I am a Finnish poet, author, poetry activist, social media discusser, wanna be climate activist, who likes to reflect on and question the meaning of literature and widen literature´s borders. 2012 I did a literal performance or experiment which tested if it is possible to make a living out of poetry that is: to publish 12 books in a year. As a part of this project the idea of a book consisting solely of people´s climate or weather memories was born: the second last part of 12 “December” of which this website is a continuation.
I was never the most enthusiastic traveler, but I have done some traveling, visited several recidencies in Europe and in America and also performed a lot also outside Finnish borders. As an adult I have always been afraid of flying which has limited my traveling a bit. Nevertheless during 2016-2017 I flew recklessly, which on the other hand made my world grew a lot bigger. From 2018 on I have tried to travel slowly and avoid flying because of climate reasons.
Now, at the moment when I´m writing about myself to this website the world has suddenly stopped moving.The USA has closed borders. Europe has closed it´s outmost borders. Finland has closed it´s borders. There is a new border between Finlands capital Helsinki and the rest of the country, and you are allowed to cross it only for very compelling reasons. The airlines are giving bankruptcy alerts.
Nobody knows what happens to traveling after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, will the borders stay closed or will the people continue to travel as it never happened. Nevertheless at this very moment the life all around the world looks very similar: Europe is staying at home, America is staying at home, Asia is mostly staying at home.
At home in Turku, 31.3.2020
Amanda Texeira is a visual artist who comes from Porto Allegre, Brazil. I learned to know her in November 2017, in Arts Iceland Westfjords -Residency in Ísafjörður, Iceland. We shared a house for almost a month. We cooked together, did walks and climbed on fjords to pick blueberries. We discussed a lot, also from my project “December”, that I wanted to continue collecting stories about the change in weather, that I wanted to make it an ongoing and updating project. Amanda encouraged me. So it was very natural to ask Amanda to be the first to take part to the “new December”.
Alice Yousef is a palestinian poet who publishes poetry on her blog “Blooms in Indigo,” (http://bloomsnindigo.blogspot.com)Se writes on the Middle East, the Palestinian experience, and the emotions of daily life. She writes in English and her first book of poetry will be published in Spring 2020 by Eyewear Publishing in the UK. I learned to know Alice in Iowa 2016, where we were sharing our lives, sorrows, joys and food and living in the same hotel corridor in rooms next to each other.
Piotr Hoffman is a lawyer who lives in Warsaw but travels a lot because of his work. I learned to know him originally around the year 2002 when we were both doing an Erasmus Exchange in Bremen University in Northern Germany. We started to be in contact after twenty years again in 2016 first via social media, but we have managed to meet face to face both in Helsinki and in Warsaw.
Kathleen Maris Paltrineri is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet from Iowa. She received her MFA from the University of New Hampshire where she studied with Charles Simic. She created Origins: The International Writing Program Podcast while she was the Fall Residency coordinator for the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. In 2018, she was a Distinguished Visiting Writer at Cornell College and a Jentel Artist Residency Fellow. She translates poetry from the Norwegian and is a candidate in the Iowa Literary Translation Workshop. Her work may be found at kathleenmarispaltrineri.com. I learned to know the warmest liveliest sunshiny Kathleen when I was participating in the International Writing Program Fall Recidency in Iowa 2016.
"When I landed in Finland for the very first time in Kuopio 24 December 2000, it was -24 C. Would be good to visit Kuopio on the same day this winter!", ko ko thett wrote to me when I told him about how warm winter we had this year (2020). Burmese poet ko ko thett arrived to Finland in 2000 as a quota refuree and received Finnish citizenship. Nowadays he lives in London. How ever our roads crossed in Iowa, USA, where we were taking part to International Writing Programs Fall Recidency in 2016. Poet, translator and editor ko ko thett was born in Rangoon (Yangon) in 1972. In 1995, whilst studying engineering at the Yangon Institute of Technology (YIT), thett began editing and publishing 'Old Gold', a campus samizdat in Burmese. In the aftermath of Funeral of Old Gold, his second chapbook, he was arrested and detained for his involvement in the December 1996 student uprising. After his release in April 1997, he left both YIT and Burma for Singapore and then Bangkok, where he spent three years working for the Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific. Thett took up peace and conflict studies at the University of Helsinki, before finally moving to Vienna to study with Wolfram Schaffar at the Institute for International Development at the University of Vienna. In late 2015, ko ko thett returned to his native Rangoon. After a residency at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in the fall of 2016, and a book tour in the US, thett has been resettled in Sagaing, in central Myanmar, since 2017. He is the Burmese editor for the Poetry International website and co-editor and translator of Bones Will Crow: 15 Contemporary Burmese Poets, an anthology of Burmese poetry, recipient of the 2012 English PEN Writers in Translation Programme Award and one of '10 books that chart the country's tumultuous history', according to The Guardian. His book of poems, The Burden of Being Burmese (Zephyr, 2016) , the first ever full-length collection in English by a Burmese poet, is listed on World Literature Today's Nota Benes.