Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The FinNALA Newsletter

Volume 10, No. 1
Publication of the Finnish North American Literature Association

© March 7, 2017

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

It’s time to Subscribe/Renew your Membership for 2017 in theFinnish 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 2017 is   $20.00 US (Membership may be combined with contest entry--see below)

 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 Rd, L'Anse, MI 49946  USA


·         Use your credit card for online payment.
     o   Visit us at www.finnala.com
     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.


Kippis! Creative Writing Contest

Entry Fee is $20
       1st Prize $250, 2nd Prize $100, 3rd Prize $50

Genres include fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Prose submissions should not exceed 3,000 words, and poetry submissions should be no more than 3 poems for a total of no more than eight pages.

  • Winners will be published in Kippis! 2017 paper Edition. both online and in hardcopy.
  • Winners will be recognized at FinnFestUSA 2017 in  Minneapolis, Minnesota, but need not plan to attend.
  • Prizes: First place $250, Second place $100; Third place $50 US
  • 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place winners receive 5 paper copies of the issue.
  • Submission deadline: June 30, 2017
  • Electronic submission required to gkwuori_at_hotmail_dot_com
  • Multiple submissions are allowed with entry fee for each submission
  • Previously published work not accepted
  • Judging done by the Kippis! editorial team

Join and/or enter the contest by one of two methods:

Method 1: Use PayPal here and email submissions to gkwuori_at_hotmail_dot_com

Method 2: Use Mail to Submit Payment and email submissions to  gkwuori_at_hotmail_dot_com           

          For membership only, send $20.00 US
          For contest entry only, send $20.00 US
          For membership and contest, send $30.00 US

          Make check or money order payable to  "FinNALA" and send by mail to

                 Beth Virtanen, President, FinNALA
                 931 Bayshore Rd., L'Anse, MI 49946

Deadline for Kippis! submissions (contest entries & non-entry submissions) is June 30, 2017. Once payment is received and verified, entries will be sent forward for judging.

Non-contest submissions are also welcome. Become a member and send your submissions to gkwuori_at_hotmail_dot_com.


FinNALA to Coordinate Readings at FinnFest USA 2017 in Minneapolis

FinNALA is coordinating three public reading events by authors, poets and other creative writers at FinnFest USA 2017 in Minneapolis from September 21 to 24. If you are going and would like to read your work at this event, do contact Beth Virtanen, President, FinNALA, at blvirtanen_at_gmail_dot_com.

There will be reading opportunities on Friday (22nd), Saturday (23rd), and Sunday (24th). In your email indicate the title and genre of the work from which you would like to read. Also provide a short biography along with a recent publication history by April 1, 2017.

Once a pool of interested authors and poets is amassed, readers will be selected and scheduled in the available times. Readers will be notified by email and will need to confirm attendance in order to reserve their reading time.  


 Donna Salli has a new book in print: A Notion of Pelicans

On a windblown bluff above Lake Superior sits a fieldstone church. Founded one hundred years ago after a puzzling encounter with a flock of pelicans leaves Lavinia with a curious notion, Pelican Church still draws inquisitive souls to its pews with the legend that one solitary bird still circles overhead, watching. These people have notions of their own -- a pastor’s wife wants a honeymoon, a professor has harebrained ideas, a business owner is in everyone’s face, a young actress can do or be anything onstage yet struggles with every real-life decision -- and their stories, tucked away for years, unfold and glide onto the pages of Donna Salli's intimate debut novel. The people of Pelican Church
are oh-so-human and expose their mix of shifting hopes and obsessions, protected infidelities, and notions gone awry as one October day swings from sun-up to sundown under the watchful gaze of a single pelican.

Donna Salli

Author bio: Donna Salli is a fiction writer, poet, essayist, and playwright. She was born and raised in Michigan, along the shores of Lake Superior, and holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She taught college-level English for 24 years. In 2000, she received a Mentor Series Award in Poetry from the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, MN. In 2012, she was invited to the Great Plains Theatre Conference, where her play "The Rock Farm" received a staged reading and panel critique as part of PlayLab.

The work, available at Amazon, is published by North Star Press of St. Cloud. Find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Notion-Pelicans-Donna-Salli/dp/168201035X/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488910399&sr=1-4&keywords=salli --


Burt Rairamo has a new book in print: In the Shadows of a Gas Plant

28-year-old Richard Starr’s dream has become a reality. He has been hired
as Plant Superintendent of one of Brook’s Gas Company’s cylinder filling facilities. He recognises he has much to learn in this new industry, but he is determined to give it his all and succeed. As Starr struggles to master his job, he is being challenged at every turn by his staff and his superiors for being an outsider. He quickly learns that he has inherited a mess, one he is expected to clean up. When one of his employees is found dead under suspicious circumstances, he realizes that the plant problems run much
deeper than he ever imagined. He needs every ounce of his courage and determination to survive.

In the Shadows of a Gas Plant is a thrilling drama told by an industry insider who has seen it all. With unexpected twists, heart-wrenching conflicts, rich characters, humorous episodes, and compelling relationships and romance, the novel offers a rich and unique take on the industry and the people who work within it.

Burt Rairamo

Born in Finland, Burt Rairamo immigrated to Toronto as a teenager. He graduated with a Gas Engineering Technology Diploma from Ryerson
Institute of Technology, and an Honors Bachelor of Arts Degree from University of Toronto. He worked in the industrial and medical gas industry for over 30 years as Operations Manager, and finally as General Manager and Vice President. Later on in his career, he began writing poetry and short stories.
He has been published in literary magazines such as Toronto Quarterly
and anthologies such as Every Heart has Feelings, and Connecting Souls.
Finnish Voices in North America. This is his debut novel. 

You can get a copy of Burt's book from Friesen Press here: http://www.friesenpress.com/bookstore/title/119734000034108047/Burt-Rairamo-In-the-Shadows-of-a-Gas-Plant 


Yasu's Quest: A Tale of Triumph

Diane Dettmann

Outskirts Press (2016)
ISBN 9781478755791

Reviewed by Ben Green for Reader Views
“Yasu's Quest: A Tale of Triumph” by Diane Dettmann follows Yasu on her adventures as she escapes the U.S. internment camps of World War II and flees across the U.S. as a fugitive. It is not only a great coming of age story but more importantly brings to life a part of U.S. history often glossed over in history books. It is both a sequel and conclusion to Diane Dettmann's earlier work, 

“Courageous Footsteps.” I must admit I haven't read “Courageous Footsteps” but “Yasu's Quest” is written in such a way that you can enjoy it as a standalone novel if you like. Although after reading “Yasu's Quest,” you may want to consider simply reading both.
The writing style is simple enough that even the youngest of young adult readers will be able to enjoy it, but it is complex and deep enough to be enjoyed by any age. “Yasu's Quest” does exactly what historical fiction should do in that it raises meaningful issues while simultaneously staying historically accurate. More importantly, this book brings to light real history in a compelling way making it accessible to readers of all ages. Any young readers interested in or currently studying the events of World War II should consider reading “Yasu's Quest” as a way to get a perspective on an often-overlooked part of U.S. history.

Diane Dettmann
The story itself is both entertaining and inspiring. Yasu's character is likable from the beginning and you constantly feel both her fear and courage as she struggles against an unfair system that has deemed her and her family as guilty and treated as criminals, regardless of whether or not they are actually guilty. “Yasu's Quest” is a testament to the human spirit, the best and worst America has had to offer, and to the American citizens unjustly imprisoned during the 1940s.

It is rare for a piece of historical fiction to be so relevant to today's society, especially when written for a young adult audience. “Yasu's Quest” does not only that, but it also provides a well-written adventure story that also introduces readers to a very dark part of American history.

 “Yasu's Quest: A Tale of Triumph” is a written triumph. There is no better way to describe a book that functions well on so many levels and be so meaningful. This really is a well-done piece that I think will entertain and inform its readers. If you are considering a historical fiction title to read this is definitely the one. I give “Yasu's Quest: A Tale of Triumph” by Diane Dettmann five out of five stars. The only caveat here is that, as I already mentioned, this is clearly a YA title.

Author Diane Dettman's Bio: Diane Dettmann is the author of award-winning Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel. She has also published two memoirs, Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal, and Miriam Daughter of Finnish Immigrants. Diane is a contributing author for the national Women’s Voices for Change organization in New York City and is currently working on the sequel to Yasu's Quest. For more information go to Diane's website at http://www.outskirtspress.com/yasu.

How To Keep In Touch With Fine, Fine Finland?

By Don Hagelberg
Going to Finland is the only way to keep in touch with what is there.  No other answer to such a question! Dumb guy who asked that question, by gar. And you, dear reader, and I can go right now by "clicking" onto: http://www.freemagazine.fi, so that we can take a look at the free online magazine from Finland, "Free."

Each collected issue of "Free" contains articles in English which we, poor undisciplined outliers can understand with a little effort.

"Photo articles," "Poems," "Short Stories," Straight out articles."  Wait and watch your hungry eyes eat the article alive. A video portraying the celebration of New Years Day in 2017?  It waits for you. 

Do you deserve all of the goodness inside the "Free" magazine?  Take some time and read and watch in all the way through.

Finnish News from South Florida!

By Elsie Jaehn

Following are excerpts taken from the February 23 edition of the Coastal/Greenacres Observer that serves local towns in Palm Beach County which may be of interest to Finnish-Americans nationwide:
In mid-February, Boynton Beach Mayor, Steven Grant, formally announced the establishment of a Sister City relationship with Rauma, Finland.

The Speaker of the Eduskunta, the Parliament of Finland, Maria Lohela, was at the ceremony on February 17 to accept the Sister City Proclamation from Mayor Grant.  Finland, which is celebrating its centennial this year, has one of the most successful education systems in the world.  It is a high-tech country which is known for building many of the luxury cruise ships based in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, said Esa Jokela, President of the Finnish American Chamber of commerce. 

Finnish-Americans have had a significant role in the development of Palm Beach County.  There are more people of Finnish descent in this area than anywhere else in the United States, says Peter Makila, the Honorary Consul of Finland in Palm Beach County.  Also attending the ceremony was Ambassador Manu Virtamo, Consul General of Finland, who flew in from New York for the occasion.

“Sister Cities can learn a lot from each other,” says Mayor Grant.  “I'm looking forward to going to Finland and meeting my counterpart in Rauma, Mayor Kari Koski.  One of my goals is to set up a pen-pal program for the 21st century.  Rauma is the third oldest city in Finland so there's a lot of history but also plenty of modern thinking.  For example, I'll be in Rauma during the Electronic
Music Festival in June.  As the birthplace of Darude, the Finnish musical genius behind platinum-selling hit single “Sandstorm”, it's understandable that the Finns love electronic music.”

President Eisenhower championed the concept of Sister Cities in 1956, when he envisioned that fostering bonds between people from different communities around the world would create a path for peace and prosperity.  Sixty-one years later, thanks to Mayor Grant, Boynton Beach is paving the way.  Only two other communities in Palm Beach County have Sister Cities in Finland – Lake Worth, which has such a relationship with Lappeenranta and Lantana whose Sister City is Lapua.

We will keep you posted on the latest news from our area of the country from time to time and wish all  readers of this newsletter a wonderful summer ahead whether you are staying here in the United States or are visiting relatives back in Finland. 

Creative Submissions

72 Trips Around the Sun

By Gary Anderson

It’s whisper time,
after daylight, before sunrise,
when birds with the largest eyes sing first.
You meditate in silence, listen for
gaps in sound and thought.
From this perch, above Camp Creek Canyon,
you imagine Chief Joseph’s horses, women in
blankets.  Your eyes move along their route and
you realize you are not the first to cry here.

Then -- the drone of a small plane barely visible in
skyfeathers brings you back to a glorious
September morning in Michigan. 
You are in the rear seat of a four-seat Cessna
over Hemingway’s Big Two-Hearted River
when a voice from the Minneapolis Tower says,
“For the three commercial jets scheduled to land in
Minneapolis, either land at Sawyer Field in Marquette or
you will be shot out of the sky.”

You remind yourself that you are safe here and return to
you own familiar verse from long ago,
“...a bird with the ability to sing more than one song
has a greater chance of survival.”

You are back to the Zumwalt Prairie where a white horse
rises out of Monument Pasture and
finds his way to your perch. 
How does he always know where to find you?


By Anita Erola


My sister knits me colorful socks
of summer soup
with early peas and young carrots
of cranberry pudding
of lilies of the valley
heather and cornflowers
of cloudless skies.

Knit during long Nordic nights
under northern lights
the aurora borealis
dancing electric lights
needles dance
weaving warmth.

Under summer’s midnight sun
by azure lakeside
with birch trees
and wild strawberries with milk
of gooseberries and currants.

Loons calling across a lake’s stillness
calling me to return
like the swallows
that know their way back
to the fragrance of pine trees
and moss on granite boulders
to grandmother’s summer cottage lakeside
and pancakes with strawberry jam.


Siskoni kutoo minulle värikkäitä sukkia
varhaisherneista ja porkkanoista
kanesvasta ja ruiskukista
ja pivettömästä taivaasta.

Kudottu pitkinä pohjoisöinä
aurora borealis
tanssivien sähkövalojen alla
puikot tanssivat
kutoen lämmintä.

Kesän keskiyön alla
taivaansinisen järven äärellä
villimansikoista maidon kanssa
karviaisista ja viinimarjoista.

Kuikat kutsuvat järven hiljaisuuden takaa
kutsuvat minua takaisin
niinkuin pääskysiä
jotka osaavat palata
petäjän tuoksuun
ja sammalpeitteisen graniittikallion päälle
isoäidin kesämökille järven ääreen
ja pannukakuille mansikkahillon kanssa.

We immigrated from Finland 60 years ago               

By Eero Sorila

It was bitterly cold in Vilppula Finland during the winter of 1957, when our family of eight left by train for Helsinki. Our neighbours and the villagers wondered about the purpose of our trip, and of all things why in the middle of winter. It was a private matter and our parents did not blow their horn about it.  We children followed confidently where we were led. The child's will was in his father's pocket.  It was exciting to travel by train. The destination wasn't important.

Very often  the best part of travel is the journey itself. Arrival at the destination may prove to be a disappointment. After our arrival in Helsinki, on the top floor of a stone building, the bubble burst. Father announced with determination, "We are here for a medical check-up before moving to Canada." For me, the 12 year old, first-born of our family, the news was catastrophic, surely a disappointment. I turned towards the window and gazed down at the Old Church park. Bitter tears streamed down my cheeks.  At that moment I realized I was leaving all my friends and my native land forever.   These desperate thoughts kept hammering inside my head. 

Photo from the Sorila Family Album

Can’t breathe

In Reykjavik, Iceland we fuelled the plane. Our next stop was Gander, Newfoundland. It was bitterly cold, with a freezing wind. We had to walk a long way to the airport restaurant for breakfast. During the walk, my four year old brother, Asko, tugged at my mother's skirt and shouted,” help ! I can't breathe!" A strange drink was served with the meal. It was a glassful of awful-tasting tomato juice. We had never even seen such drink in Finland. Next, we were supposed to land in Toronto, but a dense fog prevented us. Instead we landed in Buffalo U.S.A and from there took a Greyhound bus to Toronto. The airline put us up overnight in the luxurious Royal York Hotel.  The food and service were first-class,  but we immigrants were dead tired. All we wanted to do was sleep.  

We landed at Sudbury airport on April 4th 1957. On the way to this nickel mining city of 40,000 we had time to look at the landscapes of our new homeland. Imitation brick  made of tar paper covered the houses.  TV antennas stuck up from the roofs looking like a jumble of rakes. Very few people had even seen a television in Finland at that time. Snow failed to cover up the lifeless austerity. Each flake melted against the black rocks like butter in a frying pan. Mining has started there in 1886. For decades the nickel-ore smelters had spewed pollution into the air,  killing plant life in the surrounding area.  Hence the bare, black rocks.

The journey itself seemed to have been the true adventure, best part of our new experience. 
In Finland I had been in the fourth grade.  In Canada I was put back to grade one.  I was a head taller than the others, but helpless as a baby who couldn't speak.

Chicken coop home
Our first rental home was an upstairs suite in an old house with only two small rooms for a family of eight.

It was scorching hot like an oven on summer days.
Father's dream was to build a house for the family. He bought a lot on St. Charles Lake Road. During constructon, we rented a place right beside our lot, from a kind Italian neighbour. It was a "remodelled" chicken coop, but the location was perfect for us. There was no more clucking of hens, instead frogs held evening concerts. 

Sickness and caring
Father worked around the clock in the evenings and on Saturdays building the house. His health broke down under such a heavy workload and was hospitalised for six months. In addition to maintaining a large family, the cost of building a new home stretched the family budget to its limits. Mother went to work in a bakery. I, as the eldest child in the family, collected pop bottles from ditches and  was paid two cents a piece for them. Many immigrants from Finland had arrived to Canada in the 1950’s.  As Finnish immigrants we all belonged to the same family. We received much love and caring from the members in our Finnish Church. It felt that our immigrant friends  hearts were white in contrast to the surrounding black rocks. The heart of the steel company owner where father had worked was not made of steel either.  While father was sick, a large cardboard box appeared from time to time behind our door. It was a shipment of food from fafther’s former employer.

Life Smiles
After living four years in Sudbury, life began to feel quite comfortable. Father had recovered from his heart ailment. We all got by in English, lived in our own house, and had a roomy American car. It was a 1953 Plymouth.

When I look back over the 60 years of immigrant life in Canada, my heart is filled with gratitude. Even tomato juice tastes good now, and the black rocks of Sudbury have turned green.

Our roots lay deep in the soil of Finland. The country of the northern lights, white midsummer nights and thousands of lakes dererve to be celebrated specifically during this year of Finland’s

100th year of independence.
My brother Asko who shouted “ I can’t breath “ has expressed his feelings about our arrival and life in a new land with the following poem below. 

Eero (Eric) Sorila a history graduate from the University of British Columbia has published a book
of adventure travel around the world. Green Mattress Under the Stars  is available from Xlibris.
Orders. call free: 1-888-795-4274

New Arrivals

By Asko Sorila

Tears:             mixed thoughts with fears family in tow
                        Eight huddled, where do we go?

Fears:             a new country language and culture waiting

                        The hand of our Lord leading

Welcomed:     no relatives yet among a family of believers we stand

                        Fed and housed by helping hands

Family:           new sights style words and phases

                        From tears and fears grow a family of fifty
                        By the grace of God the years now sixty

Thankful:       our experiences won’t ring hollow

                        In turn we welcome all who follow


Nupee’s Names

By Charles Peltosalo

16 Sept. 2016

Ever since I heard of him being the newest member of a relative’s family, his given name never seemed to fit. The backstory was that he was the ‘new pussy’, Nupee for short. It was immediately clear to me that he wasn’t consulted in this choice. Obviously he knew his own real cat-name: our attempts could be close, maybe even a lucky guess .He’d tell me if I was quick enough to hear it. I think I’m homing in on it, but it is as elusive as his intent. However, I can tell he’s entertained by my quest for his catness, stunning Kreskin telepath of a soul that he is.

Such a diffident fellow, his cool and penetrating gaze belies a supreme detachment that misses nothing, an opinionated mirror of the moment. If he were human, I’d say his philosophy was set. Like Gore Vidal, he knows it matters not a whit what others think of him. The only true matter of any consequence is what he thinks of them.

When he changed homes to my place, I could tell he was genuinely amused by my constant bouncing of suitable names off of him. He’s the silver-grey of moon-dust or rain-sheets dropping from dark nimbus towers, each foot cloud-white. His sphinx’s gaze is inset with rock-still peridot eyes; the world in front looks back from those photographic depths. “Cloud” is a near miss by one syllable though it paints his spirit. “Nube”, Spanish for cloud is what seems like an obvious fallback but the sound is as lacking as the original. “Yeats” gained traction for me for several weeks because the lines “cast a cold eye on life, on death” always spring to mind under his gaze, yet the same syllabic deficit sank its’ hopes, too.

The Snow Leopard and the Silver Surfer fit: an ethereal being that trims the sky above tree lines, skims the misty edge. A true shaman of the Siberian old school, some Evenk Tungus Lion-Bird off greyly at sight’s edge, multiply fluent in the tongue of Others.

He romps with abandon with my gnarly shorthair Cochise. “Kesey” is apt because of his vast good humor that swaths a serious mind that knows that ‘art is dangerous’. He gives as good as he gets then breaks to attend each next notion: a true Lord of the Moment, a Shiva or Swami, a Dylan.

It’s those eyes, pale emerald peridots, bottomless and present; no shields or barriers exist for them. Am I in front of them or trapped behind them? They are two tourmaline lasers pressing into my space. That’s why this week he is Ingo, my name for this nameless seer. Mr. Ingo Swann of America, a great clear light, now shed of body and instant present. He could go anywhere and see anything. He taught our nation’s scouts and guards to peer through any walls, to see an enemy’s plans. He made our kind smarter and safer. This seems very close to Nupee’s m.o..

 The constant sparkle in either’s eyes might just be the facets of each gem’s cut or maybe a tamped muting of some starburst at their core. Birds of a feather, their interest is anything, everywhere. Nothing’s remote; all is noted by an unleashed superpower of the biomind. And to be observed by either is to be moved by either. So….what would Ingo name him?