Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sami Activism Inspiring My Research

The Sami along with other first nations leaders from Canada and New Zealand have been in Finland not far from where I am living to protest a planned railway development though the Boreal Forest. That would encourage more mining, forestry and other industrial development as climate change means melting Arctic sea and industry has its eye on a path to cut through areas important to the Sami for reindeer herding and for their way of life. I can't keep up with all the activism and amazing film, video, protest art and other eco-media being made in resistant to colonization and extractivism. I knew when Standing Rock took place in North Dakota it would inspire global protests..luckily these are peaceful and I haven't heard of police showing up just yet. I spoke with two researchers at University of Oulu who were very helpful to me, Marko Jouste and Hannu Heikkinen.  I am preparing for my 
presentation at Vienna Anthropolgy Days
 and I am not organized because I can't
mention all the new material that I am
finding here.  It will be my first time at
an anthropology conference and my first time in Vienna.

Meanwhile, I went to Oulu, the bigger town around here but still a small city.

 I am standing with Sanna Koivisto's sculpture Course of Time, which shows all the various people in history from King Charles IX when Sweden ruled Finland, to a postman, a society lady, a shopkeeper and a female doctor. Sanna is one of the founders of the KulttuuriKauppila residency and art park and my good neighbor with whom I had my first sauna session of this trip...She also inspired a poem I am working on. Here is the link to the description of me that the residency put on line:

There is a wonderful Environmental Art Park in Ii, and I am including some photos of the art from there, many of whom held the residency here, or were part of the ART Ii Biennale held every two years.

Chairs in the art park
Lena Stenberg's Upside Down
Jenni Laiti and Outi Pieski's "Forewalkers" about the
Sami philosophy of "soabalas eallin"preserving, protecting
and supporting diversity in nature and humans.

Antti ready for mushroom picking although the best ones were gone.

edible mushrooms picked
with Antti and cooked later

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Ii (Pronounced Eeee) Is said to Be a Modification of a Sami Word For Place to Stay Overnight

 I met Heini and Sanna, two of the
folks who make this place run!

Sanna took me for a walk in the woods, and I met her dog and chickens.
After working on a new poem and having my official artist-in-residence photograph taken, I went for a swim
in the Ii river. Cold even for me, and no sauna before! The temperature here is mid-60s but going down to the 50s.  Signs of autumn everywhere as I  pick bilberries, similar to blueberries but smaller. The lingonberries are  out too, tart and red.  I had them with my yogurt for breakfast, and also ate local apples.

KultuuriKauppila is know for its  ART Ii Biennale and in the woods near the residency, you can see the MY NAME IS NATURE: Please Fuck Me sign made by Sami artist Carola Grahn
who I met in New York a couple of years ago. Not everyone around here is pleased with this, but I think it makes a necessary statement.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Heading to One Month Writing Residency at Art Centre Kulttuurikauppila in Ii, Finland

Nervous. I will be living in a red wooden house in the small town of Ii, Finland, along the Gulf of Bothnia, north of the city of Oulu, for the month of September. But also thrilled.  I guess it may be lonely, and I may hear things at night.

There will be no other residents who sleep there, but a few artists studios are in the same building, including Antti Leinonen,  who I met in New York when he was visiting and studying photography, and he is a friend of the wonderful Finnish Sami artist I have written about, Marja Helander   so I feel blessed to have that connection in Finland, one of my newer ones. I thank the chain of friendships and links to artists and creative souls that fuel my writing and poetry, such as this poem, published recently in HANGING LOOSE   a short excerpt:


Can I use my miles to get more miles?
They never expire. Flea market to closet.
A calm naked swim in Simhall, then smoke sauna.

Have a Lapin Kulta Premium. Find out who's where.
Angie's singing. She sways and scat sings, the guitar rolls...

Annika shows me where they wash rugs with a brush in the Gulf of Finland.

This photo was taken at a smoke sauna outside of Helsinki just before it caught on fire. It inspired my poem, "The Thin Man at Kuusiarvi Sauna," that appeared in NEW AMERICAN WRITING 36 (BUY A COPY and support this excellent journal edited by Paul Hoover)  Here is the first verse:

The thin man in the cap at Kuusijarvi sauna 
makes it hot enough to melt a stone. When he throws water steam hisses
in the small wooden room.
Lips sear off my face.
He cultivates heat like wanton love.

Anyway, I hope to continue working on more poems inspired by Kalevala, the Finnish epic, Sami folklore and current Sami political struggles and how they relate to environmental and social justice, blended with personal adventure, sense of play,  and riffing on my outsider status as a visitor in Finland and as a scholar of Sami (sometimes spelled Saami) film and eco-media who is not Sami or Finnish. Love to hear from you! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Swimming at Stockhom Beach, Steig Larsson Millienuuium walk, Sodermalm

With Sami woman on locker, Nordic Museum, Djurgarden
Memorial for the massacre victims, Stockholm near Central Station
Cheryl at Bellmansgatan 1, where Mikael Blomkvist lived
Beach at Smedsuddsbadet where I swam

colorful buildings near Lena's apt on Roslagsgatan     

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cheryl's pathetic output of cloudberries
Kaisa, Lena and Cheryl before berry picking..
the lake we passed after the train tracks to Kaisa's Sami village

the girls and Ailo bogged down with buckets

all that's left of the reindeer

Anna with cloudberry jam before we slathered it on waffles  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Picking Cloud Berries near Kiruna in Swedish Lapland; arrival in Stockholm

Just arrived in Stockholm and will try to post my photos of the amazing cloudberry experience from yesterday when Lena, Kaisa, Lena's mom and five-year old nephew Ailo went to pick the elusive yellow cloud berry, native to Lapland and having the best showing in years. We drove half an hour outside of Kiruna, and had to cross the train tracks  and walk two kilometers to Kaisa's ancestral Sami village to get them..they grow low to the ground in bogs, in mossy patches you see the red and yellow staring up at you... so we had to wear our boots and rain pants and rain jackets and walk through tundra and turf battling hordes of hungry mosquitoes to get some of the reddish yellow delight, and I only lasted half an hour but found part of a reindeer jaw as my reward for being a wimp.  Kaisa's mom Anna laughed at the measly output in my bucket...later she made homemade waffles, cloudberry jam and whipped cream...oh my God  so delicious.. I had the rain fell I sat in the warm cottage reading my book (Netherland by Joseph O'Neill) while the others picked berries out by the lake to beat the Norwegian tourists out of the berries everyone covets (they are allowed on private land in Sweden)...but Kaisa's mom said in Northern Sami language, so it was lost on me, that since they just had a tragedy, they will let the tourists pick the berries near their cottage, cut them some slack just this once. Kaisa thankfully translated..her English is to come...Stockholm is lovely in July...back to urban energy...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Photos from Riddu Riddu and Memorial Concert ends festival on note of hope

Yoik workshop in Turf Hut

 The Riddu  festival was cut short due to the tragedy--but a memorial concert closed out with hope and encouragement to stay strong and unite across differences from many of the indigenous performers.  The wonderful Russian band Yat-Kha closed out with a powerful rock set that included traditional Asian instruments, modern guitar, bass and drum, and throaty roaring of its lead singer combining heavy metal with ancient chant-- Tuvan folk-rock throat singing by Evgenii Tkachev ..they only played a few songs and I wanted it to go on...

lead singer on left
traditional and modern instruments

Violet Hill, from Troms county  Norway
The other groups that performed last night were a youth group, from various Indigenous traditions, mostly Scandinavian and Russian, and they were symbolic of the spirit of youth that cannot be crushed by someone like the shooter, who was targeting the youth of the social democrats , Norway's ruling liberal party..I watched in the rain with Lena and Kaisa (above in the shawl) who works for the Swedish Sami Parliament in Kiruna, Sweden.  The bands Saturday night that stood out for me were-Violet Hil a local Sami bandl and Timbuktu from Sweden (althought they went on late after I had left but I heard their sound check). Other highlights of the festival before and despite the tragedy:  a yoik workshop I took in the turf hut (see photos) and the hippie like calm atmosphere, beautiful music coming out of the yurta (a small yurt where intimate concerts took place) and diversity of attendees and their colorful traditional outfits.

face painted performer from Greenland and kids in Sami dress; me and Lena in her Lavvu of a Hunt's man