Thursday, April 7, 2016

 The FinNALA Newsletter

Communication of the Finnish North-American Literature Association

Volume 9, No. 1
Publication of the Finnish North American Literature Association

© April 1, 2016

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

It’s time to Subscribe/Renew your Membership for 2016 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 2016
·         $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
FinNALA, 931 Bayshore RoadL'Anse, MI 49946  USA

·         Use your credit card for online payment.
     o   Visit us at
     o   Click on Membership and submit payment with PayPal
     o   You don’t need a PayPal account—look for link to pay with your credit card.

Announcements & News
Kippis Accepting Submissions 

Kippis is now accepting submissions for our next issue.  Send us your stories, poems, remembrances, essays.  We’d especially like to see your poetry, but all submissions will be thoughtfully considered. Don’t be shy!  Your work will be seen by a kind audience interested in what you can do.  Guidelines for submission can be found at and submissions can be sent to gkwuori at hotmail dot com.


 FinNALA Website Working on New Look

The FinNALA websits is updated and functional, but we are still waiting on our professional update. Look for details later in the year. In the meantime, the website is functional and can be used for renewals and for viewing our latest updates.


 Membership in the
FinNALA Facebook Group Growing
For the past couple of years, FinNALA has operated a private group for its membership to share announcements and updates, and to provide opportunities for networking among its membership. Membership participation has grown and each month sees new members joining the group. Please do feel free to request membership in that closed group in order to share information about your own publications and publications of interest to you, including links to your own websites where your publications might be purchased. As well, readers can share reviews of the works they would like to recommend. FinNALA is pleased to see a vigorous exchange among our members and guests.

To join, simply search for "FinNALA" and request membership. An editor will approve your request quickly.


John Hirsimaki’s First Novel in Print
Lesser Mortals is the story of Aino set against the sweep of Finland's history from its days as a Grand Duchy of the Tsarist Empire through its war of independence, its fight for survival in the 1939-40 war against Soviet Russia and beyond, with a touch of intrigue and mystery. Independent minded characters, stalwart and courageous, often out of time and place people Aino's life from Finland to America and back again in search of her national identity.

About the author: Brooklyn born and bred, merchant seaman, Korean War era veteran, news reporter, Columbia graduate, teacher and insurance executive, John C. Hirsimaki lives in Sonoma, California with his wife and family. Lesser Mortals is his first novel.

Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Timberhill Publishing (February 22, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692621970
ISBN-13: 978-0692621974



Hekkanen Declared a Literary Landmark
Ernest Hekkanen’s collection False Memories and Other Likely Tales (978-1-894842-26-6, $18.00) has become one of his best-selling titles. Alan Twigg of BC BookWorld has declared Hekkanen a Literary Landmark. Go to the Literary Map of BC and click on the only balloon over Nelson, and you will find his particulars.


Lehto’s Latest Book in print

Steve Lehto’s book “Dodge Daytona and Plymouth Superbird: Design, Development, Production and
Competition” was published in February, 2016, by CarTech Books. The book tells the story of

Chrysler’s development of the fastest “stock” cars ever built and sold to the public. The cars were so fast, in fact, that they forced NASCAR to rewrite their rulebook. The cars have also become collector’s items. Originally selling in the $5,000 range, one recently sold at auction for $1,000,000.



Finnish-American Architect Beautified St.Louis
New Book out by Rand and Sorila

In 1947, Finnish-American architect, Eero Saarinen designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. Construction began in 1963 and was completed in 1965. The cost was 13 million dollars. In today’s currency that price would be $97,300,000.

This stainless steel arch, on the west bank of the Mississippi River, sits where the city of St. Louis began. It was built to honour President Thomas Jefferson, the explorers Lewis and Clark, and the settlement which fur traders Pierre Laclede and Auguste Choteau started here in 1764.

Gateway Arch is the tallest memorial in the USA and is the highest arch in the world. Saarinen designed the 630-ft arch to be earthquake proof by embedding 60 feet deep footings. He created the structure out of hollow stainless steel that can sway up to nine inches in either direction, withstanding 150 miles per hour winds.

Inside the tube a tram system takes visitors to the observation deck at the top. From here a panoramic view of St. Louis unfolds to over four million visitors a year.

Among Saarinen’s other accomplishments are the design awarding Tulip and Womb chairs and JFK International Airport’s TWA Flight Center.

For more information on American icons, see the following:
American Monuments-The Stories Behind Our Icons by Mirjam Rand and Eric Sorila.

To order copies of this book, contact:

Mirjam Rand has always loved photography and journalism. Having immigrated to Canada from Finland many years ago, she loves to visit undiscovered local delights as well as exotic locations around the world. She has had her work published by Alberta Tourism, many calendars and the Red Deer Advocate. She earned her B.F.A. and Teaching degree from Sir George Williams University in Montreal and has just recently retired from a career in education.

New and forthcoming titles by Helena Halme

 The Navy Wife

Helena Halme

Can love stay on course?
Kaisa knows she should be happy.  

Marriage to the Englishman, the dashing Peter, was a mere dream when she was a student in Helsinki. But now the newlyweds are constantly arguing.  

Kaisa still loves Peter, even more when he goes away to sea, but she also wants a career, and no one wants to give a job to a foreign Navy Wife.  

Kaisa needs to do something to change her new life, but she has no idea what.  

One thing she mustn’t do is fall for another man …  

The Navy Wife is the long-awaited sequel to The Englishman, which attracted thousands of readers when first published on Helena Halme's blog. 

The Navy Wife can also be read as a standalone novel. 

Praise for The Englishman
"The Englishman will be one of the best true stories you'll read this year!" 
"A cracking read" 
"This gave me goosebumps"

The Navy Wife by Helena Halme
Newhurst Press
ISBN-13: 978-0957371194
ISBN-10: 0957371195
BISAC: Fiction / Romance / Military
Paperback $10.99
Kindle copy $3.99

The Finnish Girl
Helena Halme

Can you be too young for love?
Midsummer in Finland is a magical time ...

Kaisa is the new girl in town – again.

When a messy divorce forces Kaisa's mother to move to a small flat in an island suburb of Helsinki, Kaisa isn't looking forward to another new school. But in Lauttasaari she meets Vappu Noren, and begins to spend most of her time in Vappu's large, chaotic house, filled with her three unruly siblings and their friends.

Kaisa doesn't notice that she is being quietly observed by the friend of Vappu's brother, a much older, serious boy called Matti. When spring turns into Midsummer, Matti finally decides to approach the girl of his dreams.
The Finnish Girl is a prequel to the 1980s romance, The Englishman, and tells the story of Kaisa before she meets her handsome English Navy Officer.
The Finnish Girl, a Nordic romance, will be out April 15th 2016.

The novella can be preordered from [link:] now!


About the author, Helena Halme

Helena Halme grew up in Tampere, central Finland, and moved to the UK via Stockholm and Helsinki at the age of 22. She is a former BBC journalist. She has also worked as a magazine editor and a bookseller and, until recently, ran a Finnish/British cultural association in London.

Since gaining an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, Helena has published four novels, The Englishman, The Navy Wife, Coffee and Vodka, and The Red King of Helsinki. Her novella, a prequel to The Englishman, The Finnish Girl will out in April 2016. She is working on the final novel in The Englishman trilogy.

Helena lives in North London with her ex-Navy husband and an old stubborn terrier, called Jerry. She loves Nordic Noir and sings along to Abba songs when no one is around.

You can find out more about Helena and read her blog at, where you can also sign up for her Newsletter and Helena’s Review Crew.

Connect with Helena online:
Twitter: @helenahalme



Creative Submissions


If You Must Fall
Don Hagelberg

If you must fall, fall upon a comforter.
Because those behind drug-bars bleed broke and dead.
Cry out your hope for the tattered prisoners.

Those strung-out excavate their graves, disinter.
They could do nothing less than life-shed, backward,
If you must fall, fall upon a comforter.

Un-drugged clans rule by law and officers.
Their genes keep their children in the austerity of pure beds.
Cry out your hope for the tattered prisoners.

Drunken men, who swear and urinate luster,
halt mid-stream, partial watersheds, and say instead,
“If you must fall, fall upon a comforter.”

Still-born by swallowed alcohol, they transfer
the prayer-step mocked to the one pled.
Cry out your hope for the tattered prisoners.

You, who have the drunken mirror of false belief,
do I reflect your sober wish there, unsaid?
If you must fall, fall upon a comforter.

Cry out your hope for the tattered prisoners.



Breakfast Volcanology
Jim Heikkinen

The egg has lava, she says
carving vents into the overeasy dome.

Bright yellow flow moves up her raised butter knife
which she licks attentively, then hungrily. 

Before a yoke sill can devlop along a wheat toast block
both are suddenly lifted into the space between.

White mums held in a simple jar,
water growing milky green.


The Present: En Dikt Inne
Minne Av Injmar Bergman

Don Hagelberg

As I do what I do,
what I do
pulls me through
from the present into
the future as this word
flows from the edge
of contained ink into
the surface of
the becoming page,
satisfying the urge
to mean something
which I both choose
and which also hides
unknown in the verge.


 Another Beautiful Day in the Kingdom

Jim Heikkinen

Billboards here offer welcome distraction to scenery that           appears
bulldozed but actually is quite natural.
Matted garbage and blowing litter serve the function of
          keeping the dust down—
the relentless dust the consistency of talc mixed
with a thousand years of filth, bacteria and ancient fecal
Half–buried tires are formed into circular desert formations
          for no reason.
Hacking up phlegm eventually becomes a salute of
         comradery .
During the afternoon  bus commute, highway traffic was
         backed up
due to a double bed truck that had jack knifed spilling white
the shape of large prettified watermelons over four lanes.

You instantly regret not freezing an image like everyone
        else but soon forget why.
The scene provided a salutary relief
 from sitting yet once again on the company bus
 staring at the hands while trying to ignore
the drone or whine of a white haired expat’s replay of
complaints and futile comparisons to “Back Home”

Pirate John (everyone has a nickname)  perches clip on
 sun shades inside his prescription lenses
and wears his watch strapped tightly to the outside
 of a windbreaker he wears year-round even
when the temperature  breaks 125 degrees in the pointless
A new compound wall collapsed soon after the final strands
 of barbed wire were strung by worn down Paki workers
 clad in sun blasted Punjabis and cracked sandals or sockless
 who may or may not resume rebuilding in a few days or
or whatever … In Sh’Allah*
The windy season you feel first in your throat then inside your skull
is starting…
it may even rain a few

 * (if Allah wills")


How Could It Happen?

Kaarina Brooks

 How did it happen?
As I cooked in my kitchen
and happily sang to my African Violets,
I didn’t see the noxious liquid
seeping slowly into our marriage,
cunningly corroding the core,
until the the whole thing just…
 fell apart!

As I picked raspberries
and, singing, weeded the garden,
I didn’t notice that our marriage,
teetered precariously on the wall,
and was slowly starting to topple,
til it fell and broke apart
and couldn’t be put together again.
And I still don't know
how it happened.

The Golden Cuckoos
A Kalevala Folktale

 Hazel Lauttamus Birt
Translator and Illustrator

Once long ago there lived a very powerful old shaman named Vänämöinen who wanted to marry the young and beautiful Aino. Her mother urged her to accept and so on her wedding day Aino left the farm and went walking by the sea lamenting her fate.

‘Better I were a fish swimming in the ocean than to be married to that old man!’ In her despair Aino cast off her wedding finery. The jewels bestowed on her by her bridegroom she threw into the water to sparkle like jewels in the bottom of the sea. Aino dived into the sea and promptly turned onto a silver fish.

Word quickly spread through the forest among the animals.

‘Someone must go and tell the bride’s mother!’

‘Let the Bear bring the word.’ But the bear disappeared into a herd of cows.

‘Who is to bring the word?’ the animals pondered.

‘Let the Fox bring the word.’ But he disappeared into a flock of geese.

The Golden Cuckoos Woodcut Print
by Hazel Lauttamus Birt
‘Let the Hare bring the word.’And the Hare said,

‘The Hare won’t disappear among men. I will go!’

The Hare set out, long ears flapping, bandy legs running, hare lips quivering to bring the news to the farm. The Hare ran to the Sauna and crouched on the threshold. The young girls came to the door whisks in hand. They joked with him:

‘Did you come, Squint-eyes to be boiled or roasted for supper?’

‘I set out to bring the word. The beautiful young Aino has drowned. She with the silver cross on her chest has changed into a fish and is even now swimming with the whitefish of the ocean.’

On hearing the word that her lovely daughter was dead the mother began to lament and weep.

‘Oh what a great wrong I have done forcing her into that marriage!’

Her tears fell from her blue eyes onto her cheeks.

Tears fell on her breasts and unto her fine skirt unto the red tops of her stockings and onto her lovely shoes.

Soon tears covered the ground and began to flow like a river. In no time the tears had formed three rivers. In each river there grew three rapids and in the foam rose three birch trees. On each birch tree three golden cuckoos were lamenting.

            One Golden cuckoo called,  ‘Dear Love! Dear Love!’

            The second Golden cuckoo called, ‘Suitor! Suitor!’

            The third Golden Cuckoo called, ‘Joy! Joy!’

The first cuckoo called ‘Dear Love! Dear Love!’ for three months for the love girl in the bottom of the sea.

The second cuckoo called, ‘Suitor! Suitor’ for the one who was to marry.

The third cuckoo called ‘Joy! Joy!’ for ever to the joyless mother who was forever weeping.

Spring Letter 2015

Lauri Anderson (or Laurie)     

Some people drift without going anywhere or doing anything.  Changing circumstances toss such people nowhere at all.  I sit in my chair, stained and often wet from the damned dog.  I try to watch the news but there isn’t any because this is contemporary America.  We all get trumped 24/7 unless we’re cruising with Cruz and his ignorant whores and lackeys.  The rest of the world only exists on the BBC, CBC, and NPR and it too is swinging to the right—freedom in danger everywhere from demagogues, would-be dictators and narcissistic certainties.  Europe is drowning under the flow of George Bush’s Middle Eastern refugees.  Even in France the National Front and Marine LePen are gaining neo-Nazi converts.  So I sit and read my magazines—The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Archaeology, Astronomy, Friends of Nigeria, DownEast, Discover, Time.  I have stopped reading literature and no longer write.  I love real writers and they are my friends but are generally long dead…dead.  I loathe fake writers, the millions of self-published, rarely read egos who push themselves onto the rest of us.  In April when I do a reading, they will be there—poets who have not read the great poets and who have never bought a book of poetry; novelists who have only read middle-school fantasies about zombies, vampires, and apocalypses—Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight.

       I haven’t met anyone new and worth knowing in a bar or mall, Hancock, the Copper Country, Michigan, or the lower 48.  I did meet a botanist from north of Fairbanks.  He likes my books and stopped in for Turkish coffee, pie, and conversation.  A woman journalist from France interviewed me for 3.5 hours in my kitchen.  Her husband is France’s Ambassador to South Sudan.  A young Finnish guy interviewed me for 2.5 hours.  He and she both received pie and Turkish coffee.   

        But I still cook.  Recently I’ve eaten oyster stew; traditional State of Maine beans with molasses, dry mustard, and salt pork; Cornish hens in an orange sauce; Finnish cold beet salad with chopped apple, chopped beets and potatoes, pickled herring, raw green onion, sour cream.  But there is no one to eat it.  Lucy is living with me but she is on a meatless diet.  2.5-year-old Arvid is full and done after the equivalent of three adult bites of something.  In a couple of months Lucy will be married and they will be gone and I’ll still be in my chair.  For three weeks in May Lucy will be in Finland as a Paloheimo scholar.  The scholarship covers her expenses.  Yes, I take saunas at Finlandia but all sports are in the past.  I have a cane.  My hip has been replaced.  My guts have been shortened—the cancerous section cut out and tossed into a hospital’s version of a landfill. 

       I used to know people but they’ve all disappeared into (or maybe under) the ether.  Karen has disappeared into the United States or whatever it’s called on the other end of the five-mile-long Mackinac Bridge.  Kristen has become a recluse.  John is frequently ill.  Dan putters.  Etc.  Old friends (literally OLD) have disappeared into their own chairs.  Only Timo Koskinen is still around.  So I’ve become my uncle who lived in the pantry—who attacked visitors with a pitchfork and Finnish.  I only listen to classic country music about death, damnation, misery, pain, suffering, and divorce.  I don’t like today’s electronic and digitized music made up of a lot of noise while someone soundlessly sings into a mike, unheard, already buried, but noticed.  I still teach a class or two.  Right now I teach the Art of Film.  The seven students and I watch a film on Tuesday and discuss it on Wednesday.  I paid my taxes, so part of me is still alive.  Why?  The Milky Way has 200,000,000,000 suns and there are 100,000,000,000 known galaxies, each the size of the Milky Way or larger.  So who are you?  Billions of neutrinos pass through each of us every fraction of a second.  We are mostly empty space.  So who am I?  Aye.  Ai! 

       In the summer I shall go fishing in northern Maine in Lost Bog, so lost that even the locals do not know it’s there, hidden off a long-unused railroad track right in the town where I grew up, a town that has become a ghost.  The town and the unseen bog are an existential kind of place, a perpetual mystery, a was and is and maybe.  Want to join me?  I may not be there when I’m there.  There may not be a there there.  Bye.  Au revoir.

       Today is Good Friday, the day Jesus was knocked off by Roman right wingers.  Nothing much changes, does it?  Yadeyadeyade.  To madala.  Alla ya kai mu.  What does it mean to be a poacher, professor and PCV with a cane?


‘Cock-A-Doodle Done!’ 

Opens Cage Doors for Business 

Charles Peltosalo

Veteran Lowcountry shredding and breakdown expert Bridger P., a 25 year old Moluccan cockatoo hailing from Hilton Head’s South Beach has announced the opening of his document disposal/ wood-splintering service in uptown Grahamville. “Get it, got it, done!”-reads his business card. “Sensitive materials personally handled by bonded owner.”

 “Depending on the customer’s needs, I work a 3-corner system in my workspace where I can either shred, crunch, or mulch material”, stated the self-described ‘one-man wrecking crew.’

 “In the Southern corner, all documents fed ‘above the grate’ of this cage will be shredded beyond recognition by my rapid razor beak and stiletto claws by close of business each day. These can be disposed of securely on-site or moved ‘below the grate’ on the Northern side to be further processed into organic mulch and compost. Here below Bridger’s feeding station, fruit and vegetable by-products liberally sprinkled with water and cockatoo metabolites become valuable soil booster popularly used in organic gardens throughout the region. This composting requires a 3-day turnaround for a mature product packaged by the bag.”

 “I do major wood-crunching, I call it ‘working the blocks’, in the Southwest corner of my enclosure. My signature ‘rainbow-picks’ are the result of reducing colorful hanging block-knots there down to their smallest multi-colored components I can manage. These are ideal for sticking appetizers, binding BLT’s, or gigging canapés. These can also be packaged into bundles for festive holiday lightwood and tinder. There is a 2-day turnaround for certain specialty woods, but so far, everyone applauds the product.”

 “It’s like a sawmill in there when he gets going”, said one customer while he waited for his custom bundle of picks and tinder and bag of ‘secret mulch’, “Not only are my confidential documents indecipherable, but their final mulching makes them nearly untouchable. But you should see my tomatoes!”


To Whom It May Concern: Memorandum

found posted on refrigerator door 12Feb2016

Charles Peltosalo

 Now that I’ve reached 16 human years of age, only surpassed by the 30 years of Raja the parakeet, it saddens me to remind everyone of some basic rules of courtesy around here. I suspect much of this need arises because of my poor hearing, weaker eyesight, and slower movement; in a word, my inability to swiftly bite or bark to enforce my space. A word to the wise: don’t test me!

 Also, let me state categorically to any humans that I will not willingly submit to any grooming, bathing, pilling, or any other medical procedure. I’ve had it, especially after the last dental episode. At least you guys get crowns and implants to keep your tongue in your mouth.

 I appreciate the cats who thoughtfully steer around me most times except when they are high on catnip and leap over or race by me. It used to just take a well-pitched growl to remind folks, but now I guess an editorial is my last resort.

  Darla the dingo has the rules down for the most part though she could give way to an older gent at the door and not race out to the yard like a teenager at recess. And if she would please not hover around my food bowl as much after she’s inhaled her meal. I’ve kept trim through the years, which is something she might consider next time she ponders her stout butt in the mirror.

  I want to thank Raja the parakeet for allowing me passage through my own house whenever she is out of her cage without all the swooping and biting the cockatoo rudely clings to. It’s such a dumb production that I figure it is its’ own punishment, looking all overdone and foolish. But no! He persists and one of these days when Bridger thinks he’s caught me unawares, he’ll be the one getting the nip!

  I have to say the food is spectacular: steak or rotisserie chicken at every meal with plenty of ham snacks in between. I think I speak for everyone when I say:”Well done!” Or at least, ‘medium rare.’

  The valet service at the door is as superb as ever and my half of the bed is as comfortable as I would ever want. I just wanted to remind everyone that life around here runs pretty smoothly, but that a little bit of consideration from everyone could make it even better. 
Your Shih-Tzu Housemate, Babe