Poetry Book Society Translation Choice
Tua Forsström is a visionary Finland-Swedish poet who has become Finland’s most celebrated contemporary poet. 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.
I walked on into the forest is her twelfth book of poetry, her first since One Evening in October I Rowed Out on the Lake (2012/2015), the collection which followed her celebrated trilogy, I studied once at a wonderful faculty (2003), published in English translation by Bloodaxe in 2006.
In some sense a continuation of the previous collection, her new book focuses more acutely on the themes of death and grief, and in particular the devastating loss of her beloved granddaughter. It shows her poetry’s tone of inner discourse shifting imperceptibly towards a new and harsh gravity. As Sweden’s August Prize jury commented on her work as a whole, this is poetry ‘both melancholy and impassioned’, expressing a ‘struggle against meaninglessness, disintegration, destruction – against death in life’.
From the reviews of I walked on into the forest:
‘Forsström has Finland-Swedish modernism in her bloodstream but has kept a coolly timeless tone in her poetry. Her style can with some reason be called classical… What we read slowly reveals its true poetic face – the face of the lament, the elegy… It’s most beautifully and bravely done.’ – Magnus Ringgren, Aftonbladet, Sweden
‘Tua Forsström writes poetry that comes stealing up on you. There is something curious about her poems, a way of adhering to the world that is hard to put one’s finger on.’ – Hadle Oftedal Andersen, Klassekampen, Norway
‘Tua Forsström’s poems have a habit of transforming themselves each time one comes back to them.’ – Erik Skyum Nielsen, Information, Denmark
‘I don’t know what I am going to need on the day that I have to face major loss, but I’m already writing a reminder to myself to go to the bookshelf then and pick out all of Tua Forsström's books.’ – Anna-Lina Brunell, Hufvudstadsbladet, Finland
From the reviews of One Evening in October I Rowed Out on the Lake:
‘This book-length poem by the celebrated Finnish-Swedish poet evokes a wintry landscape where we follow “one another’s tracks through the heart the snow”. A parallel text allows Anglophone readers to follow Forsström’s light-footed, melancholic free verse in the original, guided by David McDuff’s delicate translation.’ – Jeremy Noel-Tod, Sunday Times, on One Evening in October I Rowed Out on the Lake
‘…One Evening in October I Rowed Out on the Lake is a sequence that may be read as one silence-punctuated extended poem. Water, fishes, stars, glitter, dust, rain, wolves, hares: these are among the leitmotifs, and have literal and metaphorical resonance. The natural world intersects at every turn with the moral world, and is intrinsic to Forsström’s love poems and elegies.’ – Carol Rumens, online Poem of the Week, Guardian
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).
Dual language Swedish–English edition