A post in a blog of Nigerian writer Jumoke Verissimo

Come meet Rita Dahl

"I met Rita Dahl in 2006 when she came for the Lagos Book and Arts Festival (LABAF). We have exchanged emails since then, encouraging each other in this lonesome business of ours—writing. She is Finnish, and reading her poetry brought back a theory I have in my head, which is; Nordic literature has a closer affinity to my Yoruba worldview.

I have read little from this region to conclude, but from that which I’ve read, I see a close similarity in the world-view of the Scandinavia and Yoruba. This is a hypothesis after all and I have not done much study to conclude this. In one of her poems, not published below, she writes: “No matter how small a snake is, it can’t be used as belts/A monkey can be caught by one who pretends to be a monkey.”

However, I first made this conclusion after I read Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter, rather self-convincing evidence. Then there was Carina Karlsson’s poetry that seemed soaked in epigrams and shrouded Yoruba philosophy, And Jan Erik Vold’s lyrical poetry convinced me even further…

Anyway, to take myself lightly, I’ve considered my hypothesis a far-fetched desire to see similarity in the worlds, a certain fall-out of creating an inexistent metaphysical thread. Perhaps I’ll make it a project someday and explore these similarities if they indeed exist. Lest I bore you, do enjoy Rita’s poetry…

There is a desire in me

There is a desire in me for nights without night, dawn
breaking, many suns simultaneously
rising, there is a desire for rain, falling
like a veil. There is a desire in me, but
no will, I use simple tools, a voice of hammer and
chisel in the darkest night. As if by hammering
I might try achieving something, a night descending on a dark
wall, runes, a name perhaps.

(From The Enchantment of Thousand Steps, Avain 2007)


A concrete funnel-like construction with nine
entries altogether. Hell means that everything is repeated,

there’s no moving forward. Hell is frozen.
Where do all the fat gourmands go after death?

Hell is loose, a very popular action film,
crystals flooded from miserable souls who grab each other’s hands.

Maybe hell is beautiful after all? Bloody hell!
With the years I have come to the conclusion

that there is no justice in this country.
The doorbell is ringing. There are two

neatly dressed Mormons behind the door.
Hell has frozen on Earth.

Comment section broke at the same time.
Hell in a family or in heaven, where

would you spend your eternity? I have tried to bear
myself and understand why I sigh for the unattainable.

A real hell of anti-capitalists
has let loose. What happens after this?

We sacrificed six bottles, nothing
happens and the broadcast time should be filled.

Remember that heaven is hell for a basic masochist.
Is hell a cold or a warm place?

If hell is full, you have to stand and
wait. What’s the matter with you?

Don’t you know? If hell has frozen,
Finland is the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest.

(Poems are taken from Aforismien aika, PoEsia 2007)

She asked where this road would take us. We were crossing a meadow. Usually we chose another route. She preferred to be lost among the tall buildings that repeated themselves, reflected in the monotonous rows of windows. I had long since become lost. Water lilies fell from her eyes. I absent-mindedly picked them up from the earth behind her. She didn't notice. The sun burned and made her lift the hem of her skirt to fan her face. Trees grew in a moment, rivers ran accidentally into the sea. We were in a palace where she was the queen on her divan, I but one loyal chamber maid. I wanted only to sniff a small slice of the paradise hiding in her hair.


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