Literature Niko Hallikainen grew up in Eastern Helsinki on television and dreams of living in Hollywood – A book was born from dreams in which a young man longing for love meets hundreds of men in online sex sessions

Performance poet With Niko Hallikainen was a dream.

Since it has not been possible to pursue the dream, especially in isolated Korona times, he wrote it down “as a written gift to himself”. However, it so happened that in his debut work, which was published in early January Canyon (Otava) Hallikainen also happened to write his dream to death.

“Like many of my childhood age groups in the 1990s, I have had a very American dream of life since I was a child. I am from a poor single-parent family and dreamed of moving to the United States and to enter Leonardo DiCaprion for adoption, ”Hallikainen, 31, says.

The foundations of this dream were laid in the young man’s mind in front of the television in the living room in East Helsinki, with Videos from Music Television and Oscars.

We lived in a time when Renny Harlinia and his then wife Geena Davisia flew around summer festivals in Finland to marvel at the people discouraged by the recession.

“It felt like it could happen to me too. Would be a famous Hollywood actor and externally wonderful life. My book is kind of an examination of this childhood dream, ”Hallikainen explains.

The dream was firmly built on the deceptive sand of fantasy: during his school days, Hallikainen did not fall in love with real people, only with distant stars. “The surrounding reality was so heterosexual that feelings of love remained at the level of fantasy.”

Canyon is a passionately corporeal, bottomlessly tragic, and carbon black humorous depiction of the longing for love of a depraved, unstable young man.

The novel’s narrative self has no name, and glimpses of him can only be reached from the reflections of the hundreds of men he encounters in webcam sex sessions.

Camera sessions roll over the reader with a mass of 25 pages. Indeed, Hallikainen says that he wanted to deal with the intentions and desires between men in a claustrophobic cramped space.

Sex obsession brings violence closer together. HS Literary Critic Antti Majander wrote last June in its assessment Janne Saarakkalan from the first book Happily Ever Afterthat the book “marries more often and shamelessly than in a hundred years the history of Finnish quality prose combined”.

New year, new record.

Hallikaista is interested in writing in terms of unreasonableness. “I wanted to explore where the limit goes that something is already too much, like the description of sex.”

Text and emotions are intense. Middle road Canyon there is no in the world.

“Life frightens me that seeing here never gets what it wants most sensitively. Life is a Ghost Train. I’m going to get it fucked in and out of my mouth like a crying speech at a funeral. ”

According to Hallikainen Canyon is a “hypersexual installation with themes of love, erotica, dreams and how these three collapse”.

Despite his conscious construction of the text, the first-time author also found that the text was made by his author. At first, he wrote himself a dream relationship with an Oscar-winning actor in the city of dreams in Los Angeles.

“He smells of rose geranium, desert sand, big palm. Canadian hip hop rings from the speaker poles in the downstairs living room, he dances for me. It’s all too much, too much, too much, too much. ”

“During the writing process, I noticed that my character was just starting to quarrel with his love object. When writing, I wanted to build for myself a relationship of my dreams that I have never had, but it didn’t even work on the level of fiction, ”Hallikainen says and laughs.

The work prose-poetic language that uses exaggeration as a means of narration is familiar from Hallikainen’s performance poetry.

Hallikainen, who has been a dance critic and curator of the international Sivuaskel dance festival, also teaches creative writing in the degree program in dance at the Theater Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki.

Niko Hallikainen at the House of Performing Arts Mad House in Helsinki in autumn 2019.­

Hallikainen discovered performance poetry in 2018, when writing about the artistic work of others no longer satisfied his own need for creation. Performance poetry refers to poetry specifically intended to be performed on stage, rather than written as text, by its authors to the audience themselves.

“Before that, I hadn’t had anything to do with performance poetry. Yes, I knew about the beat poetry tradition and that cliché picture where someone plays bong drums and another recites a poem somewhere in a bar to the beat of a vague rhythm. I thought it might sound good to recite my own poems to the beat of ambient music. ”

Hallikainen began to write poetic texts in English. “In English because I experience it as my emotional language. As a kid, I learned English on TV by watching cartoons from Cartoon Network, ”she says.

In three years, six solo works were born, including The Firstborn, which dealt with mental loneliness Blue Exhaust, told of a suburban child Low Income Glow and most recently Black Mercedes, a five-hour speech by a princess Dianan For televising a funeral. Black Mercedes was due to premiere at the Baltic Circle Theater Festival in November, but the premiere was canceled due to a corona pandemic.

Hallikainen’s style is to recite his prose poems consciously monotonously from the screen of his cell phone, “because it’s humorous”. His solo performances have been seen at the Flow Festival and Kiasma, among others. In the same style, he himself has read as an audiobook as well Canyon.

Hallikainen’s solo works are not narrative, but play with the abundance of material and small details he has picked from his own life.

“It’s meant to confuse what’s true and what’s not.”

The same is true To the canyon.

The book writing has always been Hallikainen’s goal. However, realizing this dream took some time because finding the right writing style took time. At first we had to find the kind of literature that Hallikaista was interested in. It was not found in Finnish literature.

In 2017, while doing his master’s thesis on blood-utilizing performances by queer male artists, he discovered the American New Narrative movement. New Narrative is an experimental writing movement born in San Francisco in the late 1970s, especially among gay and lesbian poets.

He mentions himself as important writers in the movement Kevin Killianin, Eileen Mylesin and Cookie Mueller. Their works have not been translated into Finnish.

“The New Narrative novels dealt a lot with corporeality, identity and sex. The sentences are poetic and confusing in structure. Getting to know these texts was mind-boggling. Although Canyon is not New Narrative, it opened up to me the potential of what prose could be. ”

There are also many ethical and moral border crossings in the New Narrative texts, as well as the deliberate confusion of true boundaries within the text.

The question of the limits of truth is also strongly related to controversial autofiction.

Although the book also includes his own experiences, Hallikainen says that he tried to create “literary conditions in which experientialism and fictionality complicate and confuse each other”.

For example, in the webcam sessions of the book, he says he wanted to address the gay cruising culture of the 1980s and 90s brought to this day.

“I read about an American artist activist who died of AIDS David Wojnarowiczin diaries in which he described his cruising. Gay men went to abandoned factory halls to have sex anonymously. Today, the cruising culture has also digitalized. In the canyon the site described is kind of a documentary about a webcam site, but all the videos in the book are completely fictional. ”

In the American in the dream catalog, the hero rides at the end of the story at sunset.

What does Hallikainen do when the childhood American dream of a wonderful life is now ridden to death?

“I return to my roots in Eastern Helsinki by television. I am now writing my next novel about my poverty and its impact on sexual growth. ”

The competition for HS’s first book prize starts

Helsingin Sanomat The prize for the best debut work written in Finnish will be awarded for the 27th time in 2021.

The € 15,000 recognition to be announced in November 2021 continues the tradition of the J. H. Erko First Book Prize, awarded between 1964 and 1994.

The ten finalists of the competition will be nominated at the end of October during the Helsinki Book Fair.

The jury included journalists Suvi Ahola, Arla Kanerva, Sanna Kangasniemi and Antti Majander (chairman) as well as the author Eino Santanen and recognition last year in a novel Marches won Terhi Kokkonen.

In general, the jury is informed of at least 70 literary premieres each year.


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