Book Review | Kai Nieminen’s poems revolve like a thorn in the widow’s loneliness and sadness

Kai Nieminen’s new collection also doubts itself, but despite the narrow perspective, the book is guaranteed about Nieminen.


Kai Nieminen: I woke up again. Basam Books. 85 s.

Poet Kai Nieminen the new collection ending the long release break feels even heavier when you remember the previous one I’m starting to learn (January, 2010). In that work, a spouse of a potter spoken by name Elina was strongly alive, which, especially in hindsight, is also reflected in the worldview of the poems: “the world is beautiful and life is wonderful / and the moment is incessant, / it is not a matter of faith.”

Now the spouse is gone, and Nieminen’s new poems revolve around a thornbill around the widow’s loneliness and sadness. Since Elina has also acted as Nieminen’s presenter, it is unclear to the poet whether the new texts can be called poems at all.

Namely, the definition of a poem seems to include that one has passed the spouse’s screen: “so I no longer write“ poems ”, I tell you what else I can / I agree that you are not, that you are dead / but I have not lost you / and you knew it, you know ”.

Time format change at the end is one of those subtle means that make the new collection of texts as much poems as the author’s earlier ones.

Author and translator Kai Nieminen photographed in the yard of his home in May 2020.

At the same time, they are uncomplicated speech, as Kai Nieminen is a master of poetry, the product of a participatory and confessional poem of the 1970s where his father Pertti (1929–2015) was an archetypal modernist of spherical images.

Kai Nieminen’s poems oppose a metaphor in which one thing represents another. The deep reflection of those born in them always takes place in the middle of everyday life and even in the flow of banal events and thoughts. A poem can still perpetuate something in its form that would otherwise go unnoticed in the midst of the flow of life.

Death is a paradoxical thing. Although the speaker of the poem does not believe in the afterlife, the deceased is still addressed in the present tense. And the talk to him isn’t just about to stop, “you” sit tenaciously involved in every poem in the collection. In dreams, you can also encounter, and many poems tell of nocturnal conversations and coincidences.

Nieminen writes on many of the same topics as before, including the joy of playing, drinking tea, and meeting friends: “when they left, the old familiar feeling of loneliness struck again: the evaporation of joy / when the bringers of joy faded”. Now the call and tea represent a momentary getaway and many of the friends are peer support, other widows.

One can well believe that this book also serves as a peer to many. Those familiar with cultural life can also spot familiar characters on its pages, even if the full names are not used.

The widow also notices changes in herself in relation to others: “I have become more social after your death, / when you have to represent both.”

Elina has left behind a vast legacy that is also of international interest and numerous students who want to continue her work. The poet finds himself having to answer many questions that have always been directed to Elina in the past.

If I woke up again he is not as curious and open-mindedly pondering many topics as Nieminen’s earlier works, he understands it well: grief is a demanding stranger.

However, in the book, the reader can recognize the familiar honest voice and state that this is the kind of life now, at least for the poet-Nieminen. And be thankful that he can express it just like that.

Nieminen has said in public that he is translating a real classic, considered the world’s first novel Murasaki Shikibun (n. 978-1014) The story of Genji, and the slow progress of the work is also referred to in the pages of this book. I dare to hope that new authentic peninsulas will also emerge on the side of a demanding project.



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