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Saila Susiluoto

Saila Mira Milena Susiluoto
Born May 11, 1971, Helsinki

Faculty of Arts student (Comparative Literature, Philosophy and Aesthetics 1999–2001), University of Helsinki
Critical Academy, Writer’s Line 1991–3
Orivesi College of Arts 1991

Writer, performance poet, creative writing teacher
Served in numerous organisations in the writing industry, including the board of the Nuori Voima League 2002–6 (as its Chair 2004–6), the board of the Finnish Writers Union 2009–11, and the panel of judges for the Kalevi Jäntti Prize 2006–

Einari Vuorela Award 2011
Finland Award 2005
Kalevi Jäntti Prize 2001

Special Achievements
Nordic Council’s Literature Prize nominee 2012 (for Carmen)
Poems translated into 14 languages

Photo: Tomi Kontio
Written by Saila Susiluoto (Tomas Sjöblom, ed.)
Translated by
Joe McVeigh

Professional dreamer

My university studies were interrupted in a typical way: book publishing and life took me in another direction. My writing career began at a fast pace and took up all of my time.

In my poetry I start by examining the dynamics between poetry and prose, first in the form of fairy tales and short, narrative poems. The topics brought up in the later poems were myths, other cultures and especially the artistic interaction, rhythms, music and the effects of pictures. The relationship with the reader is particularly important to me in a caring way since the poem is speaking to another person.

Writing is a struggle against crystallization, against the wilting of language. I nobly believe that poetry carries and opens a breathing space for language. Through language, poetry is the lungs of thought and emotions, like a kind of rainforest. Another thing is the way in which this sublimity is realized in one’s own writing. Another hard assignment is how a text never remembers the possibility of what it could be, that it must submit to incompleteness. A poem does not get finished, it is just time and grinding that fossilizes it into shape in the long run. It is like a circle, where poetics and the reality of the poem meet, every time.

Structure interests me, in the same way that prose poetry is interesting to me because of its structure and narrative. These, however, easily stifle the free flowing and mercurial nature of a poem. I feel like I am constantly searching for ways to be in language, seeking to couple these two great paradoxes.



Antikythera, my poetry app for the iPad, is the largest work of mine so far. The possibilities for digital literature inspire me, especially interactivity. The reader’s role is at the centre, seeing which way a poem can be experienced and how it can influence.

Through Antikythera I have been woken up to how difficult it is to receive funding for a multi-art-form project, even if it is co-produced by the university. We lack the structures to support multiartistic and multiscientific projects. There are many contemporary Finnish poets who are interested in digital literature, but the rigid nature of networks and financing makes it difficult to put into practice.

From Susiluoto's Antikythera. Copyright: Shakti Dash 2015/Crucible studio, Aalto University.​​
From Susiluoto's Antikythera. Copyright: Shakti Dash 2015/Crucible studio, Aalto University.​​

More information about the Antikythera app:

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