May 31, 2005 11:59 AM New at nokturno.org Fredrik Hertzberg on Finland-Swedish Pioneers in Visual Poetry (N,S): Kurt Sanmark, J. O. Mallander, Martin Enckell, Cia Rinne – and Heidi von Wright. This is the place also to recommend Fred’s Moving Materialities. On Poetic Materiality and Translation, with Special Reference to Gunnar Björling’s Poetry (Dissertation at Åbo Akademi). I took some of his examples on Björling, producing this small tri-lingual sampler.

May 30, 2005 6:24 AM I am not John Keats. I’m Samuel Taylor Coleridge! The infamous “archangel a little damaged!” I took drugs and talked for hours, it’s true, but I also made a conscious choice to cultivate the image of the deranged poet in a frenzy of genius. I claimed I wrote “Kubla Khan” in an afternoon after a laudanum, when I pretty manifestly did no such thing. I with my flashing eyes and floating hair! And my brilliant scholarship and obvious genius. – Took the “if you were a major romantic poet” test (via Kokko via Konkka via Räsänen via Silliman). OK, I didn’t agree with the “what is your world view” test either (too much [around 90%!] for “postmodernist”, too little for both “materialist” [a meager 50%] and “idealist” [a lousy 10%]). I guess I now have to translate “Kubla Khan” in an afternoon or so. Unless I am a major romantic poet, of course…

May 28, 2005 12:21 AM Shelf’s Unity Shines? He, Sinful Synthesis? No, it’s The Finnish Ulysses – my new blog at thefinnishulysses.blogspot.com, (N,F: in Finnish, that is).

May 27, 2005 9:38 AM Welcome to Plagiosphere. An article at Technology Review.com (N), on text-comparison software, concludes: “Copernicus may have deprived us of our centrality in the cosmos, and Darwin of our uniqueness in the biosphere, but at least they left us the illusion of the originality of our words. Soon that, too, will be gone.” I, for one, am not going to miss it.

May 25, 2005 10:00 AM minimum daily requirements Jukka Pekka Kervinen puts up a new blogzine (N) “for collaborations, experiments, and visual poetry”.

May 25, 2005 8:14 AM Tuli&Savu Net publishes my Finnish translation of three poems by Heidi von Wright (N,F), a young poet from Turku who carries on the long experimental tradition of the Finnish-Swedish. You may want to check one of the poems (you might be tempted to sit on it) also in original and in my English translation.

May 24, 2005 10:23 AM As a follow-up to my mention of Picasso yesterday, this is how the artist himself defined his work toward the end of his life: “Picasso, Pablo Ruiz – Spanish poet who dabbled in painting, drawing and sculpture.” Witness The Burial of Count of Orgaz & Other Poems (Exact Change, 2004), a collection of Picasso’s writings in English translations, edited by Pierre Joris and Jerome Rothenberg, translations by the editors & by Paul Blackburn, Suzanne Jill Levine, Ricardo Nierenberg, Jason Weiss, Mark Weiss, David Ball, Anselm Hollo, Robert Kelly, Diane Rothenberg, Cole Swenson, Anne Waldman, and Laura Wright (& for a sampler as an Ubu Classic, click here). I tend to agree with the editors: these writings enable us to re-live, sort of, the original impact of the work of Picasso and other Modernist Fathers – at a time and in a place (our’s, still…) where poetry “becomes the only language that matters”. – Finnish translations may or not be forthcoming.

May 23, 2005 8:38 AM Rauno Räsänen, alias “Raymond Rittgenstein of Kotka” is at it again. He posts an interesting quote (N) from Italo Calvino (N,I), framing it as a question to me (and to Charles Bernstein, I think). Thus Calvino: “I expect readers to read in my books something I didn’t know, but I can expect it only from those who expect to read something they didn’t know.” Yes, I could subscribe to the Italian Master’s view which, in my mind, also echoes one of Picasso’s mottoes: “I don’t search. I find.” Reading really is a form of writing, and vice versa… In a personal email, Rauno also comments on the fact of his writing in English: “I’m now ‘learning English’ in the most open of the Universities, the Blogger.” Well, there’s this joke about the man who found an ideal way to learn Spanish: he put an ad in the paper: “Spanish lessons given.” That way, he’d learn himself too. That’s exactly how I feel about my own writing in English (the “occupier’s language”, if you wish…)

May 22, 2005 10:58 AM From The Desk Of A Traffic Tracker. The number of countries I’ve been having visitors from since April 25 recently rose to 50 – with a googler from Islamic Republic of Iran for “fotouhipour”, which is the family name of the Tehran poet mentioned in the entry of April 14. The countries with more than 1 percent share of the total traffic are: United States (39.34%), Finland (36.31%), Spain (4.55%), Canada (4.46%), United Kingdom (3.07%), Germany (2.61%), Australia (1.65%), and Sweden (1.37%). Last Friday again saw the record number of page loads – 1,085 – boosted, it seems, by links to the Google Poem Generator at livejournal.com chat pages, like this one (N) (And for an edited poem by “claudelemonde”, click here (N) … Of course, one should not believe everything one sees in logs and tracking statistics: for instance, wherever I surf, my visits will be recorded as coming from the Netherlands, the former domicile of my ISP, Eunet. And as to the “quality” of traffic, suffice it to mention that my poem “Ananke: A Pantoum”, which happens to feature some – intentionally misplaced – explicit content, seems to keep getting hits from equally misplaced googlers (for “bit tits”, “horny cunt” etc.). On the other hand, evidently since the poem contains the words “poem” and “mother” as well, it also proved a hit during the days preceding the Mothers’ Day… What can I say…

May 21, 2005 11:11 AM Now for something completely (?) different. During my politically active phase, from 1971 to 1983, I worked as what was, officially, “the Political Secretary of the Politbyro of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Finland (CPF)” – the latter at the time one of the major political forces of the country. During that time, I came to “write” practically everything the party officially “said”: countless speeches, statements, declarations, platforms. As I’ve indicated elsewhere, I consider that to have been my real initiation to the eternally fascinating dilemmas of poetry & translation. The party at the time was badly split between the pro-Soviet hardliners (the “minority”) and the more Eurocommunist leadership (that I, in contrast to many others in my generations, supported); to preserve the formal unity of the party – forced, to a large extent, from outside by the Soviet “brothers” – everything we issued had to be so formulated as to allow for (at least) two interpretations & it was always my job to come up with the necessary ambiguities… That, after my two first books of poetry, taught me to understand the double-speak element in all human communication, the rhetorical nature of all language – the necessarily unending “flow” of the “signifier”, if you wish. Acknowledging this, however, does not deprive the language of its possibility to mean, to take sides, to commit itself and the user. In retrospect, what we did back in 70’s can now more and more be seen as part of certain struggle for independency – for the party, and for the country as well. To testify on that (and in connection to a seminar on the “Finnish 70’s” I’m attending today) I put up two hitherto unpublished documents relating to the most debated “Eurocommunist” manifesto of the time – the article “Historical Compromise As a Finnish Possibility” (1979), by Arvo Aalto, the then Secretary General of CPF (written, evidently, by me): 1) The secret official condemnation of that article by the Central Committee of Communist Party of USSR, 2) The unofficial denunciation of this condemnation by the leaders of CPF (written, evidently, by me). So, effectively, it’s me in debate with the neighboring CC of CP; a conversation I’d have loved to carry on, unless… Alas, it’s all in Finnish (and Finnish readers: note the wonderfully bastard Finnish of the CC). Sticking to my principle, I introduce this in English – so the others will at least know they don’t know what they are missing… For more, go here.

May 20, 2005 1:08 PM ev’nin’ sun go down Cause / you was my – Database A new Make Copies couplets poem (N) – based on a line from Hannu Helin (N).

May 20, 2005 10:21 AM Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man dichten? This could be (one of) my reponse(s) to Rauno Räsänen’s sincere and difficult questions (N,F) re my yesterday’s post and Charles’ old interview. Another (and since Rauno also takes up Miia Toivio’s quote from Ann Lauterbach) (N) could be this, from Keats (N), against “egotistical sublime”: “I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason (…) This pursued through volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration.” And yeah, speaking about Keats, my poem “Negative Capability” (N) (at Poet’s Corner (N)) is half-homophonic from “Negatiivinen kyky” in Ääninen (F), which again is half-homophonic from Keats’ “Bright Star” sonnet (N). So, without any reaching after reason, the latter’s “Bright star! Would I were steadfast as thou art -” yields mine “Miss you like fan, festooning, laughing man.” I really do…

May 19, 2005 10:57 AM For those of you in the New York City area today, note the launch of, a.o., Some Of These Daze – by Mimi Gross & Charles Bernstein, on and around 9/11 – at ZieherSmith, 531 W. 25th, Chelsea, 6-8 PM. Also, I put up an old interview with Charles by me – from the major Finnish daily, Helsingin Sanomat, January 17, 1993: English, Finnish.

May 18, 2005 10:58 AM Shadow Finlandia Update. Now 134 first – or rather: last – sentences of Karri Kokko’s blog.

May 15, 2005 7:40 AM I’m honored to have some stuff of mine in English published (N) in Poet’s Corner (N), an online anthology curated by Anny Ballardini (N). The selection includes four sonnets from my 1997 sequence, Ääninen (Lake Onega), in my own translation-adaptation, together with translations from Eino Leino (“Tuulikannel”) and Aaro Hellaakoski (“Hauen laulu”).

May 14, 2005 7:20 AM
RIP Arto Melleri (1956-2005)

“Whoever knows the journey’s end as he sets out is there already.”
& see
Aamuisin katson taivasta toisin / Gegen Morgen seh ich den Himmel anders (N,F,G).

May 13, 2005 9:47 AM Let me introduce to you: Dr. Hubert van den Berg, from the Netherlands, a renowned scholar of historical avant-gardes, writer of, a.o., Avantgarde und Anarchismus (N,G) (1999; & for a short extract, click here (N,G)). He will be one of the keynote speakers – on Finnish Modernism! – in the upcoming Helsinki Poetics Conference, of which more here.

May 12, 2005 9:19 AM Still talking Scandinavia. Inspired by Pejk’s piece on Copenhagen (N, see May 10), this.

May 11, 2005 8:40 AM Jukka-Pekka Kervinen interviewed by Mark Young (N) at Tom Beckett’s Ex-c-h-a-n-g-e-v-a-l-u-e-s (N).

May 11, 2005 7:47 AM Yesterday, during the Kirjan ja ruusun päivä event in Esplanadi park, Helsinki (we launched a new poEsia title (N,F) there), Jonas (J) Magnusson, who is visiting Finland this summer, gave me a copy of Swedish OEI (N,S), which he co-edits with Anders Lundberg and Jesper Olson. OEI is one of the literary magazines in Scandinavia today (beside, say, ny poesi (N,No) and Tuli&Savu (N,F)). It’s current issue is dedicated to electronic poetry, and it features a really cool poem by John Swedenmark, “I år ska alla vinna första priset” (This Year Everyone Will Win The First Prize), that seems to use the format of a mathematical puzzle, also known as the Tower of Hanoi (N), where you have three pegs, in one of which a number of disks are stacked in increasing size: task is to transfer the entire tower to one of the other pegs, moving only one disk at a time and never putting a larger one on top of a smaller. In Swedenmark’s poem, the (complicated) procedure to do this is applied to the laying out of the repeating title phrase, like this. My daughter Saara, a mathematician (N,F), tells me that should you have a tower of, say, 64 disks/words, instead of the seven here, you’d need 18446744073709551615 moves / stanzas to the poem. At the rate of one second per stanza, it would take 585 billion years to read it (compare the present age of our Universe: 5 billion years). Now that could be a recipe for writing “news that stays” today: compile poems that are impossible to read through…

May 9, 2005 8:49 Ulysses advertises itself as a novel that includes and says it all, yet the experience of annotating the novel and teaching it with the aid of the annotations suggest that often what is not said is central to our experience of the novel. He combines Dolores, the girl of the East, waiting in the song “The Shade of the Palm” (now a pear tree), with the waiting girl with the dark eyes in the song “In Old Madrid”. The latter! See Enda Duffy, “Interesting States”, in “Ulysses” – En-Gendered Perspectives, 218. She put her arms round him and pulled him down on her breasts, asking him with her eyes to ask her again, and this time saying Yes. – By taking up this meme, from Anita Konkka (N,F), I’m signaling I’ll soon go back to working with my new Finnish translation (F) of Ulysses. I now have new versions for chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 18. – Meme is: take five books and pick up sentences as follows: 1) first one in book one, 2) last one in book two, page 50, 3) second one in book three, page 100, 4) last one in book four, page 150, 5) last one in book five. – Mine are from the Joyce section of my bookshelf: 1) Glifford: Ulysses Annotated, 2) Bowen: Bloom’s Old Sweet Song; 3) Joyce: Finnegans Wake, 4) Balsamo: Joyce’s Messianism, 5) Blamires: The New Bloomsday Book.

May 8, 2005 10:36 AM “The best picture of a picture / is not a picture / but the negative”. In this interview with him (N) by Eric Denut, in The Argotist Online (N), Charles Bersntein (N) talks about the “negative economy” of poetry, and about his libretto (coming up from Green Integer (N)) to the opera Shadowtime (N), by Brian Ferneyhough. For “Laurel’s Eyes”, from the libretto, in my Finnish as “Laurel sais”, click here.

May 8, 2005 9:10 AM Some things Google knows… An “Activated Googlisms” (N) poem by Jesse Fahrenbruch.

May 7, 2005 9:37 AM I never thought anyone would want to wrap me in the Finnish flag (N) ;-)

May 7, 2005 9:23 AM Google Poem Audio. Pejk Malinovski’s After you left (N; Real Audio), aired yesterday in Next Big Thing (N), a New York City radio feature (WNYC).

May 6, 2005 10:38 AM Coming soon to a park near you. Kolmosten talo, by poets Pauliina Haasjoki and Reetta Niemelä (poEsia), will be launched at the Kirjan ja ruusun päivä festival, May 10, Esplanadi, Helsinki. See press release (N,F) at Tuli&Savu Net.

May 6, 2005 8:19 AM It’s a numbers’ game again. The other day, I made a mention of Claude Closky’s The first thousand numbers classified in alphabetical order (N). Now, I’ve come to translate it into Finnish (N,F; it’s in .rtf). It seemed a relatively simple job, and now the result doesn’t even come near to the original! Maybe it’s just a first draft…

May 5, 2005 11:09 AM A candidate for Guinness? This poem by Henriikka Tavi (N,F), at nokturno.org (N,F), a Finnish portal for digital poetry, seems to hide in itself an uncountable number of individual compound words.

May 4, 2005 11:23 AM El cercador californià és capaç de crear poemes. As if in response to what I wrote below, Barcelona-based Catalan language elecronic daily, Vila Veb (with 400000 monthly users), today features a link to the Google Poem Generator at its front page (permanent link, both N,C). This may be the first ever mention in a major online news service, and we already have some 60 visitors (38 per cent of all) from Spain today. Benvingut!

May 4, 2005 8:38 AM Time for a Mission Statement? It’s simple: poetry. It’s complicated: not “Finnish” poetry, nor “English” or “American” or “World” poetry even. Rather: poetry at borders. At this border between Finnish and Everything, but perhaps at any border. Not crossing borders, rather being at both (or more) sides at the same time. Not importing / exporting; rather exposing / imposing. & thus always in Second Language. – I’ve been using a tracker service for a week now. Their (exaggerated, I’m sure, and including the Generator (N)) figure is 1200 Unique Visitors, from a total of 26 countries (28 once I get to locate “Unknown” and “Satellite Provider”…). 44 percent of you come from Finland, 37 from United States; 53 per cent from Europe, 43 from North America (so there’s ample room for diversification.). What else? Google poems get generated at the rate of 100 to 200 per day (should one hope for more?) – What, no external links to this entry? How about this (after my shower of statistics): Claude Closky: The first thousand numbers classified in alphabetical order (N). Some figuring out for you. And yes, it’s from Ubu, again (N).

May 4, 2005 6:20 AM New in the Anthology: PR Primeau’s couplets poem Fuck Coca Cola (N) (fine with me).

May 3, 2005 11:34 AM This is just to note that, if meaning-hungry, you can now eat each current page by clicking “Eat this” (halfway down the right margin).

May 3, 2005 10:27 AM I did a quick translation of the 60 first entries in Karri Kokko’s Varjofinlandia (N,F; Shadow Finlandia, a blog of “dark stripes”, i.e. gloomy and pessimistic sentences gleaned from the Finnish Blogistan on a daily basis). Karri’s work reminds me of Legion by Craig Dworkin (N), to me, one of the coolest pieces in what you can call conceptual writing (N).

May 2, 2005 9:44 AM New in the Anthology: Sheila E. Murphy’s beautiful Extinguish That Flute! (N). & Sheila at Here Comes Everybody (N) & interviewed by Tom Beckett (N).

May 1, 2005 9:23 AM The First Of May. A 1965 poem by Väinö Kirstinä in my new English translation.

May 1, 2005 6:30 AM “The dorsal surface of her tongue associated // Parenting toes and fingers / and fingers”. Harry K Stammer’s sonnet (N) in the Google Poem Anthology. And it’s an image of itself…

May 1, 2005 1:05 AM “UbuWeb (N), a huge online archive of avant-garde poetry.” You might have heard it, read it – but not in The New York Times (N) until now. Requires registration (which I hate) but it may be worth it this time. Congrats, Kenny!