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!