The Sound of Strength

The Sound of Strength

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The Sound of Strength

Translation of: Voiman Ääni

Sirkka Turkka
Translated from the Finnish by Seija Paddon

6 X 9 inches, 57 pages

Scandinavian Literature in Translation

TURKKA'S LANGUAGE, SO UNIQUELY HER OWN, richly embodies rhythm. It is a language at once strong and brittle and full of drama and sensuousness.... Anne Michaels has said that translation is a kind of transubstantiation whereby one poem becomes another. My enduring aim in translating these poems has been to allow Turkka's unique voice to emerge in all its clarity and richness.

—Seija Paddon, from the Translator's Introduction

"Sirkka Turkka has always been a particularly individual artist, independent of any fashionable trends in poetry. According to the literary critic Juhani Niemi, in her poetry the archaic past meets a modern broken awareness. This is how significant poetry breathes in a timeless and placeless state. A central element of the modernity of Sirkka Turkka's poetical language is disengagement from any conventional characteristics of literary art."

"Poet Jyrki Kiiskinen observes that Sirkka Turkka welds demotic expressions, Biblical overtones, and Finnish pop songs together like a Jesus hanging out with publicans and prostitutes. She does this quite seamlessly, creating a lively verbal landscape. These elements of Sirkka Turkka's poetry make the task of translating very demanding. There are striking lingusitic differences between Finnish and English and a translator needs to have both perception and fantasy."
—from the Finnish Literature Information Centre

The moments one doesn't remember are never forgotten.
When I ran across newly cut grass,
the cathedral doors opened, bells started to chime.
The air was full of pine needles,
and there'll be more of them in the future.
Yes, death is doing its rounds along these shores now,
so it does, Missus, and who might be next.
Whatever I do here or leave undone
will benefit you. What of past sorrows,
the future will bring more.
Power grows, it hurts like an orange-colored duck,
the genuine carpet from Brussels.
Soon something walks across the snow, something pale
in a white morning, soon Losi comes,
how he composed music! Out of the little finger
a beautiful hymn, and I don't have the key
to the gates of his heart.


Sirkka Turkka


In addition to being the first woman poet to receive the distinguished Finlandia Prize, Sirkka Turkka was the recipient of the prestigious Eino Leino prize for poetry in 2000. Noted for ignoring trends and following her own literary path, she is the author of 18 volumes of poetry. In all, her poetry has been published in twelve languages.

Seija Paddon


Seija Paddon was born in Tampere, Finland. She received her Ph.D. in English literature at York University in Toronto and is currently living in Keswick, Ontario. She is the translator of two novels and four collections of poetry. She has taught at Concordia in Montreal and Centennial College in Toronto as well as at the University of Helsinki in Finland. You can find her regular reviews of current Finnish literature in the journal World Literature Today.

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