stars, a 217 page book featuring 55 photographs, contains many of the unbelievable stories.
Available through USA bookstores and $19.99


Two Poems by Charles Peltosalo

Copper Plate

Copperhead colors,
Silvery bronze, fire tannin,
Copper plates round like suns adorn your cinnamon breast:
Your thin-worked skin glistens, undulates,
Shimmers like glass beads and diamonds under a metal sky.
I watch you bend the light each effortless turn,
Witness the colors dance in your snake-dipped gold escape from
Your circle outward; it spreads a billion shards,
Each sliver spinning from your center like a wheel.
Shine forever, copperhead, silent Etowah man transiting the grass.

The marsh awakes, slowly stretches like a seasoned runner.
Mounds of eager sweetgrass plume upward 100 ways.
Roused cattails fluff their wooly manes and
The moon-high water climbs the slow-receding banks.
Summer vapors press their fine beadwork together into undetectable diamonds and heavy-weight the air.
Pine flowers spire, laughing in the breeze to the pollen-hungry sun:
Amoneeta, beat your wings,
Stretch your claws,
Gouge in circles, shiny furrows, wavy lines.
Etch this copper plate of day.

The paper-thin, fed by sun-squeezed juices flit about the flowers’ constellations, and
Recreate the stars.
Black and yellow swallowtail, purple thistle hopping,
Dragonflies and monarchs string their tiffany pearls all along the swaying green,
Black and space-blue escorts close behind, multiple jewelers to create the royal Faberge day.
Their flight proceeds like Autumn leaves folding,
Muscadine and gum set swinging with the nectar wringing.
Young swamp-stationed cypress shoots small fingers green as each anole
Prowling the honeysuckle vines, brighter emerald than the earliest day of May.
Fragile flowers hang their purple bells, tissue-soft pastels posing,
Then in a breeze, losing their violet peals over the cut-glass pools:
Mirror-slides, seedling ringed,
Their hummocks dotted with gold-banded baby gators,
Dipped into by pig and otter,
Sipped at by bobcat, panther, bear.
Untrackable reflections flash across them.
White-head eagles show up as small quick darts and dots,
Then lose their mirror-kin over land.
Two marsh hawks acrobat with piercing playful cries’
Loose down markers to gravity’s bowl.
They soar the invisible ways,
Each pass a flirt with this stone-slow other two-foot.
Their each bright call: “Live life well and come back to Earth like me!”

A star-dipped bluebird hops about the fence tops,
Rapidly flits like an unstuck slice of nearby sky, he parallels my path while
Red-winged birds like jangled keys sing, and
Leopard frogs plunge faster than the eye, slower than the ear;
Alerted turtles slide and dash, disappear, set a perimeter the safest spot out,
Each radar eye and nostril.
Gators large as logs splash, then sink:
Rulers return to the marshes’ caramel gold’
In a hush, everyone awaits my trail gone cold.
A brisk Summer breeze from the Southwest blows,
Gator litters, mother’s muscle filigreed, leap en masse to waterholes.
Hunting marsh hawks call and spin as
The uncountable ants begin to lace the greening forest floor with redug grains again.
I’m suddenly surrounded: Here,
Violet iris, black-eyed susans are luxury spent on
Carpets, brocades, blankets for the day’s décor;
Summer’s colors today somehow brighter than each walk before.
Baby bobcat, playful yearling,
Emerges innocent as a kitten from Northeast compass woods,
Sits on haunches,
Yearns to play.
Run home to mama,
Run home forever.
You and yours, quick hide away.
Startled black snakes, shiny rubber tubes,
Race and bounce through the grass, or rest,
Sit coiled in the sun like cats on a lawn.
Black pig, brown pig, then the smaller brown-and-whites,
By the root-low shadows amble by unseen,
Slip off to the tested black-water streams.
There the bristle, tooth, and hair are stroked and groomed and preened.
Amoneeta, sail in low, spread your wings,
Extend your claws,
Trace in circles, wavy lines,
Etch the coppery plate of day.
All you innocents, playful yearlings,
Run home to mama,
Run home forever.
You and yours, quick, hide away.

Long Time, No See

Mt. Sentinel, my best friend in Missoula, long time, no see.
I missed you terribly; next time I’ll do a better job.
It’s been so long that Gypsy, my bandana-ed terrier who climbed you with me so often last century, had to reincarnate several times and
stick around the M-Trail, noble loyal friend that she was, until I returned.
In truth, Gypsy is a spirit I can’t rewrite like that.
She comforts me from the other side and accompanies me when I’m not there.
I miss her terribly, too, but next time I’ll do a better job.
My friendly hill, you who taught me to pray like a local and drink deep water,
Who taught me why to dance each step, grace-driven, and
Syncopated my breath to heart,
You lifted this body’s song from its’ dark chamber,
Chanting it into the light with your lyric trails.
It takes a truly sorry person to miss you so badly;
Next time I’ll do a better job.
After 40 years of climbs, 23 since my last,
I finally remembered a fast site,
A place I’ve often paused-long time, no see.
Life could be worse than to one day have my ashes spread by a stone person’s outcrop,
There where ravens’ wings meet the canyon’s breeze.
When I got to your top the other day,
I looked off into the neighboring woods and thought I saw little people.
It was normal people farther away than thought.
Maybe still, some little people saw me, closer than I thought.
Well, my mountain, my teacher, whose mule deer ears hear me 500 yards away when I pause or rattle,
My schooling on the lakebed below never really stood a chance
With all your magic and your beauty in my gaze all day.
Such inviting stairs to the bears’ and eagles’ beyond,
My great good luck, exquisite pretty sky, stars and lights and wind;
Off walking in the clouds I’d go.
Good health and great fortune as fuel, strong steps here is where degrees were earned.
The town never had a chance as I made my way close to that revealing sky
Which doubled its’ approach by its’ matching speed.
Long time, no see, my friend,
My pretty hill, my banked eternity.
I love you and I’ve missed you terribly.
Next time, I’ll do a better job.


Charles Peltosalo (the one with the glasses) and friend
Cgpelt at embarqmail dot com
A translation/adaptation of Lauri Pohjanpaa’s “Syksy”

Waino W. Korpela
Taken from the book Finn

           Two very old crows

                        on a fence in a field
            sat silently nodding-
            emotions concealed.

            The reeds had turned brown,

            the sky had turned gray
            and a steady, cold rain
            spawned a bleak, autumn day.

                        “The crane has flown south,”

                                    one said to the other,
            though it seemed that he spoke
            to himself not his brother.

            Silently perched,

            long minutes passed by,
            “He left yesterday,”
            the other replied.

And the cold tune yet played

            as rain danced on water
            but the friends were conjoined
            in the warmth of each other.

A blink of an eye,

            a tug at a feather,
            accepting their fate
            in wet autumn weather.

A whiff of grain drying

            was brought by the wind.
            Gathering darkness
            The day at an end.

Two old, wet crows

            sitting mute on a fence,
            each with his thoughts-
            hither, thither, hence.

Then one spread his wings

            and cawed a goodbye.
            “Nice chatting with you,”
            the other replied.


The Magnificence of Nature in Finland
By Elsie Jaehn
 As our plane touched down at the Tampere airport in mid-May, the birch trees were just beginning to leaf out, revealing fresh, green color, a remarkable contrast to the dark green of the evergreens and cedars interspersed in the picturesque scenery.  Ah, we were back to experience yet another three-month hiatus in a land much closer to the Arctic Circle than Lantana, Florida, is to the Equator.
            When we arrived at the cottage, nestled safely among 100-ft birches deep in the forest overlooking a placid lake, we were happy to be in our “summer” home, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, a place to regenerate and renew our mental, physical and spiritual selves.
            As we raked together mountains of fallen leaves from last fall, the greening of nature was becoming more and more evident.  The land that was practically barren when we arrived, had, within a week’s time, burst into a fabulous green celebration of life, invoking feelings of gladness and joy within ourselves.
            The farmers’ rich, brown fields were neatly plowed and ready to accept plantings for this year’s crops.  The scenery, as we drove to our weekly grocery shopping at Prisma in Kangasala, was an absolute delight to drink in and revel in its beauty.  In early June, the fields and meadows were overflowing with colorful wildflowers that provided many bouquets to grace our dining table for the duration of our stay. The forest floor was covered in a carpet of lily-of-the-valley whose pleasing fragrance permeated the air as we took long walks along the gravel road.
            To accentuate Midsummer Night (Juhannus), the purple, white and pink Lupines suddenly appeared, almost overnight, in great abundance along roadways, in fields and in most everyone’s garden.  What a joy to behold nature’s ever-changing bounty on a daily basis and add to it the ongoing sound of the cuckoo bird off in the distance, echoing clearly its repetitious tone throughout the forest setting.
            The long summer days periodically brought the great white swan couple and their youngsters to the shoreline of the property where we would sit in our swing and watch their activities, ensconced in the serenity of the forest environment.  Mama Koskelo, with eight or nine babies nestled safely atop her back, was also a frequent visitor, foraging for food among the lush marsh grasses at the edge of the lake.
            On and off we had storms that gathered momentum as the wind blew sharply through the forest sending the tall birches into a frenzied swaying motion that resulted in sheets of rain falling all around us.  About ten minutes later, when the rain and wind had passed, an indescribable stillness filled the vacuum left by the exiting squall.  Not a leaf rustled in any of the trees, and as I allowed myself to be mesmerized by the scene, I felt as though the forest was quietly enfolding me into its very self.  It was at times like those that I absolutely knew that we were one.  We are not separate from nature; we are an intricate part of it.  Those precious moments verified that truth for me over and over during the course of the summer days we spent in nature’s lush, green habitat deep in the Finnish forest.
            In July, the forest offered us wild blueberries galore, ready for picking by those who were so inspired, and blueberry pies were on the tables of all who had guests for coffee and cake on those pleasant summer afternoons.  At the beginning of August nature brought us wild raspberries to feast on and more pies to bake.  Ah, what a glorious bounty is given to us annually.  We are so blessed!
            As the short summer season wore on and the rain continued to visit us frequently, we knew that very soon the forest would provide us with an abundance of Kanttarelli (Chanterelle) mushrooms, and so it was to be.  By the end of July we had feasted on them a number of times, even giving several bag fulls away to neighbors and friends.
            Once the magenta Horsma (fireweed) was in full bloom, we knew that fall was not too far away.  Meanwhile, the farmers’ fields were covered in mantles of bright green color, as their crops grew quickly during the long summer days.  Roadsides were ablaze with purple thistle flowers, yellow yarrow, white daisies, and, of course, fields and fields of Queen Annes Lace, Finnish style.
            And then, as August began to encroach into the season, farmers began harvesting their crops, the Mountain Ash trees began sporting their bright orange berries, the Heather plants on the church ridge were dressed in their brilliant lavender hues, and the Lingonberries were beginning to turn bright red, a sign they were almost ready for picking and making into jams and jellies.  Yes, fall had come to the countryside.
            By the time we were airborne once again in mid-August for our return to hot and humid south Florida, the Finnish summer season had been taken over by the scenery of fall.  The fields and meadows were tired; they had completed their season’s work in such a short span of time, and we had the pleasure of experiencing the beauty of the summer season one more time.  We will have fond memories to last us over the winter until spring brings us back to this delightful land and the summer cycle begins anew. 

Oh, the Century!
(lyrics to a song)

Joanne Bergman

Oh, the homesteads! All the farms and the towns and the merchants and teachers and lawyers.
Ah, the lumber, when the sawmills appeared with the loggers and cooks and the sawyers.
Ah, the set-tlers! All the Irish-Italians, the Slavs, and the Swedes and the Finns.   
And the Lappalas, Milma and Risto came too, and they lighted a lamp burning still.

Ah, the forests! All the red pines and white pines and cedars and popple and birches.
Oh, the building! All the hospitals, depots, and town halls, schools, taverns, and churches.
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Our two churches! Mesabi U. U. and Alango were two--now we’re one.
The Lappalas, Milma and Risto had faith, and they lighted our lamp that burns still.

All the farmers! All the oats, hay, and barley and carrots and spuds and the turnips.
Oh, the gardens, all the dill and the pickles and rhubarb and lilacs and tulips.
Oh, the worship! All the Jews and the Christians and pagans, and agnostics, too.
And the Lappalas, Milma and Risto were here, and they lighted a lamp burning still.

Oh, the dance halls! Step to polkas and waltzes and schottisches all the night long.
Oh, the music! The ac-cord-ian-ist played using right and left brains, ev’ry song.
Heat the sauna! Our sisu defies all the cold and the ice and the snow!
For the Lappalas, Milma and Risto were here, and they lighted a lamp burning still.

Oh, the iron! With the open pit mines and the ore boats and union fights, to-o.
All the mining, all the hard hats and rail cars and steel that helped win World War Two-o.
Thank the miners, in the open pit mines and the hazardous work un-der-ground.
But the Lappalas, Milma and Risto were here, and they lighted a lamp burning still.

Oh, the cent’ry! Oh, the Fords and the highways and ru-ral e-lec-tri-fi-cation.
What a century! Yes the decades and years and the changes in civ-il-i-zation.
Unitarians! With our Old World beginnings and New World opinions we
 sing . . .
. . . For the Lappalas, Milma and Risto were here, and they lighted a lamp burning still.

Author’s Note:
In 1912 the reverends Risto and Milma Lappala established the Vapaa Kristillinen Kirkko (Free Christian Church) in Virginia, Minnesota and the Liberal Christian Church in Alango, 20 miles north of Virginia. Risto died suddenly in 1923, and Milma, now a widow with four children, continued to lead both congregations until her death in 1950.
            In 1991 an arson fire destroyed the Alango church, and the two congregations merged in 2001, strengthening what is now known as the Mesabi Unitarian Universalist Church, now 102 years old, in Virginia.
The churches continue to function as one, most frequently with lay-led services. the combined congregation continues to meet in the original 1913 building designed by architect John Okerstrom, where they frequently sing from the hymnal De Colores. I wrote the centennial words to De Colores for the Centennial Celebration of July 8, 2012.

By Lauri Anderson
As soon as he’s dead, contact your chosen funeral home and insist that they incinerate the body as soon as possible.  Do not put an announcement in the paper.  Ask them not to put one.  If necessary, pay them a small bribe.  Once his body is reduced to ash, do not buy an urn.  Do not put the ashes into a cardboard box or shopping bag because they will be very hot—put them into a pail.  Pails are very inexpensive at the dollar store.  You may want to cool the ashes with water before you take them to the town dump and throw them away.  Preferably, choose a part of the landfill that is about to be bulldozed so that the ashes will disappear into oblivion and the man will be erased.     
Begin next with his dog.  Go to the master bedroom (where he slept with wife #1, wife #2, wife #3, and …) and enter the only closet.  To the right is a box on the shelf.  In it you’ll find a handgun and ammunition.  Don’t be surprised.  After all, this is America.  Load the gun, take it downstairs, and enter the kitchen.  The pantry will be on your immediate left.  On the lower left shelf just inside the doorway is a bag of duck jerky.  The dog loves this stuff.  Take a piece with you and enter the living room.  The dog will be on his chair, the one he always sat in after his hip and knees went to hell.  Face the dog and enunciate distinctly the word out.  The dog will instantly perk up.  His tail will wag wildly and he’ll leap from the chair and run immediately to the door.  On the wall near the door the dog’s leash hangs from a hook.  Attach the leash to the ring hanging from the dog’s neck.  Take the dog outside and into the backyard.  Bend and with your left hand, offer the dog the piece of jerky.  The dog will come forward to take it.  With the pistol in your right hand, shoot the dog in the head.  If you do it right, he’ll instantly be dead.  Throw the still-leashed body onto the grass by the garbage container behind the front steps.  Return to the kitchen and wash your hands.  Under the sink is a package of official city disposal bags.  Take one, return to the dog carcass, and throw it into the bag.  Carry the bag to the roadside.  Early Friday morning the city waste truck will come by and take away the dog.  You’ll never see it again.  The dog will be erased.  That part of the man will be erased.  If there is blood on the grass where you shot the dog or threw the carcass, rain will soon erase it.  The world and you will be safe from that memory.  Don’t forget to rewash your hands.
The man died with mementoes from the unusual places where he once lived and worked.  Because he never returned to those places and lost all contact with former students and friends from these places, you can safely assume that no one in these odd corners yet remembers that he ever existed.  Destroy these items—a Palauan grass skirt, Hausa hats, an Inuit painting, Trukese leis, Igbo masks, Yoruba fans, a Tibetan mask from a Nepalese refugee camp, a Hausa grammar book and dictionary, a Turkish cezve, a Hittite shirt, a six-foot-long map of Togo, a large map of Truk Lagoon.  Mementoes of this kind should not exist in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Burn them (or sell them on eBay, which amounts to the same thing).  Mementoes from Paris and other European places are less distinctive and less of a threat.  Just throw them in with the rest of his possessions.  The same should be done to Mexican items.
This guy taught weird stuff sometimes.  In Commonwealth Literature he taught authors who write in English but who are from Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific islands, India, Pakistan, Guyana, New Zealand, Tristan da Cunha,  and Australia.  He also taught Finnish-American literature and Island Cultures of Micronesia.  Why?  What’s that all about?  Why should money be wasted on such esoterica?  Students need to study engineering, science, math, management, economics, and health sciences.  The wave of the future is in Sports Management.  Everything else is just a waste of time.  Fortunately all of his classes have died with him and we can get back to the practical, to useful stuff that keeps people broadly ignorant.  There’s nothing more irritating than an educated population.  Just look at what happened back in the ‘60s.  Those liberally educated masses ended a war and segregation and got civil rights for minorities, women, and workers.  They reformed schools.  They messed up.  Now we have to roll back and erase their mess.  Erasing this guy is just one small step for mankind.
He’s a weasel too.  He knows next to nothing about music but has written about meeting Ravi Shankar one afternoon in Paris, about meeting a West Virginia woman who was there as a child observer when her father sold some moonshine to Hank Williams in the wee morning hours of January first in 1953.  A couple of hours later, Hank was dead.  He’s seen Hal Lone Pine, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan live in concert.  So what?  If we erase the man’s words, we erase the events.       
Clean out his office.  He has approximately 2500 books in there, including the major works of all of the world’s major writers.  He has an equal number of books at home.  Books define him.  That’s what he is—books.  He’s also grammar and punctuation.  Students have called him a grammar Nazi.  Yes, he is guilty.  We do not need a Nuremberg.  Destroy all of his grammar and mechanics books.  Give the other books to the college library.  They will sell a few by the front door—ten cents each. 
The rest they will throw away, though they might keep The Graves of Academe, an original edition of Howl, Provence and Pound.  Who knows what they might choose to keep?  It doesn’t matter.  The saved will be shelved in the stacks.  After all, today’s library is a computer center.  Today’s young people spend their time reading from computer screens and phones and iPads.  They don’t even know what stacks are.  They never wander the stacks.  He will be erased.
Throw out all printed matter found on or in the three desks, the filing cabinets, the chairs.  Much of it is in cardboard boxes unopened since the ‘70s or ‘80s.  Here and there are drafts of manuscripts, including several completed unpublished novels.  REMEMBER—the most dangerous aspect of this man is his writing!  Be sure any and all manuscripts are destroyed.  Be sure to include photos of his mentors—Hemingway, Cather, O’Connor, Joyce, Dostoyevsky.
These cover the walls.
Finally, rip down all of the stuff on the hallway walls near his office.  The man created an elaborate collage of himself, selfishly spreading his self-promotion to the walls of colleagues.  This collage is made up of dozens of cartoons, of satirical comments on academic conferences concerning baseball or Ali.  Destroy all of this collage.
From all of the print in and outside of his office, be sure to save only all references to strategic plans, assessment, and board meeting minutes.  He’d hate that.
Now turn to the man’s home—the place he’s lived since 1978, the place he bought for $22,500.  Burn it and all that is inside after you have removed pictures that his children might want.  Otherwise, people might remember that he existed while they are driving by.  Include the garage.
After these steps we will be safely rid of the man and his damned books.  Yes, copies will still be scattered about the country and in Europe (especially in Finland), but publishing has changed and his publisher has changed too.  His publisher now only keeps a book in print if the author is constantly setting up places to sell the few printed copies.  Within a couple of years, his publisher will have killed off all of his books and he’ll be forgotten.  About four thousand bookstores have closed, so most outlets for books have disappeared.  So has he.  Yes, he had nine NEH grants and spent summers with academics doing research on esoteric topics such as Twelfth-Century Provencal Literature (Mount Holyoke), Contemporary Islamic Literary Topics (Colorado College), Commonwealth Literature (Indiana University), The Contemporary Mexican Novel (UGuadalajara), The Russian Novel (Cornell), American Humor (UNew Mexico), Appalachian Writers (Ferrum), and so on.  It doesn’t matter.  Academics are notorious for meeting all sorts of people that they’ll promptly forget ever existed. 
So he will very quickly be erased.  A thousand years from now no one will know that he ever existed.  All of his words, words, words will not just be forgotten—they will be erased.  But since we are doing nothing about climate change or population control, our descendants will be erased by then too.
If in the next thousand years Dostoyevsky’s writings are erased, we’re all in trouble.  We will be the blankness of the remainder of this sheet.
Yes, it’s been a very long winter.  James Welch had it right.  Here in this part of the world we all have winter in the blood.  Our boards are white.  We erase them to blankness.             


Lauri Anderson is a long-tenured English Professor at Finlandia University and has published multiple books, the most recent being From Moosehead to Misery Bay or The Moose in the VW Bus, North Star Press ISBN 978-0-89839-6644
Lauri dot anderson at Finlandia dot edu        
The Rabbit Hole 

By Lisbeth Holt

How do I get out of this place?

How did I even ever get here?

Who made that final push; was it me?

And why now, why here, I repent

For whatever it is that I may have done

And obviously must have done

Or I would not be here;

Here, in this strange convoluted place!

I don’t like this growing inwardness of my bones

Or this fragile softening of my skin;

The fragmented bursts of my words.

No!  This is not a stage I had envisioned:

I had dreamed of a far-arching ascent into the ethers

Or secret exit into a hidden wilderness.

Not this!  A macabre carnival house of sorts;

To show up and not be me!

How appalling a scene

Here in the rabbit hole where I am under scrutiny.

Can I execute a final redemptive leap of faith

And return to that miraculous state of grace?

My inner fire must discover the way

To spiral upward in a radiant flame…

Today will be the day of my great escape!

I’ll consider it a nightmare that I had

And then blessedly awoke to be me again –

Bruised but free again, in embrace of angels.

Lisbeth Holt
travelbylis at aol dot com


FinNALA Newsletter Editorial Team:


Terri Martin, Editor-in-Chief

Sirpa Kaukinen, Assistant Editor

Beth Virtanen, Publisher