ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS
July 2, 2015
Risto Ahti [Finland]
Risto Ahti was born on August 27, 1943 in Lahti, Finland. He is the author of over 37 books of poetry, and has had one book, Winter Narcissus, translated into English.
Although his poetry is often described as being the tradition of Blake and other poet-prophets, Ahti’s poetry is also, at times, quite comical. As critic Herbert Lomas has observed of his work:
“He writes like someone who has woken up in a brilliant lucid dream, which sleepers call reality, and now he can't get out of it. 'Listen!' he says. He is not talking to himself, he is talking urgently to the reader, as a needed companion. It is a dialogue, and the reader knows it and knows something is expected of him, something self-renewing. The reader is left to be creative, to solve the riddles and paradoxes that torment Ahti.
Ahti's favourite form is the little narrative – a tale of miracle or foolishness, a surrealistic fantasy, a dream – fables and proverbs that suggest Sufi stories or Zen koans. He uses simple words and sentences; the complexity is in the mind-play, the wit, the spaces between non-sequiturs and the silence between sentences. He creates aphorisms effortlessly, almost proverbs: 'Children flattened at school can only speak as pages of a book.' His humour, though obviously a natural gift, is to disturb the reader into a defamiliarising look at the familiar. 'I said, The sun must have struck her face so strangely I remembered my own face's light'.
But he is not superior to us, nor didactic. The persona dramatises his own dilemmas, using all the resources of playfulness to illuminate himself and us. He incorporates the opposite to what may be his main point: with thesis and antithesis he moves wittily and dialectically towards synthesis. Philosophically, like Blake, Coleridge and Yeats, he is basically a Berkeleyan (a philosopher who's not been disproved, only dismissed)."
Ahti has written of his own writing: “Most poetry is closer to science and culture, trade and industry than to life… Words that hit you right in the face, words that force you to hide or demand that you come out, that is poetry, appearing everywhere, perhaps most seldom in books of poetry [is what I seek].…I hate skill, I NEED. I live out of necessities.”
Ahti’s poetry has won several awards, including the Eino Leino Prize in 1994, the Runebert Prize in 2002, and the Pro Finlandia Medal in 2003.
The poet lives in Oulu.
BOOKS OF POETRY
Talvi on harha (Alpo Jaakola. Jyväskylä: Gummerus) 1967; Runoja (Porvoo: Söderström, 1968); Unilaulu (Porvoo: Söderström, 1972; Katson silmiin lasta (Porvoo and Helsinki: Söderström, 1974); Oli kerran kultakettu (Porvoo and Helsinki: Söderström, 1975; On myös unia (Helsinki: Söderström, 1977; Aurinkotanssi (Porvoo: Söderström, 1978); Lintujen planeetta (Helsinki: Söderström,, 1979; Ja niin rakentuu jokin silta (Porvoo and Helsinki: Söderström, 1981; Narkissos talvella (Porvoo: Söderström, 1982); Loistava yksinäisyys (Provoo: Söderström, 1984); Läsnäolon ikävä (Provoo and Helsinki: Söderström, 1987; Laki (Provoo and Helsinki: Söderström, 1989; Valitse minut (Provoo and Helsinki: Söderström, 1992; Pieni käsikirja (Provoo and Helsinki: Söderström, 1993); Iloinen laulu Eevasta ja Aatamista (Provoo and Helsinki: Söderström, 1995); Iloiset harhaopit.Runoja ja merkintöjä, (Provoo and Helsinki: Söderström, 1998); Ilon ääriviivat. Valitut runot 1967–1998 (Provoo and Helsinki: Söderström, 1999); Aatamin muistiinpanot (Tampere: Sanasato, 2000); William Blake & vimmainen genius (Tampere: Sanasato, 2001); Vain tahallaan voi rakastaa. Runoja ja merkintöjä (Helsinki: Söderström, 2001); Kukko tunkiolla (Helsinki: Söderström,2002); Runoaapinen. Aistisen, tunteellisen ja älyllisen kirjoittamisen alkeet (Tampere: Sanasato, 2002); Sudet ja lampaat (runoja ja huomautuksia) (Helsinki: Söderström, 2003); Oikkuja ja totuuksia. Runoja ja huomautuksia (Helsinki: Söderström, 2005); Runoaapinen. 2, Sanaluvun koetus (Tampere: Sanasato, 2005); Kriittinen mina (Tampere: Sanasato, 2006); Leikkilauluja! (Helsinki: Söderström, 2006); Ei kukaan (Helsinki: Söderström, 2007); Puutarhajuhlat vanhassa piispan huvilassa (kanssapuheita) (Helsinki: Söderström, 2008); Ne kymmenen käskyä (Tampere: Sanasato, 2008); Tie, köyhyys, ilo (Helsinki: Kirjapaja, 2009); Täsmällinen selvitys ei mistään (runoelma) (Helsinki: Söderström, 2009); Neron omaelämäkerta (Helsinki: Söderström, 2010); Metsän mies (Helsinki: Söderström, 2012); Intuitio (Tampere: Sanasato, 2013); Lentäviä kukkia (Helsinki: Söderström, 2013)
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS
Narcissus in winter (Guildford, Surrey, England: Making Waves, 1994)