Poetry Practise

poetry-720610_1920

 

This article contains amateur poetry written in verse (barring the two short ones at the end). I’ve wished to write poetry for quite a long while now, and being part of the BTSB crew gives me the opportunity to actually publish it, as well as the chance to review it at a later date.

Of writing poetry, I have the following to say. Firstly, it is surprisingly difficult. I had four major points to consider; rhythm, metre, rhymes, and general expression of what I wanted to say. For me, I feel as the rhythm was the most difficult aspect (it remains far from natural in what I present in this article) – perhaps this is felt by other ESL speakers and writers as well. Secondly, writing poetry feels weird. I constantly felt like I was, in an indescribable way, pitting myself against someone or something. Lastly, whilst I thought trying my hand at poetry was extremely enjoyable, sometimes I felt like abandoning it all and writing an article about something easier and, more importantly, less personal.

The short verse-snippets in this article tell of the lives (usually in a mocking tone) of the Nine Worthies, a set of heroes named by 14th century French author Jacques de Longuyon. The Nine Worthies include the following characters, listed in order of appearance in this article; Hector of Troy, Julius Caesar, Joshua, King David, Judas Maccabeus, King Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of Bouillon. Alexander the Great is, of course, the 9th Worthy, but I opted not to write about him at this time.

In my poetry, I thought it wise to allude to the KJB and Shakespeare’s works to show off what I had read before. Likewise I found it difficult to resist the opportunity to include puns and wordplay. Unfortunately, these factors might make understanding what I aimed to say difficult – and therefore ruin the poetry. This is somewhat ironic, as I have always thought that reading amateur poetry was annoying specifically for this reason. With that being said, I had fun in trying out poetry, and hopefully you, the reader, might be inspired to give it a go one day.

 

Here we lay our scene, played by writer lone,

accompan’d by nine Princes of ages lost.

Set betwixt mind and map, in realms unknown;

wherein man meets Human, at an untold cost.

Should thou seeketh sorry savoury purpose

for wit-working writ in this-like domain,

know thus: it is jealousy of sweet corpus

given life by Poets born nevermore again.

Righteous removal of hatred and hope

mine noble effort doth aim to achieve,

purposing to will a will: graciously cope

with thine deficits, and thyself not deceive.

An unjoyous task be an unsightly view,

howbeit combined, us ten may our sins subdue.

 

 

Down in the deep darks of Underworld dwelleth thou now, paragon.

Once-worsted warrior, won by Worthy wrath, answer I: wert thou war’s pawn?

Virtue or Vice, venture we to weigh, be Man’s grim glory-greed by nature:

opinions oppos’d ought to cull, ere culling come their feature?

Heracles-hatched held thou not, as title; heroic deeds were-

thy toil to Troy’s tale. Thus, live in legend, lacking mine rage to incur.

 

 

Follow we hence an Ancient with another,

driven to decimate this well-Worthy rank

with cruelty akin to that conferr’d by brother

and heavy heir, whose heart in happy jealousy sank.

Then fall, res publica! no father, mother,

no dictator can truly-taught treachery thank;

bloody betrayal will any bond-breath smother,

right-rooted trust from former-friends’ souls yank.

 

Thy death promis’d propagators prosperity,

power war-won, and Divinity dismal:

most bounteous boons by bandit-business.

Follow’d annihilation of austerity;

th’estate of august Athens’ heirs, turned abysmal-

thy life and reign tainted, by want of wiseness.

 

 

Now after the death of Kaiser, our words spin

backwards in time, speaking of asp y Nun-son,

whose deceitful deeds Worthy-worth, held by his kin-

worth the while, deems only I, of being justly undone:

the tribes of th’Twelve would without thou have won.

O Clandestine conqueror; ill cit-servant;

thy victories aptly amount to Cain and one.

In viperous Vices wert thou fervent,

epithets of these Worthy, bestowed by the observant.

 

 

Comes next not Nero, but an other

of his kind; a sonorous song-writing King,

whose fiery feud with fiendish Foe slayed tother.

A Man hosting Heavenly heart, with offspring

of Greatness well-deserving; to this cling,

since thy sovereign sling better never brought.

Saviour-spawning for, honour thy memory we ought.

 

 

Writ or sang, may be songs of gallant heroes

which here world hath witnessed manifold-

many ascrib’d fame, some reduced to zeroes;

thy name thine ruin foretold, fair friar of old.

Holofernes himself hesitated,

in revealing thy nature and natural-name.

Designated traitor, art thou ill-fated

to suffer the slings and arrows of defame?

Revolting as thine atrocious acts are,

take in this: from Iscariot’s vile will art thou far.

 

 

Dragon-descendant boast thee thy title, bear king;

Lord of the castle, Protector of a table-

grandeur and chagrin both did thy knights thou bring.

Lo! of their fearsome feats tell many a fable.

In stories, yea, unmatched remains thy glory,

as testament to power of the auditory.

Without contest, likewise was fair thy Queen,

whose affairs arduous were deemed obscene.

Fine a match in matrimony; thou and her!

save there a sea of spears had between thee been.

Myth equal the merits of eager exertion, Sir.

 

Tedious tales of warlocks, and Knights Green

may – perchance – fail to entertain those keen.

What is fiction? but display of smoke and air;

as Revels are ended, what remains on Scene?

Myth equal the merits of eager exertion, Sir.

 

 

Emperor.

mannered King

conquering, uniting, governing.

Inviolable, untouchable a ruler.

Father.

 

 

Of Bouillon hail thou, good God-Fear,

King of Jerusalem! oh dear!

Renouncing the title,

thought our man vital;

but he died after a single year.

 

Meet the Freshmen

knowledge-1052014_1920

Fall at the university is wonderful. The beginning of new courses, trees on the Metsätalo courtyard shimmering with coppery colors, and most of all, excited freshmen running around and wreaking havoc. But who are these newcomers and what are they up to? BTSB interviewed four of them.

 

Illustration by Kaisa Leino (c)

Illustration by Kaisa Leino (c)

Axel Meyer, 18, comes from Helsinki and has enjoyed his time at the university so far.

What made you choose to study English at the University of Helsinki?
Though I might have less of a humanist background than most people here, I’ve always had it as an option for building a possible teacher’s career. It became a reality when I found out I wasn’t accepted to the Class Teacher Program at the University of Helsinki, which was my first choice. I wouldn’t want to try getting there again now that I’m here, of course!

Did you take some time off school before starting at the university or did you come directly from high school?
I wanted to keep my study routine firm so I took no time off in between. Now I’ve just got to figure out when to slot in military service and all that stuff.

How have you liked being here thus far?
I’ve enjoyed my time here for sure. I’d say this is the right place for me with interesting lectures, fun leisure activities, and nice studying friends. The tutors have been great, too.

Have you had a chance to check out any parties or SUB events?
I’ve attended all but one or two of them so far, I think. They’ve been lots of fun!

Which minor subjects are interesting to you?
I was actually thinking about Philosophy at first, but I’ll probably end up taking Swedish in some form. It’s my mother tongue, after all, plus it’s a good combination for someone interested in becoming a teacher.

Which area of English philology do you find interesting now?
I’m a big fan of Ernest Hemingway and William Shakespeare, so naturally the literature courses appeal to me. However, I can’t put my finger on anything that wouldn’t have been at least a bit interesting to this point.

What do you plan to do in the future?
Well, I do plan to become a teacher someday as I think it would be a suitable job for me. If that doesn’t turn out too good, I guess I’ll just use my English degree to create memes or whatever. I hope to permanently move to Canada one day too. That would be pretty cool, eh?

Any greetings you’d like to send older students and other freshmen?
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

 

Illustration by Kaisa Leino (c)

Illustration by Kaisa Leino (c)

Mira Pohjanrinne, 19, comes from Karigasniemi.

 

Where are you originally from?
From this little village called Karigasniemi, but I usually just say that I’m from Utsjoki since I went to upper secondary school there and, well, it’s basically the same: cold and far, far away.

Are you living in Helsinki now? How has it been to live in Helsinki (if you haven’t done so before)
I am. It’s been fun! I was already really familiar with Helsinki when I moved here, since many of my friends live here and I’ve visited the city a lot. What surprised me the most was actually that that a place that is as different from Utsjoki as possible can feel like a home so soon.

How about studies?
It’s been interesting. It’s fun to use English every day, and the teachers are really nice. So far there hasn’t really been anything that wasn’t in the entrance exam books, but I’m sure it’ll get harder soon enough. All the fellow freshmen seem nice too!

What made you choose to study English at the University of Helsinki?
Well, like I said, I was already very familiar with Helsinki. It’s also really easy to visit Utsjoki from here, because I can fly straight to Ivalo or Rovaniemi. I also wanted to live somewhere where students have something to do, and Helsinki has really active student organizations among other things. And yeah, I kind of like really wanted to get as far away from Utsjoki as possible.

Have you had a chance to check out any parties or SUB events?
Well I’ve been to a few of PPO’s parties and SUB’s orientation week and Fuksiaiset.

Which minor subjects are interesting to you?
I’m going to become the coolest teacher ever, so pedagogical studies and maybe Swedish? I kind of want to study Asian studies as well, especially Japanese.

Which area of English philology do you find interesting now?
You’re asking this way too soon.

Any greetings you’d like to send older students and other freshmen?
Thanks to our lovely tutors who made sure we knew what to do and where to go! And thanks to everyone who made Fuksiaiset happen! And for the freshmen: I’d really like to get to know as many of you as possible.

 

Illustration by Kaisa Leino (c)

Illustration by Kaisa Leino (c)

Venla Siikaniemi, 19, is half Finnish, half German student from Helsinki.

 

How have your studies have been so far?
I have really been enjoying them so far. Although the lecture format is new to me, I’ve quickly gotten used to it and learned to stay focused for the whole 1,5 hours. The homework assignments aren’t that difficult either, but they tend to be time consuming.

What made you choose to study English at the University of Helsinki?
I’ve always been interested in languages, because I am bilingual myself. English happens to be the language we get to hear the most. It is presented to us through movies, music, tv-series and social media. I fell in love with the language many years ago, and the technical side of language studying – meaning phonetics etc. – has also started intriguing me lately.

Did you take some time off school before starting at the university or did you come directly from high school?
I came directly from the German high school of Helsinki. Although I did do a mini “gap year” during June, as I went on an epic Interrail adventure with my best friend.

How have you liked being here thus far?
I couldn’t be happier about my choice to come here. I’m so glad I get to study the language I love in the city that I love and with people that I’m beginning to love too.

Have you had a chance to check out any parties or SUB events?
Yes, many actually. We were partying through the whole orientation week of course, but also after that I’ve attended things like “fuksiaiset”, “sub goes hiking” and other fun events.

Which area of English philology do you find interesting now?
The spoken English lecture and small groups are my favorites at the moment.

Are you interested in doctoral studies?
I’m not sure yet. We’ll have to see about that.

What do you plan to do in the future?
I want to become a multilingual teacher in a Finnish or German high school.

Any greetings you’d like to send older students and other freshmen?
It has been great to get to know new people here and I hope we will all continue to be social and open towards new students and generally all the people we come across during our lives, let’s make a positive difference at least in our own environments.

 

Illustration by Kaisa Leino (c)

Illustration by Kaisa Leino (c)

Samuel Onatsu, almost 19, from Kerava.

 

Are you living in Helsinki now? How has it been to live in Helsinki (if you haven’t done so before)?
Yes, I actually just moved in last Friday and it’s been quite crazy. I have an amazing view of the city and the sea, I love it. Helsinki is not unfamiliar to me, but it’s been quite strange living by myself. There’s no one to talk to! And all the work work work work work.

What made you choose to study English at the University of Helsinki?
English has always been my strong suit if not my strongest suit. I love the language and I needed some place to belong. What pulled me in was the study of literature, drama and poetry.

Was the entrance exam hard?
I wouldn’t say so. If you studied hard, which I did, it was quite easy. There were some challenging parts, but that was mostly on the translation side, which I did not have enough time to spend on.

How have you liked being here thus far?
The student life is an exciting new chapter, maybe just the fresh start that I needed. There’s so much to learn, many new people to meet and too much going on at the same time. It’s a lot to deal with, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

Have you had a chance to check out any parties or SUB events?
As much as I’ve been able to. Love it. More parties, please!

Which minor subjects are interesting to you?
I’ve been thinking about TV and Film studies, maybe theatre studies, because what I really want to do is acting and film-making. Oh, maybe even some kind of literature. That would be amazing.

What do you plan to do in the future?
Hard to say, but as much as I can. More theatre, more writing, more arts in general. I aspire to be an actor one day, that’s my plan.

Any greetings you’d like to send older students and other freshmen?
Be spontaneous, be courageous. I think university is the best place to embrace who you truly are. Here you will find your people inevitably.

To the Deep End… Of a Doctoral Degree

Here at BTSB, we have been quite apt at talking about various aspects of student life. Among other things, we’ve covered writing an MA thesis, working whilst studying, and various tips for freshmen.

What we haven’t talked much about has been what happens after one’s studies. The reason is two-fold, and actually quite simple. First of all, not that many of our editors have graduated and kept on writing (two, the number’s two). Second, life sometimes gets in the way of hobbies such as these and taking the plunge into working life tends to sweep one away.

I managed to keep working an honest, steady, 9-5 job for a full year after getting my MA, before making a total U-turn and applying for graduate studies in English philology.

Getting the hat

Getting the hat

Getting a PhD had become a very tentative plan when I still worked on my gradu and the idea hadn’t shook when time came to start working on the application. Somehow, the safety, perks, and pay(!) of a 9-5 job weren’t enough to keep me away from returning to at least four years of financial instability and an uncertain future in the laureled halls of academia.

Somewhat ironically, right when I got accepted, the government issued plans to cut university and research funding for years to come. A few years back, the criteria for getting into graduate studies had become more severe as well. This really wasn’t the best of times to go at a PhD.

Why bother then? Am I just cray-cray or could there be some kind of universals for what might be decent reasons to apply to graduate studies? Honestly, it’s hard to say yet as I won’t actually start for another two months, even if  I have a journal article under my belt already. Still, there have been a few realizations that have steered me to this course that might be helpful for others thinking about a life on the grant lane.

First, research is as much an artform as any other. The act of doing research, in my very limited experience, gives a similar thrill as writing a story, or engaging in a heated debate, or any other form of self-expression. Sure, as a literary scholar-to-be, I’ll always be a step away from the “actual” art that I want to study, but still the words I write, the thoughts I formulate, are something that no-one else has written or thought of before. That’s creation at its purest. (Let me here make clear that this thought is plagiarized from Merja Polvinen, PhD.)

Second, research is a kind of passion. What I’ve realized during the process of honing my plan for a doctoral thesis has been that conducting a study is a chance to immerse in something one cares deeply about. I’ve loved literature from a very young age, found some of the most fascinating ideas from science-fiction, and learned to see the world around me in terms of narratives. To go for a PhD gives a chance to engage with the things I’ve always loved.

The third realization is a little more mundane, but still significant. It also needs a bit of backstory.

I got into the university thinking that I’d become a teacher, preferably in high-school, after some five years of effective studies. In subsequent years (and there were several), I went on to complete teacher training and realized that teaching in a school was probably not for me.

I did find an intrinsic value in the feel of the classroom, in the chance to enlighten and inspire, and in the dynamic between a teacher and their students. In contrast, the societal pressure on schools, their rigid boundaries (brought on by the matriculation exam, for example), and the repetition of the ins-and-outs of the English language had me leave teaching to the more capable and enthusiastic hands of my peers.

Striving for a career in academia, I get to aspire for the aspects of teaching I did enjoy. Sure, I will have traded the rigid architectures of the educational system to those of the academic one, but that’ll hopefully be compensated by the two other realizations and all the surprises I will not be prepared for.

At the different stages of deciding to apply for a PhD, various advisors have done their best to keep me from idealizing the university life. I think I’ve managed to get a realistic outlook, but still can’t be sure that I’m cut out for a huge project such as this, or the future it might lead to for that matter. However, isn’t that the very question at the heart of every significant life choice? Sometimes, diving into the deep end is the thing to do if one wants to see below the surface.