Literature as a European Mothertongue: In our series “One is a CROWD”, we introduce you to authors from all over Europe who will be involved in the CROWD omnibus reading tour, taking place from May to July 2016, featuring around 100 authors who will travel through 15 European countries. We asked them three questions based on text production, reception and mediation. In case you have always wanted to know what a literary activist in Siuro looks like, meet Jyrki K. Ihalainen!
Do you see yourself as an author? Are you the originator and main authority of your text? And if not, who is, if anyone at all?
The origins of my poetry are mostly in my every day life. I will give you an example. As I was in Einstürzende Neubauten concert in Tampere, I got the certain line coming to my mind as I was driving home from the concert: “It´s not that Red” in “Sabrina“. While driving I wrote the whole poem, which carries the same name. But the colors and lines came out from my own live. It is a love poem, where I am asking what is her color and how she behaves with the colors.
“Let´s say that it is green like a forest
it is green like a patinated copper
it is green like a mouldy cheese
it is the moss green the spruce green
it is the green of parsley it is the lily pad
it is army green
it is the green of our kitchen wall
it is green like Absinthe and absence
it is green like a buck washed in a washing machine
it is green as a schoolboy in a whorehouse
it is green like a flag of Finland “
My concept of a long poem is the face-to-face situation with the audience. Earlier I made translations of indigenous poetry and Eurasian epic poetry, and that has influenced my ways of reading poetry in public. The rhythm and the breathing of a reader should follow the path of walking or rotate like a dancer. A long line can equal one long breath. Or sometimes a long line gets lost, as one does in a real live.
In some of my poems the author is turned into the salesman. In a poem “NATO” I am selling weapons, missiles and aircraft, and I am also telling what to do with the arsenal. In another poem “Memory Collapse” I am selling Memory erasers. As you know, some experiences in life are best wiped out, so “Our dream is to make our customers light and carefree, / the people who without the burden of catastrophe and unlucky past / can dive happy and free into their new adventures.”
The memory is actually very interesting, because memory collapse is happening not only in human mind, but also in the history of Nations. The past is best to be seen victorious and rosy. In everymans youth there is intensity and adventure, which is usually seen as the golden years or crazy days. The fooling around also makes poetry and writing more raw and restless, which carries very interesting view to the language, as spoken reality is sometimes more intense than the written one.
Reading poetry with music is challenging, as you have to follow the music. The most intense reading for me is always with the live musicians, like a Finnish jazz group Black Motor. As they start playing I will listen, and then I pick up the poem for that sound. That is very open situation, like a free happening, or a spontaneous performance.
Reading is writing is reading is writing … – why, and if, how?
My mother always writes To-Do-lists for the gardening and house keeping. The listing has fascinated me all my life. Among the writers making lists are Francois Rabelais, Francis Bacon, James Joyce, Italo Calvino, Henry Miller. Since Hesiod (800 BC) Theogony listing has been used as an encyclopaedian way of understanding and mapping the world unknown.
The listing is characteristic to Capricorns, like Umberto Eco. In his book The Infinity of Lists he is wandering through the maze of medieval rituals and texts, through the libraries of James Joyce, Walt Whitman and Jorge Luis Borgess, ending in Rabelais inventing the catalogue of books kept in the Abbey of Saint Victor. “The infinity of aesthetics is a sensation that follows from the finite and perfect completeness of the thing we admire, while the other form of representation suggests infinity almost physically, because in fact it does not end, nor does it conclude in form.”
In a list or catalogue every item, every plant, every angel and every element bears a story to be told or written. All associations are freely attached, and every item takes its place in a poem produced by the reader of a list.
What is your favorite literary spot in…? (literary venue, bar, meeting spot etc.) Please give us a link to the website of the spot.
My favourite literary spot is Annikki Poetry Festival. This one day festival is happening in a 100 year old yard in Tampere city. Please look at the photos and the videos.
Photo © Teppo S. Moilanen