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:
‘Continuing the spacious, plaintive and acute music of her previous works, this latest book is written through with grief at the loss of the poet’s grand-daughter… This frost-laced, snow-laden and quiet world is both a real and a deeply-storied landscape, and Forsström’s careful navigation is a refreshingly delicate wonder which slows the reader’s pace, mesmerising us as we go.’ - Seán Hewitt, The Irish Times, on I walked on into the forest
'This powerful collection of poems is grounded in the natural world and makes the reader feel like they are wandering lost in a forest, as the poet is lost in her grief.' - Sam Sinclair, The School Librarian, on I walked on into the forest
'The overall effect is of a shifting, explorative, textured whole, its repeating and revisited motifs creating the sense of a larger (mysterious, unfathomable) system or universe the whole book is working to understand or grapple with... It's a compelling book I feel sure I will revisit again and again and I am grateful to the translator David McDuff for making it available in this excellent English version.' - Susan Mackervoy, Acumen, on I walked on into the forest
'Tua Forsström’s I Walked On Into the Forest almost defeats commentary – the writing is so pure, transparent and direct that saying anything to or around it can seem worse than redundant...The images are multivalent in a way that feeds on their context in a Modernist sequence or group of sequences. Each image or memory fragment shines both in its own light and in the shifting play of light from those around it. As the book proceeds, the focus of attention broadens to include more generalised meditations on love and loss, the beauty and fragility of life and our relations to the natural world...' - Edmund Prestwich, The North
‘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).
Launch reading by Tua Forsström and translator Anna Crowe for the late Joan Margarit
Bloodaxe hosted Tua Forsström and translator Anna Crowe for the late Joan Margarit to celebrate their new books from Bloodaxe in an online event on 25 January 2022. Tua Forsström (in Helsinki) read poems from I walked on into the forest in Swedish, and the host, Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley, read David McDuff’s English translations. Anna Crowe (in St Andrews) introduced and read her translations from Wild Creature, the final book by Joan Margarit, who died earlier in 2021, with the original poems read in Catalan by writer Josep Llobera Capllonch (in Mallorca).
Dual language Swedish–English edition