Some remarks on Finnish poetry in 21st century

Some remarks on Finnish poetry in 21st century
First some universal truths about poetry that are applicable in any time and place, including Finland in 21st century. Poetry is always inferior to prose in the sense, that it is worse paid, more difficult to publish (and write?) and to find real enthusiasts who appreciate the flame it succeeds to cause in an individual human being. Publishing poetry is not any more “a cultural act” in the eyes of big publishing houses worth of committing in order to show their cultural-mindedness; on the contrary, publishing houses are mostly governed by the laws of commerciality which is destructive – to poetry and to quality literature in general. Entertaining prose is dominating the spring and august catalogues. This is an easy way to adopt in changing trends in literary market in order to maintain the sales in previous levels.
This is not only an ongoing trend in Finnish, but in global publishing houses. However, there are still enthusiastic readers and writers of poetry, even in they remain in the margins from literary publicity. Publishing poetry is mostly taken care of really small publishers, who “burn” for the thing they do. Poesia is one of the most important publishers of contemporary and experimental poetry, and it is run by young poets and poetry activists. Most of the publishers of poetry are organized in the form of co-operatives, which is becoming an extremely trendy way of organizing themselves among poets and poetry enthusiasts.
Intra-poetic discussions
There is always going on an eternal debate about the role of a poet. Either s/he is seen as a genius following the tradition of bohemian, romantic (symbolist) poets like Baudelaire and Rimbaud, whose mental follower our “big poet” Pentti Saarikoski was, or the status of poet is questioned altogether. More theoretically oriented poets, whose background is often in university, have been eager to ponder in an increasing amount the institutional constraints of poetry and poetic production. Teemu Manninen is one of these theorizing poets, who have been thinking e.g. how conditions of production are affecting the status of poetry in publishing houses. It is mainly those guattarian rhizomelike networks, which nowadays more and more take care of the arbitrary process of signification. Manninen has been eager to reveal and rip off different clichés that dominate the discourse about poetry. It is also these conventional ways of speaking about this topic, that remains already a mystery for everybody involved in writing it or about it.
Manninen´s own poetry is based on Google sculpting and traditional poetical forms, like sonnet and even more classical forms.
A popular and constant discussion about poetry deals with its´ relations to other literary genres. In 21st century prose poetry has become one popular form of poetry and it is mastered e.g. by poets Saila Susiluoto, Silja Järventausta, Sanna Karlström and Risto Oikarinen. These writers have revived this form that was very alive during 1960´s and again in the beginning of 21st century. It is just however one form among others without any special place among contemporary Finnish poetry.
Who are the Finnish contemporary poets I especially like? I name few of them, and warn that they are not too many, because I would rather not make a long list of my colleagues in poetry. I am not the kind of person, who is into namedropping. I think it is good contents that talk for themselves.
A master of Finnish confessional poetry is poet Anni Sumari, who has also translated e.g. Samuel Beckett into Finnish. Anni´s poetic voice is deeply, even painstakingly honest, and reports especially disappointments female narrator has encountered during her adult life with men in amorous relationships. Love is often portrayed as one-sided and something poetic self is never able to attain or reach to. Sumari has published several books of poetry in addition to the translations she has introduced to Finnish audience. Other Finnish poet worth knowing to is Sirkka Turkka, whose books of poetry are full of horses and their lovable fur. She is also greatly fond of dogs, she believes they have a soul. Turkka´s dogs are very humanlike.
Rita Dahl is a Finnish writer with 11 published books, two translations and two editions. She blogs in This text has been written for the next issue of Yasakmeyve,a Turkish poetry magazine.


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