Monday, March 30, 2015

The FinNALA Newsletter

Volume 8, No. 1

Publication of the Finnish North American Literature Association
© March 30, 2015

Beth L. Virtanen, Editor-in-Chief
Sirpa Kaukinen, Assistant Editor
G.K. Wuori, QC Watchdog

It’s time to Subscribe/Renew your Membership for 2015 in the
Finnish North American Literature Association (FinNALA)

The Perks of Membership:

·         Receive online access to Kippis! Literary Journal
·         Receive access to the FinNALA Facebook group
·         Get announcements of what’s happening in the Finnish-North American literary community
·         Get online issues of the FinNALA Newsletter

Membership Fee for 2015
·         $20.00 US

By Mail

·         Send your name and address and your membership fee in the form of a check or money order made out to “FinNALA” to the following address:

Beth Virtanen, President
P.O. Box 212
L'Anse, MI 49946  USA
Use your credit card for online payment
·         Visit us at
·         Click on Membership and submit payment with PayPal
·         You don’t need a PayPal account—look for link to pay with your credit card. 
We are on the web at  

Call for Submissions: Kippis!

Submissions are still open for the next edition of Kippis!  We are planning on having a print edition for FinnFest 2015 so it’ll be a great chance to showcase your work and gain fame, fortune, and a host of admirers.  Or, at the very least, you’ll gain a great deal of satisfaction.  Send your stories, poems, essays, memoir bits, and art work to gkwuori at hotmail dot com.  We look forward to seeing your work!

Spring New Orphic Review in Print

The Spring, 2015 issue of The New Orphic Review has now been published. Entitled “Dysnarrativia”, it contains historical fiction, murder mysteries, science fiction and literary fiction. Last fall one of its contributors, Tyler Keevil, won the $10,000 Journey Prize Award. Subscriptions, $30.00 per year, can be sent to:   Editor-in-Chief: Ernest Hekkanen, 706 Mill Street, Nelson, B.C.  V1L 4S5  Canada

New Edition of Dreambook (Unikirja)

from Fox Spirit Books

A new edition of K. A. Laity’s collection DREAMBOOK will come out in April from Fox Spirit Books in the UK. Inspired by a wealth of Finnish mythology, this new edition contains new stories in addition to the original stories, poems and play that were in the 2009 edition released as UNIKIRJA.
Laity won a Eureka Short Story Fellowship and a Finlandia Foundation grant to complete the work on this collection immersed in the ancient tales of the Kalevala and Kanteletar. She even visited the Astuvansalmi pre-historic rock paintings to get in touch with the mythic past. The stories are both modern and historic but they all engage with traditional tales of the past. The collection ends with the play “Lumottu” which examines Finnish emigrants in America in the early twentieth century.

Praise for the collection:
“You will want to savor every word, every page and read this book over and over. The warmth and peacefulness these stories bring to the reader feels like a big, comfortable blanket on a cold wintry day” — The Pagan & the Pen
“K. A. Laity’s efforts make Finnish mythology and folklore relevant today in ways that resonate with the modern reader. She mates myth and womanhood exquisitely. In short, her work is fabulous.” — FinNALA
Fox Spirit Books [] offers a wide variety of genre-breaking fiction and has been nominated for British Fantasy Society awards.


Dettmann's Courageous Footsteps Debuts

Diane Dettmann’s debut historical novel, Courageous Footsteps, will be released in early May. It’s a story about two teenagers who are imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp during WWII. Surrounded by barbwire fences and the constant watch of armed guards, Yasu and her older brother, Haro, struggle to accept the hardships of camp life. As time passes, the confinement, strict regulations and humiliation force them to make courageous choices that will change their lives forever. The following excerpt is from the opening chapter.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 – December 1941
Wrapped in her robe, Yasu scooted down the hallway with Kenta, the family’s loyal German shepherd, at her heels. When her brother Haro joined them in the hallway, Kenta snuggled up to his leg. With only one small bathroom in the house, the schedule was tight. Seeing her chance, Yasu quickly slipped into the bathroom and beat her brother at their morning competition—a daily challenge Haro enjoyed winning.

“Hey! No fair!” he yelled from the hallway.
Pleased to have beaten her brother, Yasu quickly bolted the door, washed her face and combed her hair. The minute she opened the bathroom door, her brother pounced on her. At seventeen and two years older, he was always ready to take on his sister’s challenges.
“Think you’re pretty smart, huh? Well, I’ll get you tomorrow.”
She flashed her brother a smile and wiggled out of his grasp. “We’ll see about that.”
The aroma of hot chocolate swirled around the cozy kitchen as she slid onto the hard bench of the breakfast nook. Kenta settled down on the tattered rug by the back door. Her father, engrossed in the Los Angeles Times, paused and looked at his daughter as she nestled in next to him.
“Good morning, my sweet butterfly.” He had called her “butterfly”—a Japanese symbol of joy and longevity—for as long as she could remember.
At ten o’clock they walked to Sunrise Lutheran Church together. After the service they returned home and enjoyed Mother’s delicious roast chicken dinner. As soon as the meal was over, Haro retreated to his attic bedroom while Yasu finished the dishes and then joined her parents in the tiny living room. She cuddled up next to Kenta on the floor. As she stroked his heavy fur, she thought about her sixteenth birthday just weeks away. She looked forward to sharing a hot fudge sundae at Floyd’s Burgers with her friend Ruth. She had known Ruth since second grade, and they did everything together. As she listened to the radio, Glenn Miller’s trombone pulsed the catchy rhythm of “In the Mood.”
A panic-filled voice broke through the music. “Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor! Early morning attack! Thousands dead! Flames! Smoke! Relentless attack!”
Words of war crackled through the fabric of the radio speaker until the music program returned. The Sakamotos continued to listen as frequent updates to the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor interrupted the Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller tunes on the radio. Yasu eased herself off the floor. When she sat down beside her father, he gently held her hand. Worried about the horrific attack, they sat in silence.
Finally Yasu looked up. “Father, why did this happen?”
Mr. Sakamoto leaned forward in his chair and shook his head. “I don’t know.”
Diane Dettmann’s the author of Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal and Miriam Daughter of Finnish Immigrants. She has shared her writing at local author events, festivals and international conferences in Finland and Canada. Diane’s website:


American Murder Houses

by Steve Lehto

Steve Lehto's American Murder Houses is a compendium of exactly that – houses around the country where murders took place. The book contains more than two dozen chapters – each one about a specific house – and photos. The houses that made the list are famous and notorious and most are ones people have heard of. Some are not as well known, but each still attracts attention, years or
decades later (and some, centuries later). The story of each murder is told, if we know who did it or why, and what the house has gone through since. I even include the addresses of each. The book was published by Berkley in February and is available nationwide.

Reflections of a Gloomy, Cold Summer Day

in Vehkajarvi, Finland

by Elsie Jaehn

            Dark, ominous clouds were hanging low in thickly clustered layers over the lake.  It looked as though one could almost reach up, grab hold of them and rent them apart to allow the warmth of the summer sun to flow through upon the earth below.  Such was the greeting as we awakened on that 49-degree July morning deep in the heart of central Finland.

            As I held my head in my hands looking out the window, while the fireplace sputtered to life after being fed yet another offering of birch logs to keep the cozy cottage warm, I wondered what I would do with this seemingly unattractive gift that had been thrust into my lap.  Two choices were apparent: a) I could mope and gripe about the weather, or b) I could look for the positive aspects of this day and allow it to evolve in a grand fashion.  I chose the latter.
            After dressing appropriately, including gloves (still can't believe it's July, and by the way, what's this I hear about Global Warming?), I gathered up the bag of garbage from under the sink and was off to the refuse station located about a half-mile away on the main roadway.
            I opted to take the back way along the gravel road through the forest to get there.  As I walked the length of path, I suddenly realized that Nature was not at all displeased with the weather conditions.  Birds were trilling away without a care in their little hearts; bless them.  I rounded a bend and saw a neighbor's small potato patch happily growing while surrounded by a rare and colorful orchestration of summer wildflowers that waved receptively in the gentle breeze that wafted through the air all around me. Farther along the path, I came upon a few seemingly abandoned old farm buildings still vibrant and alive dressed in their mottled red paint and white trim.  They seemed quite comfortable in their residence while lush foliage in assorted shades of green cradled them in their embrace.  I stopped often and marveled at Nature's bounty. Thistle plants taller than I were ready to burst into deep purple blooms once the sun would send forth its warming rays to break open their swollen buds.  But that was to be on another day.  Nevertheless, the promise was there, and so it would happen eventually.
            The silence of my reverie was broken only by the rhythmic crunch of gravel under my feet as I walked upon the forest path.  Actually, the sound enhanced my focus and concentration as I continued to drink in the beauty all around me.  Finally, I arrived at my destination, dropped the garbage into one of the containers and continued on my way along the roadway for a quarter of a mile or so before I turned down yet another gravel trail that would take me back to the cottage.
            I meandered through the neighbors' barnyard and marveled at the huge rhubarb leaves and then remembered how flavorsome was the rhubarb pie that I had tasted at their home a week or so before.  Farther along, I stopped briefly to watch an ant colony busily working, as always, on the enormous hill they had amassed over the years.  They didn't seem concerned at all about the weather conditions of the day.  The wild raspberry canes were heavily laden with fruit that would ripen within the next four weeks or so—they too didn't seem at all disturbed about the fact that the sun wasn't shining today, and as I concluded my walk, I realized that I too had found beauty in the seemingly imperfect day—it was perfect after all!
            My heart was happy and filled with joy, peace and contentment as I sat on the lawn swing in my heavy clothing and gloved hands looking out over the lake where the dark, ominous clouds still hung in thickly clustered layers just as I had left them a couple of hours ago.  May you too continually find sunshine in your hearts no matter the weather conditions that exist outdoors.__Elsie Jaehn
Contact the author at jaehn4 at aol dot com



Mountain Writers Series at Vie de Bohème


with Kathleen Halme 

April 15, 2015 
Wednesday, 7:30 PM
Vie de Bohème on SE 7th & Clay
1530 SE 7th Avenue, Portland 97214
Suggested donation $5

 —Kathleen Halme’s fourth book of poetry, My Multiverse, was named winner of the 2014 Green Rose Prize at New Issues Press at Western Michigan University. Her first book of poetry, Every Substance Clothed, was winner of the University of Georgia Press Contemporary Poetry Series competition and the Balcones Poetry Prize. Her second collection, Equipoise, was published by Sarabande Books, and her third, Drift and Pulse , by Carnegie Mellon University Press.  Her poems have appeared widely in journals, including Ploughshares, Poetry, TriQuarterly, Boston Review, and Anthropological Quarterly.


New Issues Press is offering a 40% discount to friends who order the book directly from them at The promo code to use is "indie40disc."

Halme is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Fellowship in Anthropology, and an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship. She is a native of Michigan's upper peninsula and lives in Portland.  
Join Mountain Writers and the literary community to celebrate the launch of Kathleen Halme’s new book of poetry, My Multiverse ,  winner of the 2014 Green Rose Prize at New Issues Press.
Kathleen Halme grew up in Wakefield, a post-mining and logging town in Michigan’s upper peninsula. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan, where her work was awarded the Hopwood Creative Writing Award.  Her honors include a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in poetry, a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship in anthropology, and an Oregon Literary Fellowship.  



                                 Herring Odyssey                                     

Text and Photo

Eero Sorila

     While visiting Finland I remembered something. A Finnish-Canadian friend named Erkki, had said  many times; “ I miss Finn style pickled herring.”
     In a Helsinki grocery store I spotted a shelf which was filled with herring jars. Among them I looked for the Matjes label. Nothing else would do. Suddenly the right label stared at me and I purchased five jars.
This Matjes herring jar experienced an adventure as it
 crossed the Atlantic, but the  contents remained intact.

     My feeling of satisfaction rose instantly like pulla dough. I knew how Erkki would enjoy this Finnish delicacy. Even if it was possible to find the identical herring in North America, its’ value soars to the Northern Lights when brought personally from Finland.
     Carefully placing the jars into mittens, socks and other protective clothing I felt that all was safe. The jars would have to survive the long trans-Atlantic flight.
     My backpack which was already filled with other goods looked and felt like a massive hard boiled egg after the herring jars were added. 
     The inflated oddity was too large to fit in the Finnair overhead shelf. Wrapped in a big plastic bag I hesitantly lowered it unto a luggage conveyer belt by the check in counter. As if starved for herring, it was devoured instantly.



Herring shower

     In hopes that all was fine, I picked up the backpack from the luggage carousel in Vancouver Canada.
     To realize that the backpack was emitting herring odour was a shock. There was no time or interest on my part to ponder why. I made a fast exit from the airport knowing that everybody would not react as favourably to herring smell as people of Finnish background might.
      Fortunately the odour remained confined in my own car as I returned home from the airport.
      The scary moment of opening the backpack at home was at hand. Like a bursting cloud, the Matjes herring odour rose to the kitchen ceiling. Clothing, magazines and a stack of books inside the backpack had received a shower of herring broth. You can imagine the mess.
     Most probably the air pressure with vibration during the flight had opened four of the herring jars.
     When the herring odyssey was over, I was delighted to present one jar, which had not opened, to Erkki.
The author of this story has published a photo book with his sister Mirjam Rand. In the American Monuments you will discover amazing stories behind the landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon and many more.  1-888- 795-4274


The Homely Vegetable

by Carol Van Der Woude


           Some vegetables and fruits don’t seem appealing. My first experience tasting an avocado came when my family bought one from the grocery store—out of curiosity. It was not ripe, but we didn't know that. It was hard, slippery and bland. I thought it was strange that people ate avocados.
My second experience came when I was on a short-term mission trip to Guatemala. A friend shared a ripe avocado with me. It was an immediate hit. The taste and texture of the avocado was delicious. Now I could appreciate it!
The rutabaga is a homely vegetable. Have you seen a rutabaga in the grocery store? It is an ugly globe covered with wax. I have purchased rutabagas to make pasties. My mother always added rutabaga to pasties.
Often the checkout clerk at the local grocery store would pause and stare at the waxed object, and then look up and ask, “What is this?” And if she was being chatty, “What do you do with it?”
My response has been, “I am going to make some pasties.” Everyone understands that in upper Michigan. But in Illinois that comment can lead to more questions or a glazed look that informs me that no further explanation is desired.
To my surprise I saw beautiful gold and lavender roots larger than a giant beet at  the Farmer's Market.  The greens were still intact. This is a rutabaga? Of course I bought one, and I found new uses for the rutabaga: adding to mashed potatoes to give a sharper flavor, substituting it for the mashed potatoes in my potato rolls, trying out recipes for rutabaga casserole.
 Maybe I could grow rutabaga in my garden. My first attempt at growing rutabagas didn't turn out so well. The roots were very small. But the greens held stalks with pods of seeds. I collected the pale beige pods containing tiny black seeds with plans for future planting.
Then I consulted a Rodale gardening book*. I discovered important information. These plants should be planted in mid summer; they grow best when they mature in cool weather. They should stay in the ground through the first fall frost.
            Many Finnish cookbooks have a recipe for rutabaga casserole. Rutabaga is a popular vegetable in Finland because Finland has a short growing season and the vegetable is well suited to that climate.
            The homely vegetable is like the ugly duckling. Rutabaga has become a favorite in my kitchen and a connection with my Finnish heritage. I have plans for rutabaga in my garden again this year.
·         M. B. Hunt & B. Bortz, High-Yield Gardening. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1986.

Carol is the author of Aliisa’s Letter. The novel is available for purchase on her website: Contact the author here: carolapv at


by Eila Savela


Tomorrow is Sunday,
The first day of the week.
Even so,
Don’t seek out
Of the way places—
The cobbled streets
That twist and
Dwindle to one-way alleys.
Even though
Shimmer across the surface,
Fooling the senses that spring is
Don’t forget—
It is Sunday, eternal Sunday,
And you without your best suit
Will come crying to find
Why the river turns so.



Six Solitary Haiku

by Eila Savela

Elusive blossom—
Unworldly but not cloistered,
Wind-strewn petals fall.
With a single mind,
Sparrows flit in the hedges,
Ants swarm in the streets.
Sun-yellow wheat field,
Blackbird gleaming in the tree,
Strong blue sky above.
Beach. Sand. Foaming waves.
Seagulls white and simple grey.
Flotsam and deadwood.
An overcast mind
Sees nothing but the surface,
Skips on the water.
Give me solitude
But never isolation,
Not a barren stream.
Contact the poet at esavela10 at



Hot Romp on the Beach

by Karen Rossi

(AKA Kaarina Brooks)

             Barbara has agreed to help out her friend with birthday party preparations—at a nudist beach!A newbie, she's not exactly feeling comfortable with her naked self, and seeing the most gorgeous hunk doesn't help. All she can do is hurry to the safety of her beach umbrella and dream of this look-alike of the statue of David.
            Dave is helping his friend's volley ball team in a tournament—at a nudist beach! There being aroused by a gorgeous woman presents a very real and visible problem. How do the regulars deal with such an awkward situation?
            Were Dave and Barbara attracted to each other just because they were nude, or would every magical thing have happened even if they'd been fully clothed?
Kaarina Brooks, writing as Karen Rossi, has joined the growing number of grannies who write erotic romances. Her novella, Hot Romp on the Beach, is one of four stories in an anthology, Hot Encounters, which was  #57 on the top 100 Amazon list in Canada soon after coming out in March, 2015.
Kaarina also writes sweet romances and has just completed a three-book series, Portraits of Love, which an editor at Soul Mate Publishing has asked to see. Thumbs up for getting accepted!
Kaarina is also looking into self-publishing, the hottest thing since the printing press in the publishing world.

WELCOME to the 75th Finnish Canadian Grand Festival and Nordic Fair 2015

June 26 – 28, 2015.

Finn Festival 2015 is organized by the Finnish-Canadian community of Toronto, Ontario, in Canada, and expects a record number of participants and visitors from far and near. 
Finn Festival 2015 offers something for every age.  There are concerts ranging from rock to traditional popular music, from folk to classical music, and from solo performances to choirs.  You can see two Finnish theatre productions, folk dancing performances and art exhibits.  You can attend lectures and religious programs, stroll through the tori-market place.  There are programs for children.  You can dance the night away at three festival dances, including a gala dinner-dance, as well as play a round of golf at the Nordic Golf Tournament.
Finn Festival 2015 is held in conjunction with Nordic Fair, which showcases the history, culture, traditions, as well as the modern life of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.  Nordic Fair 2015 will only just touch the surface on what Nordic cultures have to offer with beautiful crafts, cuisine, fine goods and a great program on stage.  This fair will truly showcase the best of our heritage – June 26 – 28 at Mel Lastman Square in Toronto, Canada.
For more information on the events and how to register, please visit and  Please email us your event ticket reservations today.
Finn Festival 2015 will be your chance to discover the “FINN in you” and immerse yourself into all things Finnish.  All this entertainment is not to be missed!  June 26 - 28 at Mel Lastman Square and North York Memorial Hall.