THE NOT-SO-ROSY FATE OF WOMAN
Katajavuori's poems are typically playful, and freshly and unconventionally articulated. The verbal merrymaking is often ironic, self-ironic and comic. Her themes are motherhood, womanhood, writing, familiarity and unfamiliarity of the everyday. Despite the fact that the poems draw on the personal, the speaker always retains some distance to the subject. This brings lightness and certain "impartiality" into Katajavuori’s writing.
Katajavuori is not a socially committed poet, at least not in the narrow sense of the term, but occasionally one can detect some feministic emphases in her writing. She undermines the idea of which topics poetry is supposed to deal with and which themes or approaches provide access to the elevated and the ambiguous. She portrays motherhood and the mundane in the light of self-irony and warm humor [cf., Painoton Tila (Weightless Space, 1998) and Koko tarina (The Whole Story, 2001)]. Her poems are accessible, but not simple.
Katajavuori's language is joyful. Her poems struggle out of the control of lyricism through verbal play and jamming and paradoxical flirt with language. The texts exhibit an abundance of slang and colloquial expressions. The poet also draws on imagery that undermines the expectations of conventional lyricism.
In addition to poetry, Katajavuori has published prose: a novel called Hevikimmat (Heavy Metal Chicks) was published in 1999 and Pentin aprillipäivä (Pentti and April Fools' Day), a children's book, in 2002. Also her poems contain narrative elements. They abound in concrete images and portrayal of the contemporary, as well as intertextual references and allusions to the other arts. Intertextual play (cf., variations of prayers in the poetry books Varkaan kirja (The Book of a Thief, 1992) and Painoton tila (Weightless Space) and numerous references to cultural history form an integral part of Katajavuori’s aesthetics. Her ironical perspective on what it is to be a poet and how poetry is generated brings metalyrical traits into her writing.
Katajavuori's themes vary from the girl power and metapoetry of the early years of her career (cf., Varkaan kirja and Kuka puhuu (Who's Talking, 1994)) to womanhood, parenthood and family in her later works. The most recent collection, The Whole Story, primarily focuses on motherhood. It depicts the continuum of generations, the line from the grandmother to the grandchild: "the whole story" of birth, aging and death. On the other hand, the name of the collection is ironical - it is impossible to say everything about these themes within one work.
The great number of allusions to popular and high culture place Katajavuori's poems in a distinct temporal context. Although the poet does not draw on nostalgia, and she never writes without critique or irony, her poetry still retains a strong emphasis on memory. Remembering, memories and stories - that is what we are made of, and it is these stories that Katajavuori has set out to explore.
translated by Sarka Hantula
Varkaan kirja (1992), Kuka puhuu (1994), Painoton tila (1998), Hevikimmat (novel, 1999), Koko tarina (2001), Pentin aprillipäivä (children's book, 2002), Lahjat (novel, 2004), Pentti Kanariansaarilla (children's book, 2006), Kirjeitä Jekaterinburgiin (short stories, 2006), Mennään jo kotiin (children's book, 2007), Kerttu ja Hannu (2007)