Insane Clown Posse

insane clown posse siteA scary clown has struck again in Vuoksenniska, this time on the bike path at the end of Retikankuja. Photo by Minna Mäkinen. Courtesy of Uutisvuoksi

Clown Character Shows Up in Vuoksenniska in Broad Daylight, Scares Two Schoolboys
Clown Was Lurking in Bushes on Bike Path Leading to Lakasentie 
Minna Mäkinen
September 30, 2019

A character wearing a clown mask has struck again in Vuoksenniska. This time the character appeared in broad daylight—on Sunday sometime after one in the afternoon.

The victims of the intimidation were schoolboys out riding their bicycles.

“The boys came home out of breath and told me the clown had been in the bushes. He had come out of the bushes to chase them. He was not able to overtake the boys since they pedaled as quickly away from the spot as they could,” said Tanja Jaatinen, mother of one of the boys.

According to the boys, the clown character was holding a knife.

The incident occurred at the end of Retikankuja on the bike path leading to Lakasenpelto.

Frightening Encounter
The encounter with the clown frightened the second-graders.

“I was freaked out, too,” Jaatinen said.

She immediately reported the incident to emergency services.

“A police patrol has been to the spot,” she said.

The police situation center confirmed their officers had gone to Vuoksenniska, but no one was found at the scene of the incident.

Last Incident Was in Early September
According to Jaatinen, it was especially unfortunate the clown character was scaring little children, who until then had ventured to move around by themselves in the daytime.

The last time a clown struck was in Vuoksenniska on September 3. The target of the intimidation was 17-year-old Imatra resident Samu Kemppi.

Kemppi was biking toward the underpass that runs under Saimaanhovintie in Vuoksenniska when a person dressed in a clown suit jumped from the hillside in front of him.

saimaanhovintieThe site of the September 2019 incident. Image courtesy of Google Maps

Kemppi called emergency services, but when police arrived at the scene they could find no trace of the perpetrator.

The police have been investigating the incident in early September as illegal intimidation.

A person in a clown suit also made headlines in Imatra in October 2017 when they intimidated a young girl in Vuoksenniska. The police then also failed to catch the perpetrator.

Translated by Living in FIN

International Translation Day: Hannu Salakka



Today, September 30, is International Translation Day.

I celebrated International Translation Day in 2016 by sending a virtual love letter to the great Finnish poet and writer Eeva Kilpi, who published two new books this year at the ripe young age of ninety-one.

It was a chance encounter with Kilpi’s poems that inspired me to take the rash step of translating from Finnish to English in the first place. And, although I am often distracted by my real job (translating from Russian to English) and my dangerously job-like hobby (translating articles about Russian grassroots politics and culture), I have found the time, since I first happened upon Kilpi’s poems (in a hut by the side of a road to a paradise-like place in the countryside, where, as I learned last year, Kilpi’s father once had a summer cottage) to translate many more poems by her and let other chance encounters lead me to other great Finnish poets.

Aside from Kilpi, the Finnish poet who has made himself most at home in my life has been Hannu Salakka (1955–2003). While Kilpi is known to a good number of readers outside of Finland through translations of her novels, memoirs, stories, and poems, and was, apparently, nominated for a Nobel Prize, Salakka (whose collected poems, published in 1990, is two hundred pages longer than Kilpi’s collected poems, published in 2000) is now, sixteen years after his death, nearly as obscure in his homeland as he is abroad.

Although both poets share a certain aesthetic sensibility and a deceptively simple approach to writing poems, Salakka’s work has never been translated into English either at all or in any noticeable quantities. This is a shame because his poems are every bit as wry, profound, humane, and therapeutic as Kilpi’s are, although they are probably a good deal bleaker.

Or, perhaps, they seem that way to me because Salakka died at the age of forty-eight, four years younger than I am now, and because his obscurity seems irrefutable, a sad fact brought home to me by the number of times I have found his books abandoned and offered for a pittance in secondhand stores and piled up, so I imagine, in the backrooms of the booksellers from whom I have bought the books of his I did not find at random in Finland’s ubiquitous secondhand stores.

As I did three years ago on this day, I have chosen a poem from Salakka’s collected poems using a random number generator. I could not have chosen a better poem to illustrate his gifts as a poet. The poem also revolves around a beautifully apt metaphor for what it is poets and translators do when they are at their best: they set words free to soar and sing.



Löysin maasta linnun,
elävän, harmaan pienen linnun,
aran kuin vain lintu voi olla arka.
Silitin sitä ja puhuin sille,
vaikka näin sen sitä pelkäävän.
Halusin sen laulavan,
mutta se vapisi ja pysyi mykkänä.
Mutta kun avasin käteni,
se lensi,
lensi yhä kauemmas ja korkeammalle.

Ja vielä vuosienkin jälkeen
kuulen lintujen yhä laulavan.

* * * * *


I found a bird on the ground.
A little gray bird, it was alive,
and bashful as only a bird could be.
I stroked it and spoke to it,
though I saw this made it afraid.
I wanted it to sing,
but it shivered and kept mum.
When I opened my hand, however,
it flew,
it flew ever farther and higher.

And even years later
I can still hear the birds singing.

Source: Hannu Salakka, Kuin unessa viiypen (Helsinki: Otava, 1990), p. 122. Photo and translation by Living in FIN. This translation is dedicated to V., my comrade in life, translating, and Finnish. It also happens to be her name day today.

Jorma Etto, “Othello”



Lapsesta asti rakastin sanoja,
sanoja kunniotin, ihailin sanoja,
neitseitä ne olivat, jaloja niin:
desdemonaksi kuvittelin substaantiivit.
Nyt inhat, irstaat, yököttävät kaikki nuo,
monien siitämät, silti marrot,
käytetyt portot joita rakastan.
Oi Aika, jalo ystäväni, kivesi kokoat
ja heität kasvoilleni. Siitä nämä uurteet.
Helpoksi kaiken teet,
pehmeiksi päivät sanoja maat. Hyi!
Ken on se Jago? Se sietäis tappaa
sijasta desdemonan, lemmittyni.
Nuo viisaat kaikki, nuo luulevaiset kirjat,
minulle kuiskuttivat ja minä uskoin:
syvälle päästäkseen on surmattava puhtain,
joksikin mahdutettava mihin ei se mahdu,
myrkkynsä sekoitettava, juotava myrkky,
verensä musteena haavoistaan vuodatettava
palstoille pohjattomille. Oi viisaus, Jago,
Kristuksen minusta naulitsit ristiin
että päästäisit minusta pois Barabbaan.
Olen levittänyt desdemonani pellavalle kuin uhrin
(mutta naarmuakaan ei saanut lumenpuhdas,
alabasterinhieno), ja kynttilän, jo läikkyvän,
puhalsin sammuksiin (oi sammu, tuli, sammu!)
Oi kuinka ruusun taitettuaan sen saisi
elämään uudestaan ja kukkimaan? Ei.
Se kuihtuu, kuolee. Minä myös.
Liikaa rakastin, nyt suurmaani lemmin,
en edes luita desdemoman saata unohtaa,
puhtaita niin, niin hentoja: sanoja suloisia suutelin
kun niiltä hengen vein. Ja tuhkasi, oi desdemona,
nyt sormin tunnottomin, jäykin,
riveiksi näiksi kylvän tälle aukealle.

* * * * *

I loved words ever since I was a kid.
I respected words, I admired them.
They were virgins, so noble.
I imagined nouns as Desdemonas.
All of them are now wretched, wanton, nauseating,
Beget by many yet barren,
The secondhand harlots I love.
O time, my noble friend, you gather your stones
and toss them in my face, hence these furrows.
You make everything easy,
you soften days, words, countries. Ugh!
Who, pray, is the Iago? You would have to kill him
instead of Desdemona, my beloved.
All those wise men, those gullible books
whispered to me and I believed
I must kill what is purest to go deep,
squeeze something where it does not fit,
mix my poison, drink poison,
shed blood like ink from my wounds
into bottomless columns of print. O wisdom, Iago:
you would nail the Christ in me to the cross
to drive the Barabbas in me out.
I spread my Desdemona on linen like a sacrifice
(but pure as snow, fine as alabaster, she did not suffer
a single scratch) and the candle, already spilling,
I blew out. (Go out, flame, go out!)
Can a rose, after it has snapped,
be brought back to life and bloom? No,
it withers and dies. Me too.
I loved too much, now it is my great country I love.
Even Desdemona’s bones I cannot forget,
so pure, so delicate: I kissed sweet words
when I took their lives. And your ashes, o Desdemona,
with fingers numb and stiff
I now sow as these lines on this clearing.

Jorma Etto, Ajastaikaa (Porvoo–Helsinki: WSOY, 1964), pp. 27–28. Translation and photo by Living in FIN

Arja Tiainen, “I Roll Up the Rug”

Käärin maton rullalle ja paiskon sen
pihalle puistellakseni myöhemmin,
pestäkseni lattiat. Mietin kristinuskon ja buddhalaisuuden
eroja ja yhtäläisyyksiä. Millaista olisi elää tietämättä
synnistä mitään? Miksi juuri mietiskely koetaan pahana?
Täältä ne lähtivät viidakkoihin, käännytystyöhön.
Minun mieltäni ei käännytä mikään.
Kohta katson millainen on täydellinen nainen: tietysti
hänellä on märkä pusero ja pitkät hiukset?
Täydellisistä miehistä ei ole paljon filmejä!
siihen ei miesohjaajien mielikuvitus yllä.


I roll up the rug, tossing it
outside to give a good shake later
when I wash the floors. I think about Christianity and Buddhism’s
differences and similarities. What would it be like living with no
knowledge of sin? Why has it been meditation people see as bad?
From there it was a short step to heading off to proselytize in the jungles.
Nothing can change my mind.
I am about to see what a perfect woman is like.
Naturally, she has a wet sweater and long hair, no?
There are not many movies about perfect men.
They are too hard for male directors to imagine.

Source: Arja Tiainen, Jokainen yksinään paperin äärellä (Porvoo–Helsinki–Juva: WSOY, 1989), p. 63. Photo and translation by Living in FIN

Johanna Venho, “Heavens, How Tired I Was Sans Skeleton”


Taivas miten väsyin ilman tukirankaa
siinä tulituksessa: maailmaan kylmäpanoksia vatsaan
lippaan täydeltä. Oli päästävä pois! vain yksin pysysin koossa.
Syvä-pimeässä. Älä kysy missä olin,
rittääkö: hukuin jo kerran.
Jokin korsi nousi nikama nikamalta,
meriruoko, antoi merkin.

Olen alkanut purkaa ja akvaarion seinää.
Kun tulet, tiedoista en välitä kuulla. Puhu
se viiva jolla vesi leikkaa ilmaa, työntyy ja
imeytyy sen sisään

* * * * *

Heavens, how tired I was sans skeleton
amid the firefight: a clipful of the world’s cold bullets
to the stomach. I had to get out! Only alone could I hold it together.
Deep in the dark. Don’t ask where I was.
Suffice it to say I drowned once already.
A stem rose vertebra by vertebra,
sea sedge. It was a signal.

I have set about demolishing the aquarium wall.
I don’t care to know when you are coming. Speak
the line with which the water cuts the air, penetrating and
absorbing it.

Source: Johanna Venho, Postia Saturnukseen (Porvoo-Helsinki-Juva: WSOY, 1998), p. 53. Photo of Imatra Rapids (Imatrankoski) and translation by Living in FIN

Risto Rasa: Three Poems

Yö oli himmeä, nyt linnut
alkavat laulunsa, crescendo,
on posteljoonin aika.

* * * * *

The night was dull. Now the birds
have struck up their song crescendo.
It’s time for the postman.


Sade kohahtaa kuin katsomo.

* * * * *

The rain murmurs like an audience.


Kohon vierestä
kala nappaa hyttysen.
Voi rannan hiljaisuutta
ja aamuauringon pehmeyttä
etten kyllästy kun
saalista ei tule.

* * * * *

The fish nabs a mosquito
alongside the float.
Oh, the silence of the shore,
the morning sun’s softness.
I won’t be fed up when
I don’t catch a thing.

Source: Risto Rasa, Hiljaa, nyt se laulaa (Helsinki: Otava, 1976), pp. 19–21. Photos and translation by Living in FIN

Johanna Venho, “(Returning)”


Lentokoneesta näen tutun vihreän,
havut ilta-auringossa. Oman ääneni väri,
tämäkö on maa johon minut tehtiin.
Asuin poissa kauan, puhuin särmätöntä kieltä,
nauroin vaikeasti. Tarkkailin muita.
Toista ei voi tuntea: toisen eteen
on mentävä kuin ikonin. Odota.
Joku alkaa kertoa, sana tai pari imeytyy vereen.
Kaipasin näitä ihmisiä: kuulostelua.
Kesäyövaloa silmien alla. Tämäkö on maa
johon hajoan, mullastani kasvaa
syvä, tumma kuusi. Tuuli näppäilee oksia öisin.

imatrankoski (2)


I see the familiar green from the plane,
Conifer sprigs in the evening sun. The color of my own voice,
This is the land I was made for.
I lived away for a long time. I spoke an edgeless tongue,
I laughed gravely. I observed others.
The other cannot be known: others
Must be approached like icons. Wait.
Someone speaks, the blood absorbs a word or two.
I missed these people, listening,
The light of summer nights under my eyes. This is the land
Where I shall decompose, a deep dark fir
Growing from my soil. The wind shall pluck its boughs at night.

Source: Johanna Venho, Postia Saturnukseen (Porvoo–Helsinki–Juva: WSOY, 1998), p. 70. Translation and photo of Imatra Rapids (Imatrankoski) by Living in FIN

Pentti Holappa, “Gamma Radiation Bombards the Walls and Windows”


Gammasäteily pommittaa seiniä ja ikkunalaisia.
Maailmankaikkeuden synty ei ole lakkanut.
Räjähdys jatkuu. Hiljaisuus meluaa huoneissa,
suuri virta kohisee talon rakenteissa.
Taivas räväyttää ulkona sinisen katseen,
vaikka mantereet luhistuvat sen edessä.
Horisontti vaappuu.
Kesytän tuota järjetöntä myrskyä:
kaksi tikkua ristiin
ja siinä on aallonmurtajalle perusta.
Haparoin epätoivoisesti suurta naulaa,
jonka iskisin läpinäkyvään pilariin.
Jossain muistiini uponneena piilee katse,
toverillinen lause ja niitten varaan
sommittelen moniulotteisen illuusion:
ainakin neljään suuntaan, ellei viiteen,
avautuu siitä ovi ja ystävät tulevat,
asettuvat sydämeni kammiohin.
Sanoisin heille, että se turvaton paikka,
eikä sitä ole korjattu pitkään aikaan.
Osoitteeni ei ole tämä,
olen vain naamioitunut olemassaolevaksi.
Petän itseänkin, tunnen kipua ja odotan
lämmintä ihoa ihoani vasten.

* * * * *

Gamma radiation bombards the walls and windows.
The birth of the universe has not ceased.
The bang goes on.
Silence roars in the rooms,
A mighty current overwhelms the beams and rafters.
Outside, the sky casts a blue gaze,
Though before it the continents collapse.
The horizon wobbles.
I’ll break that senseless storm.
Two sticks crossed
Are basis enough for a breakwater.
I fumble desperately for a big nail
I could pound into a transparent pillar.
Somewhere in my memory, a look is submerged,
A companionable phrase. I’ll use them
To design a multidimensional illusion.
In four directions, if not five,
The door will open out and friends come in,
Settling down in my heart’s chambers.
I would tell them the place is unsafe:
It’s a rental flat
And has not been fixed up for a long while.
This is not my address:
My existence is a mere disguise.
Betraying myself, I shall feel pain and wait
For the warmth of skin on my skin.

Source: Pentti Holappa, Viisikymmentäkaksi (Helsinki–Porvoo–Juva: WSOY, 1979), p. 45. Translation and photo by Living in FIN

Risto Rasa: Five Poems


Sain viisi senttiä korkean kaktuksen.
Se on lapsi vasta,
sen piikit taipuvat vielä.

I got a two-inch-tall cactus.
It is a mere child.
Its spines still bend.

* * * * *

Kun siivosin,
löysin kirjan,
joka on kuulunut sinulle.
Mietin millaiseksi olet muuttunut,
oletko vielä puheittisi

When I was cleaning
I found a book
that belonged to you.
I wondered how you had changed,
whether you still looked

* * * * *

Hän on hyvin yksinäinen,
tilasi lehden
jotta joku kävisi hänen ovellaan.

He is quite lonely.
He ordered the paper
so someone would come to his door.

* * * * *

Maassa varis
sulavan kinoksen soittimiin.

On the ground, a crow
tickling a melting snowdrift’s ivories.

* * * * *

Vankilan muurin juurella
mustalaiset iloisesti juttelevat.
Kuuluu pienen pojan ääni:
”Hiljaa, nyt se laulaa.”

Gypsies chat happily
at the foot of the prison wall.
A little boy’s voice is audible.
“Quiet, it’s singing now.”

Source: Risto Rasa, Hilja, nyt se laulaa (Helsinki: Otava, 1976), pp. 5–9. Photo and translation by Living in FIN

Eeva Kilpi: Now I Am Old

karhumaki house

28.5.2002 KLO 24
Nuorena minua autettiin enemmän. Nyt kun olen vanha, minua ei auta kukaan. Rahasta on apua, mutta se ei ole ihminen. Eikä se ole voimaa. Se on vain tietynlaista valtaa. Ja helppoutta sillä voi kyllä ostaa.

12:00 a.m., May 28, 2002
When I was young I got more help. No one helps now I am old. Money helps but it is not a person nor is it power. It is only a kind of authority. And you can, indeed, buy an amount of ease with it.

12.6.2002 KLO 7.45
Minä yritän opetella tätä vanhuutta. Minun pitäisi olla vanha, kaikki odottavat minulta sitä, mutta silti minun on tehtävä kaikki itse, hoidettava asiat, tehtävä päätöksiä, jaksettava toteuttaa ne, oltava oma palveluskuntani, emännöitävä, jos haluan tavata jälkeläisiäni, läheisiäni. Muutenhan minä en siedä ihmisiä ympärilläni. Pitäisi osata olla vanha ja silti jaksaa kuin nuori.

7:45 a.m., June 12, 2002
I am trying to get the hang of old age. I am supposed to be old, everyone expects this from me. I still have to do everything myself, though. I have to take care of things, make decisions, and manage to carry them out. I have to be my own staff and hostess if I want to see my offspring and intimates. Otherwise, I cannot stand having people around me. I should have the knack of being old while still feeling like a young person.

29.6.2002 KLO 22.55
Pitää olla valmis siihen, että kuolee äkkiä, mutta myös siihen, että kuolee hiutuen.

10:55 p.m., June 29, 2002
You have to be ready to die suddenly but you also have to be ready to languish to death.

Source: Eeva Kilpa, Sininen muistikirja (Helsinki: WSOY, 2019), pp. 7, 9, 15. Translation and photo by Living in FIN