My Worldcon drabble(s)

It’s around a month since Worldcon (what! how is it only a month; a gazillion things have happened since then…), so this is probably a good time to post the drabble I shared at the “Why Do Finns Love Their Drabbles” panel on Sunday 13 August.

I wrote a drabble in English, and then, out of a translator’s interest, translated it into Finnish – keeping the drabble definition of 100 words, of course. I discovered – not suprisingly – that I had to add almost a quarter more words to the Finnish version. The bare-bones translation only came to around 75 words. The wonders of an agglutinative language! I can’t see how you’d be able to translate a drabble (adhering to the 100-word format) from English to Finnish without collaborating closely with the original author: to get to 100 Finnish words, there’s so much stuff to add that translating becomes even more like rewriting than usual.

It’s far harder to write drabbles in English, too, in my opinion: you can get way more of an actual story into 100 words in Finnish. I can see why drabbles are so popular in Finland! Anyway, I thought I’d share both versions. Those of you who know both languages will be able to appreciate the extra details I added to the Finnish version. :)

***

Marketing Trick

The sign said: “First poem free!”. The poems were printed in green ink, sold by a woman on a street corner. Why would anyone want a second poem? But I can never say no to free stuff.

I read the poem that night. It was terrible, but I went back to the street corner the next day. I needed another poem. It cost 50 euros.

I went back the day after. And the day after.

By the time I realised the ink was addictive, it was too late. I needed more poems. Needed them more than my life savings.

Right?

***

TRANSLATION:

Markkinointikikka

Kyltissä luki “Ensimmäinen runo ilmaiseksi!”. Runot oli painettu vihreällä musteella; niitä myi mitäänsanomattoman oloinen nainen kadunkulmalla työmatkani varrella. Miksi ihmeessä kukaan edes haluaisi toisen runon? Mutta enhän minä ikinä pysty kieltäytymään ilmaisesta sälästä. Nappasin runon mukaani.

Luin runon samana iltana. Se oli järkyttävän huono ja lisäksi paperiarkin muste takertui kummallisesti sormenpäihini. Palasin silti takaisin kadunkulmalle seuraavana päivänä. Minun oli pakko saada toinen runo. Se maksoi 50 euroa. Maksoin mukisematta.

Palasin seuraavanakin päivänä. Ja sitä seuraavana.

Siinä vaiheessa kun tajusin musteen sisältävän koukuttavia ainesosia, oli jo liian myöhäistä. Tarvitsin lisää runoja. Tarvitsin niitä paljon enemmän kuin pitkään karttuneita säästöjäni.

Eikö vaan?

***

Advertisements

My Worldcon schedule!

I can’t believe Worldcon75 is starting tomorrow! So much excitement!

I am already primed and ready for Worldcon, mostly because I spent the past few days in Uppsala at Reception Histories of the Future: A conference on Byzantinisms, speculative fiction, and the literary heritage of medieval empire. I will probably write another post on the Uppsala conference, but suffice it to say that it was transformative for me. I met so many amazing authors and writers, and for the first time felt truly a part of the SFF writers’ community.

***

But so – WORLDCON! I’m participating in three panels, one of which I’m moderating:

Thu 10 Aug, 17-18: Polyamorous Relationships in Fiction (room 101d)

Thu 10 Aug, 21-22: Reimagining Worlds with Speculative Poetry (room 216)

Sun 13 Aug, 12-13: Why do Finns Love their Drabbles (room 103)

I’m moderating the poetry panel, which I suggested to Worldcon. SO EXCITED. The panelists are Julia Rios, Arkady Martine, and Mari Ness – I’m sure we’re going to have an amazing discussion. Here’s the panel description:

Speculative poetry contains multitudes: explorations of gender, queer readings of fairytales, far-off worlds where our social structures are subverted. How can poets coming from marginalised positions change the landscape of speculative poetry? Can speculative poetry reimagine our world and provide glimpses of a more inclusive one?

***

You will find copies of Cosmos Pen (the magazine my story “Don’t Look a Wish Horse in the Mouth” is in) for sale at The Finnish Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association’s table (Suomen tieteis- ja fantasiakirjoittajat). Do pick up the magazine – it’s got lots of great stuff in addition to my wish-horse story!

I will be at the table on Friday from 17-18.

***

Worldcon will also feature another project I’ve been working on this spring! A Finnish Weird anthology – Finnish SFF stories translated into English – called The Giants at the End of the World, edited by Worldcon75 GoH Johanna Sinisalo and Toni Jerrman. The anthology will apparently be given out to all Worldcon members!

I translated two stories for this anthology, by Tiina Raevaara and Jenny Kangasvuo. Translating SFF was a really great experience for me – challenging but rewarding. I’ve done a lot of translation work over the past 10 years or so, but translating fiction gave me new insights into the process because you have to pay so much attention to e.g. tone as well as just content. The anthology contains stories by lots of major Finnish SFF writers including Hannu Rajaniemi, Emmi Itäranta, and Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen.

***

I will be in social mode during the con, so feel free to come and say hi anytime!

Story news! “Don’t Look a Wish Horse in the Mouth”

My weird Helsinki story “Don’t Look a Wish Horse in the Mouth” will appear in Cosmos Pen, the English-language special issue of the Finnish SFF magazine Kosmoskynä. The issue is going to appear around Worldcon. \o/

I’m so happy to have found this story a home. It’s received positive feedback from a few venues but been rejected; but I think Cosmos Pen, with its theme “Travel Guide to Finnish Weird”, is actually perfect for this odd little story. I don’t often write stuff that could be classified as “Finnish Weird”, but this one definitely qualifies. I’ll have more to say about the story itself when it comes out!

Finnish story “Vierain silmin” in Usva!

I just noticed that the Finnish ezine Usva has published its folklore issue, which includes my story “Vierain silmin” (‘With Strange Eyes’). You can read the whole issue here – well, if you can read Finnish, that is. (I recommend downloading the PDF – it’s got pretty pictures and the text is formatted more nicely.) I can’t wait to read the rest of the stories, they look great!

“Vierain silmin” is set in the Finnish city of Turku, and is a weird urban fantasy thing about the otherworldly perils that may befall a person wandering into a park at night.

Anyway yaaay! I’m just so pleased to have another story out in Finnish. I feel more confident with my Finnish-language creative writing these days; I still write more in English, but I feel that I can write in Finnish too (even poetry!), which makes all the difference.

Some story notes in Finnish, because well, you have to know Finnish to read this story:

Eli suomeksi (en tiedä olenko ennen kirjoittanut suomeksi tässä blogissa, oudon tuntuista!): kirjoitin novellin alun perin kilpailua varten, jossa etsittiin Turkuun sijoittuvia spefinovelleja. Olin hurjan iloinen, että uskalsin myöhemmin lähettää sen Usvaan. Sain Usvan toimittajalta Anne Leinoselta todella hyviä kommentteja, joiden perusteella muokkasin novellin sen lopulliseen muotoon. Käyn Turussa säännöllisesti jatko-opintojeni takia, mutta kaupunki on kuitenkin aina jollain tapaa vieras, ei koti – eli oli mielenkiintoista kirjoittaa sinne sijoittuva novelli. Siinä näkyy jonkin verran “minun Turkuani”. Tosin itse en ole (vielä?) törmännyt kummallisiin rituaaleihin Kupittaan puistossa. ;)

Finnish story coming up!

My Finnish speculative short story “Uusin silmin” (rough translation: “With New Eyes”) will be published in the Finnish specfic ezine Usva. Part of this weekend will be spent working on the small edits requested. Yaaay! So happy to have another story coming out in my other writing-language.

Incidentally, Usva’s current issue is a special English-language one, Usva International 2015. Check it out for some cool Finnish SFF!

This has been a week of good publication news. :) It’s also been a week of ridic busyness work-wise, but I’ll concentrate on the good stuff for now.

Writing music, writing dance

Do you have things that you constantly try to capture in writing, but only rarely succeed, and if so, only partially?

I have several – well, everyone probably does – but the two that I struggle the most to capture are music and dance. I’m deeply into the contemporary Finnish folk music and dance scene; there’s some strange magic in the fiddle harmonies and subtle rhythms, and in the ability to find the perfect dance steps for the tunes. I’d want to be able to write this into my fiction and poems.

So many times, I’ve tried to capture a certain feeling in writing – that feeling I get when I’m dancing, when there’s a group of folk musicians playing, when there’s a perfect trinity of connection between my body&soul, my dance partner, and the music weaving between us. I’ve tried both in English and Finnish. One time this spring I got pretty close, in a Finnish poem. There’s always something missing, though. But that’s part of writing, I suppose – always striving for some unattainable goal.

I’m always trying to capture elusive beasts in words. Intensely physical experiences like dance or the emotions caused by music are perhaps among the hardest things to express in such a different medium. But I always have to keep trying. With every attempt, I may capture even a shred of the moment. Perhaps one day those shreds, as poems and stories, will form a broken mosaic expressing what the experience of dance, of the deep tear-wrenching joy of music is like for me.

“Munankuorikehto” out in Spin magazine

My Finnish-language flash fiction piece about fairies, “Munankuorikehto” (‘Egg-Shell Cradle’), is out in the Turku Science Fiction Society’s magazine Spin! Huzzah! Here is the link to the issue itself (in Finnish).

It came out a couple of weeks ago already, but I was unaware of the fact because I haven’t received my contributor’s copy yet. However, I’m planning to go and check out the magazine in the Academic Bookstore today. I’ve never had my name featured on the front cover of a magazine before, so I think I’m permitted some squee!

Sorry all you non-Finnish-speakers: this story is doubly locked from you due to being a) in Finnish and b) in print only. It’s one of those stories that just came to me in Finnish from the start. I’m so pleased this got published – my first publication ever in Finnish!

Goblin Fruit: Summer Is Dead

Huzzah! New Goblin Fruit!

The newest issue, “Summer Is Dead”, is now available for your reading pleasure.

In it – amongst the other poems which I can’t wait to read (including work by Shweta Narayan, Mari Ness and C.S.E. Cooney!) – is my poem ‘Sorrow-stone’.

This poem has a clear source of inspiration, for once. Sometime in 2013, I was listening to the song Manan unia by the Finnish folk music band Suo. (I’ve translated/language checked the lyrics for their past few albums, for the CD covers.) I was also experiencing strong feelings of frustration on behalf of loved ones who were in pain, and me not being able to help. So, the poem came out.

If you’re interested, here are the lyrics for the song (trad., transl. by me):

*

Through the earth, through Manala,
through all six star-pricked layers of Heaven.

I dream the dreams of Mana:
earth-dreams, tree-dreams.
I am on a dangerous journey, an unknown road,
making my way to the hill of pain.

Pain-mittens on my hands,
pain-shoes on my feet.
I walk on needle-points,
on the blades of swords.

There is a rock on top of the hill of pain,
a hole in the middle of the rock
that collects all our pain.
The rock won’t weep for its pains, its pains.

[Mana, Manala – Kingdom of Death]

*

Stone Telling 11 is live!

Stone Telling 11 is up – and it looks utterly awesome. I am so excited to get to read the other poems in the issue!

And I’m very pleased that my poem ‘Kuura (extract from a Finnish-English dictionary)’ is in such good company and in such a wonderful magazine. I’ve been following ST for quite a while now, and dared barely dream that my own poetry might be in it some day. But I dared to send out the poem, and the lovely editors Shweta and Rose wanted it. Happiness! And they’ve chosen a beautiful picture to go with the poem, too.

‘Kuura’ is the first of a series of poems that seek to “explain” certain hard-to-translate Finnish words and moods through poetry. I haven’t been working on them for a while, but should totally continue with it.

Poetry sale to Stone Telling

My poem ‘Kuura (extract from a Finnish-English dictionary)’ will be published in a “new poets” issue of Stone Telling. Huzzah!

I’ve admired Stone Telling’s thoughtfully compiled and beautiful issues for a long time, so I’m thrilled to be part of this future issue. I’m also very glad that ‘Kuura’ has found a home; it’s part of a series of poetic definitions for Finnish words that either defy single-word definitions or are very strongly Finnish in nature.