Heli Laaksonen (1972) has, ever since her first collection, “Pulu uis” (‘Pigeon swimming’, Sammakko, 2000), been Finland’s most loved and best-selling poet. Her five collections written in the Southwest Finnish dialect have achieved sales figures that are astonishing in the Finnish context, over 200 000 collections and audio books. Laaksonen is a fantastic performer and many of her shows are sold out. She writes about humorous situations in the everyday life, love and nature with a great compassion. Estonian and especially southern Estonian poetry has been a great influence on her becoming a writer. In the 90´s, when Laaksonen was studying at the University of Tartu, she made friends with Estonian dialect poets and discovered she could use her own ‘mother-tongue’ as a language of poetry. Laaksonen´s poetry has been translated into Võru dialect by Jan Rahman (“Maapuupäiv”, Sammakko, 2000), Hiiu dialect by Järvi Kokla (“Ole ise”, EKSA, 2017) She has become a phenomenon also in Latvia thanks to the translations in Salacgriva dialect and Latvian and promotion work by Guntars Godiņš. One of the most popular poems of her, “The Cow and the Birch Tree”, has been translated into 24 languages or dialects. Laaksonen is well-know also for her translations of Estonian authors, she has translated Jan Rahman´s poetry into dialect of Southwest Finnish and Andrus Kivirähk´s works into Finnish.


The Cow and the Birch Tree 


I want to be a cow under the birch tree
I don't want to be creative
I don't want to learn a new software program
I don't want to sort out the relationships of the mothers and daughters
I don't want to take that letter to the post office
I don't want to phone that woman at the benefits office
I don't want to memorise any more pin numbers.
Take my tired hide
and put it in front
of the hearth.

Translated from Southwest Finnish dialect by Mark Phillips ja Christa Prusskijs


(photo by Miikka Lappalainen)