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JUHANI AHVENJÄRVI

CLAES ANDERSSON

AGNETA ENCKELL

MARTIN ENCKELL

TUA FORSSTRÖM

PENTTI HOLAPPA

JOUNI INKALA

RIINA KATAJAVUORI

JYRKI KIISKINEN

LAURI OTONKOSKI

PENTTI SAARITSA

HELENA SINERVO

EIRA STENBERG

ANNI SUMARI

ILPO TIIHONEN

LAURI OTONKOSKI (b. 1959) has worked on many fields of culture: he is poet, musician, essayist and music critic. He has published seven collections of poems, a children’s book and essays. In his poems the observation is the subject. The world flows through senses and consciousness. The singular observation gets seasoned by irony. Otonkoski was awarded Nuori Suomi (Young Finland) Prize for literature in 1995, Yleisradio’s (the equivalent of the BBC) Tanssiva Karhu (Dancing Bear) Prize in 1996, Pekkanen Prize in 1999 and Engel Prize of Church Art in 2001.
THE POIGNANCY OF HUMAN EXISTENCE
THE POIGNANCY OF HUMAN EXISTENCE 

In the present literary climate Lauri Otonkoski could be seen as an exponent of particularly ‘impure’ poetry. His form of expression is conversational: although his poems often begin with a single thought or idea, they nonetheless quickly merge into a swell of images and reflections. The manner in which he plays with language and word association at times brings to mind the long, meandering sentences in the poetry of Jouni Inkala, yet rhythmically it is musically composed through and through and is characterised by a sense of stubbornness which evades any logic in the eyes of the reader. Otonkoski writes many different kinds of poems: resounding verses swim in fluid harmony with short, almost aphoristic stanzas, pounding inventories and poems which verge on a somewhat essayistic style. The way in which he employs various literary and cultural points of reference is particularly notable: these references appear throughout the texts and do not scorn at any holes in the reader’s cultural awareness.

Of his seven volumes of poetry to date, the most important of these could be considered the work which won him Yleisradio’s (equivalent of the BBC) Dancing Bear Prize, a work inspired by a spell in Tuscany, Musta oli valkoinen (1995) (‘Black was white’). The final series of poems in this collection entitled ‘Mun lapsille’ (To my children’) deals with yearning and absence, yet there is a prevailing sense of comfort and warm expectation. The themes in these poems, which take place in a landscape abundant with frescoes, cathedrals and piazzas, are in constant motion and are always ambiguous, they do not fully reveal themselves on the first reading. Otonkoski’s poems leave the reader with a strong sense of having experienced – or even learnt – something profound, something for which one cannot find words. The poignancy of human existence is shown in a bitter yet humorous light. In one particular poem Otonkoski discusses the foundation of his own work, leaving any potential reviewer looking ridiculous. Looking out of a window is one way of marvelling at the world, but the poet examines this more through words and phrases.

In his first two collections Mutta kukaan ei enää tiedä (1990) (‘But no one knows any longer’) and Harmaan koiran rondo (1992) (‘Greyhound Rondo’) Otonkoski is to a great extent still searching for his own voice. His short poems slash little wounds into our perceived reality, then sew them back together leaving things, perhaps deliberately, half way. Indeed, the tone of the series of poems which gives the latter collection its title is very sincere, and the world is put into words in a very concrete way. In these collections, as in all of Otonkoski’s work, the poet appears to be dealing with almost everything under the sun and not restricted to clearly defined themes.
The collection Paossa (1993) (‘Fleeing’) does not differ significantly from its predecessors, although a slight shift to a more aware and introverted way of speaking is discernible; it in a way pre-empts the following collection. What is new in this volume are prose poems and a delicate narrative, something for which Otonkoski seems to have been influenced by his work translating Raymond Carver into Finnish (Rivi riviltä, lyönti lyönniltä 1994: ‘Row for row, blow for blow’).

The gospels in the Bible serve as a key point of reference in the collection Ahava (1998) (‘Worn’). The poet succeeds in reflecting his relationship with historical events and religious tenets by employing amongst other things a theatrical kind of polyphony.

In collection Totuus (1998) (‘Truth’), Otonkoski writes essay-like prose poems which satirise themselves, the author and the work’s title. The reader has a clear sense that the poet feels at home here and in going beyond extremes in this way he brings something fresh to Finnish literature.

Kristian Huuhtanen
translated by David Hackston

Kirja – puhetta musiikista (essays, 1987), Mutta kukaan ei tiedä (1990), Klang – uusin musiikki (non-fiction, 1991), Harmaan koiran rondo (1992), Paossa (1993), Musta oli valkoinen (1995), Aarre Merikanto (non-fiction, 1997), Ahava (1998), Kuultavaa luettavaa – kirjoituksia vuosilta 1980−1999 (essays, 2000), Olo (2002), Cameo, sinfoninen runo (2005)


Credo

Sonatine

Trois couchers de soleil

En fuite

Une autre terre

L'aqueduc

Deux strophes

Instant plein

A chacun de vous

Cinq

Mais

Le pilote de la colline

Qui sait

Trop pres

Ceux qu'on ne voulait pas

Bavardage

37 mots dont aucun ne fut dicte...

Bâti sur le sable

La verticale toscane

Poeme