Tua Forsström is a visionary Finland-Swedish poet who has become Finland’s most celebrated contemporary poet. Her breakthrough came when she was still only 30 with her sixth collection, Snow Leopard, which brought her international recognition, with its English translation by David McDuff winning a Poetry Book Society Translation Award.
I studied once at a wonderful faculty is a trilogy comprising Snow Leopard (1987), The Parks (1992) and After Spending a Night Among Horses (1997), coupled with a new cycle of poems, Minerals. Her poetry draws its sonorous and plangent music from the landscapes of Finland, seeking harmony between the troubled human heart and the threatened natural world. As Sweden’s August Prize jury commented, this is poetry ‘both melancholy and impassioned’, expressing a ‘struggle against meaninglessness, disintegration, destruction – against death in life’.
‘Icy intensity…aphoristic as well as mystical…a fragility that is wholly particular…Forsström’s visions of loneliness and despair are tempered by a lyrical pluckiness…the tenderness of snow’ – Adam Thorpe, Observer.
‘Tua Forsström’s poems give a sense of having crystallised under a great pressure…a survey of the landscape of grief, exercises in renunciation and in the affirmation of loss of love, sexuality and communion with others…She belongs to a tradition that includes Rilke, Hölderlin, Paul Celan and the great Swedish poet Gunnar Ekelöf’ – Claes Andersson.
‘Forsström has a superb ability to use the everyday and the practical to get closer to the most complicated elements of life. Her language constantly goes through changes allowing the usual meanings of the words to be replaced by new insights which are a kind of magic ritual. Just like a Native American shaman, she can surely bring forth rain with her poetry if she wishes’ – Gustaf Widén, Hofvustadsbladet.
Tua Forsström: I studied once at a wonderful faculty
Tua Forsström reads and introduces a selection of poems from her trilogy I studied once at a wonderful faculty, either in Swedish with English subtitles or reading the English translations. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed her at her home in Helsinki in August 2009. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed & edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Neil Astley (2017).