The Finns are in love with me. And I in love with them. This also goes for the Finns who are not really Finns, but have lived long enough in Finland to pass. Say, at least 30 years. There are reasons for the love. But, keeping with the Finnish custom of not saying much, they shall remain undisclosed. There'll be hints. Those with the necessary cultural competence will know just what I mean. At conferences we congregate in silence. We sit together. We touch. If there is talk, or whispers – as the case may be during other people’s talks – then they are produced by me. The same goes with touch. Such bodily or silent discourse usually takes place on a higher plane of understanding than the ordinary. I talk, they listen. I touch, they watch. The Finns are into rescuing. When I go, boldly addressing the now former president of NAAS, “Jopi, write me a note” – during a dry talk – “lest I should die from boredom” – he obliges. When he doesn’t, he gives me a special look, and with his arms demonstratively crossed over his round belly, he says, “I resist.” When we have beers, and another one goes, “my dear, you look tired” – I go: “say something interesting right now, and in an elegant formulation, lest I should feel so old,” he obliges. The Finns always do what I tell them. They know why, and I know why. We acknowledge each other’s presences and powers. My power over them; their presence over me. There is also consensus. I go: “it has to be perfect” – the rhyme – when we invent poetic lines that have rhyme and meter in focus. They agree. But it’s still my consensus. And they know what it means not to be let off the hook. Things are intense. The gaze is intense. Listening is intense. And the laughter fantastic. I go: “all my questions are stringent. I keep it simple these days. Very simple. We approach what we approach.” They go: “good for you” – imperceptible additional nods supply the rest. “We’ll have more of epistemologies of creative writing” – Jopi says, picking on the subtitle of the work that will make me full professor by the end of the year. “Ah,” I say, “creative we shall be, right here and right now.” Leaning on masters. “Which deadly sin can we claim represents us?” I ask. “We’ll suggest it in a limerick right here and right now, over Kilkenny pints and half pints. Sex has to be in it, subversive and implicit – as in any good writing – lest we should all impress each other very little …almost nothing. “And you’ll put it all on your blog?,” the big professors ask. And I say, “but of course. When licence is given, there will be no reason – not to.”

There was a professor from Helsinki
Whose tricksterish ways were quite slinky
He thought he was great
And never came late
But in truth he acted quite kinky.

There was a young bugger named Bent
Whose genius like Poe’s came and went
While writing a paper
His brains turned to vapour
And found all his passions were spent.

A literary critic named Søren
Had views incredibly stern
He hated all queers
And even old dears
Like Ashbery, Keats, and his urn.

There was an old bugger named Jopi
Who came from the shower all soapy.
Rubbed the suds from his eyes
Looked down in surprise
And exclaimed, my dick is a Moby!

There was a high priestess, Camelia
Who people compared to Ophelia
She just loved to touch
It was never too much
Don’t stop don’t stop, let me feel ya.


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