THE WORLD MIRROR / SPOTLIGHT
Maria Matinmikko’s Colours is the last part of a trilogy. The book was published in February and now the poet looks at her own work in amazement and also a bit suspicious. “The writing took the form of an item, through which it communicates with the world. It is a very strange feeling”, Matinmikko says.
Hanna Hirvonen and Shurouk Hammoud, interview
Milla Selin, translation from Finnish
Where are you from and where do you live now, Maria Matinmikko? Has your place of residence affected your book?
I am from Oulu and currently live in Helsinki. I have also lived in Rovaniemi. Where I live has affected all of my books, traveling has done so, too. I am highly aware of physical existence. The body is always in a place and it has its history and its presence; it is surrounded by a cultural-political-financial frame and personal situations. In my books, places are reflected as experiences of the body and awareness on one hand, on the other there are things like scenery and nature, which appear as dimensions independent of humans.
Why do you write poems?
I write because I love writing, it is a calling and an urge. I want to interact and participate by means of art. Poetry is fascinating in its twilight brightness. Defining a genre is a bit of a challenge in my case, because I think my books are challenging the traditional genres of literature. My work is an anomaly in a way.
Maria Matinmikko’s works challenge the traditional genres of literature.
PHOTO: Uwa Iduozee.
What is your latest book Colours about?
Colours (Siltala Publishing House, 2017) is a book of multiplicity. It is the last part of a trilogy of still lifes. The previous parts were White (ntamo Publishing House, 2012) and Black (Mahdollisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2013). I don’t think any of my works is about any particular thing. Because I want to avoid precise definitions, my answer is that the name of the book alludes to a cognitive-emotional palette, the complexity and conflict of the world, issues of the marginal sexualities and gender identities, and colours of the visible world, among other things. Encountering the incomprehensible, or a sense of it, is also an important feature in the book.
What were the circumstances when you were writing the book?
It was mainly written in Helsinki, but some of the texts have begun in France, Poland and Spain. One undercurrent is societal. In the political atmosphere of Europe and the United States, there is some apparent movement towards a more nationalistic, hostile and fearful direction. Of course there is also resistance to that, and I wanted to place this book partially in that context. On a personal level, I have written this book in chancing circumstances.
How did you publish your book? Did you receive funds for writing from any source?
My book was published by the publishing cooperative Siltala in Helsinki. I received financial support from the Arts Promotion Center and WSOY’s Literary Foundation, but the grants didn’t cover the entire period of working so I have also been employed.
Where can your books be found?
My books can be found in libraries, web stores, and the Academic Bookstore.
How did you feel when you published the book?
I absolutely felt happiness, but the finished book is like severed tissue or an organ bulging out through an incision. You look at it in amazement, it’s curious. It changes and changes, the writing took the form of an item, through which it communicates with the world, shows itself to every awareness in its own way. It is a very strange feeling.
I don’t know how other authors view this, but it is actually quite challenging to speak about the finished work, even though you could think the opposite. It is near and familiar, a kind of flowing, neural, world-soaked sense of the internal, but that is exactly why it is hard to place at an emotional distance.
Are you the same person you were before writing this book? Did it add something to your character or experience?
Writing always changes something, I’m not the same person I was before this book. For me, writing is a special way to think, experience, live and participate. It’s an expedition into the world, language, humanity, the incomprehensible, and the familiar and unknown terrains.
If you weren’t a poet, what would you like to be?
I would like to be a human rights attorney, a dance artist or a photographer.
Excerpt from Maria Matinmikko’s book Colours: