#TeamLouhi and #Suomi100: together at last!

It is the centenary of Finnish independence on 6.12.2017, i.e. #Suomi100. I have lived in Australia now for eighteen years, and Independence Day often passes by without me particularly noticing, given it is really just a normal day here. This time, however, was different – not just because of the round numbers, but because the Finnish community has become a lot more active and organised over the past couple of  years. The organisers behind the Finnish School and Finnish Church in Perth have reinvigorated the Finnish community, which meant they were able to put together the kind of celebration that would have been inconceivable only a few years ago. There were about 160 people in attendance, the students of the Finnish school performed, and there was a surprising number of people wearing national dress, which was really lovely [read more about that particular tradition, and the background of my own neo-folk (?) version here].

Sanna Peden performing a Kalevala-inspired poem. Photo by Mika Thwaites.

Me, poeming, in an interpretation of the traditional dress of my home town, Hollola. Photo by Mika Thwaites.

I was invited to provide some of the entertainment for the event, in the form of something suitably Kalevala-inspired (two days earlier I was a support act at an experimental anarcho-punk gig, so if nothing else I’ve got range).

I decided to go for an intermingling of a Team Louhi translation and an original Finnish poem about expat life in Australia, written largely in the Kalevala meter, to cover the extremes of the language spectrum as well as my own interest in playing around with tradition and form.

I had a few requests to put the text up online, so here it is.  On the left is my translation of Poem 1: The Creation of the World from the Kalevala, and it is intended to be read in sections, alternating with the Finnish stanzas on the right.  I have enormous trepidations about releasing the text of performance pieces because theatricality covers for a whole range of lyrical ills, so with that caveat in mind…

1.

you and I such long-lost bothers
siblings long-since sea-span parted
joined this day like time had not passed
as though lived our dearest elders
like our mothers still could sing us
fathers could in daily labours
teach us trochees, metres, iambs
when fell feet and flowed our free verse
telling legends everlasting:
heroes, treasure, golden agesfurther topics, songs and poems
sprung from silence, born from cold thoughts
versing with our cheepskate cousins
off our own steam lyrics riddled
all alone sought sonnets, lim’ricks
lone in night-time, lone in day light
lone as was born ancient Väinö
from the world’s first mother figure
chaste and precious dearest Airlet
niin on nousit näille maille
kotikankailta katosit
etelämmäs eläiksesi
Pöötin pitkille kesille
vähäisille vesikelille

ystävät ehkä ymmärsiki
vanhemmat ei vastustellu
muutamat mummot kummastui
setäihmiset sävähti,
maitojunasta mainitsi

annoit epäilyjen olla
ennenki maailmaa kaluttu
eikä passi paljon paina

jossain tuolla maailman yllä
pähkinäpakkaukset panttasit
kuumat pyyhkeet käsittelit
pikkuvessat pärjäilit
aina maan kamaralla
laturipaikoista taistelit
kasvoskannereihin katsahdit

ensin lensit Singaporeen
ja Hong Kongin hotelleihin
Shanghain hallienkin halki
Emiraatit esiriippuna
välilaskuina vähäisinä

2.

long were days of lonely living
uneventful, dull and quiet
even for that airborn goddess:
Airlet, Ilma, everlastingso descended into deep seas
seeking something from the seafoam
but the meanest of the old winds
interfered in Ilma’s swimming
called a storm to stir the seafoam:
waves were woken, ocean swollenIlmatar felt something stirring:
womb now woken, stomach swollen!
heavy with her body’s burden
– Ilma, woman, weary, wombful –
year on year on waiting, yearning
gods declining aid deliv’ry
tulit punaista linjaa pitkin
kaikki laukut auottuna
aikaerot valvottuna
g’dayt varoiksi harjottuna:

“Have you been in contact with farms, farm animals, wilderness areas or freshwater streams/lakes in the past 30 days?”

no siis Suomihan on tuhansien järvien maa ja Helsingissäkin on metsää ja kukapa sitä ei läksiäisnavetassa kävis ku serkut järjestää ja siis koko maahan varsinaisesti kaupunkilaistui vasta viisikymmentäluvun jälkeen, eli riippuu vähän mitä tällä wildernessillä niinku haetaan —

“No. No I haven’t. Thank you.”

jäi rajalle ruisleivät
kuksia tovi tutkittiin
tervashampoot selittelit
taksijonoon tapustelit

3.

diving duckling, aythya, equal
searching for some place for nesting
spies the knee-crease of dear Airlet,
Ilma, woman, almost-mother:
duck lays eggs now on this new isle:
six were golden, seventh ironon the third day, end of nesting
shifted Ilma, moved the woman
eggs slipped downward, shells fell waveward
from these splinters sprung forth all things
yolk made daylight, white made moon beams
splintered shell made earth, made heavenundelivered still is Ilma
burning in her body’s torments
every movement making more earth
molding features, bays and islets
kuumat on kyllin oltavat
ilma kuin pyyhkeellä lyötynä
sitä sopii saivarrella
pienis pikkukahviloissa
hienoill’ rantahietikolla

kannattaa muuten lähettää viiniristeilyotokset ja delfiiniselfiet sukulaisille, varsinkin näin syksyllä ja talvella, kato että joku niitäki lämmittäisi…

(sitte ku sisko piruuttaan kertoo ex tempore- viikonloppukeikasta Pariisiin, niin ollaan jotensakin tasoissa)

joka ongelma oiottu
alkutankerot paettu
kielikylvystä selvitty
“bring a plate” tarkoittaa ruokaa
“half one” onkin puoli kaksi
“how’re you?” ei vastausta vaadi
kaupantätien hempeilyyn
kaikenlaiseen lepertelyyn
tottuu, oppii odottamaan
darling, sweetheart, love
dya need a bag?

4.

Väinämöinen, sage still unborn
carried now for years too many
thirty summers, thirty winters
thirty passings of each season
spoke some true words, wanted birthing
prayed to sun light, prayed to moon beam
neither shifted, neither aidedso did Väinö stretch his own hand
thrust his digits, toes did offer
unlocked bone gate, left his womb nook
freeing Ilma, mother nature
in this long-delayed deliv’rysage eternal floated freely
five six seven years he floated
washed on island tree-bare, barren:
here he stood, our Väinämöinen
spotting moon and spying starlight
daylight ever after shining
so was born old Väinämöinen
ancient sage of air-born Ilma
välillä mieleen välähtää
ummehtunut kesämökki
Me Naiset ja niksipirkat
sauna!
juhannuksen tihkusade
pääsiäiskokko
Pikku Kakkonen
Oulun Siika on Pyhä Kala
kanttarellikastike
Oltermannijuusto
rahka
vadelmapensaat
uudet perunat
tuplat ja lakrisalit
lihapiirakat
lenkkimakkarat
karjalanpiirakat
ruuneperintortut
laskiaispullat
omarit ja kettukarkit
karviaiset ja jokamiehenoikeudet
tippaleivät
Valion jäätelötiiliskivet

Arvi Lind on eläkkeellä
Spede on kuollut
Katri Helena keikkailee vieläkin
Ja me voitettiin euroviisut!
Yli kymmenen vuotta sitten
mutta hei, den glider in soi korvissa vieläkin ja siitä on jo yli kaksikymmentä vuotta

uudet maat on tutuks tulleet
sitruunapuutkin sinuiksi
näin kai jäitkin näille maille
aurinkoisille aukeille

Hyvää itsenäisyyspäivää!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s