Maria Takolander: Teaching My Son Finnish

 Maria Takolander reading ‘Teaching My Son Finnish’

when i was a child it was minun kotini

the sound of it alone made me safe and whole

then englannin kieli leveraged a hairline crack . . .

i don’t know how but soon the whole edifice was gone

hyvää huomenta i chant to my son each dawn

hyvää yötä i whisper before sending him to sleep

as if the pagan blessing of sunlight and midnight might help

us both—kadonneita lapsia—lost children—find our way home


minun kotini – my home
englannin kieli – the English language
hyvää huomenta – good morning
hyvää yötä – good night

Maria Takolander was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1973 to Finnish parents. She is the author of two full-length collections of poetry: The End of the World (Giramondo 2014) and Ghostly Subjects (Salt 2009), the latter of which was short-listed for a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award. Her poems have appeared in The Best Australian Poems and/or The Best Australian Poetry every year since 2005, and they have also been widely anthologised and translated. Radio National aired a program about her poetry in 2015, and she has performed her poetry on ABC TV and at various festivals, including the 2017 International Poetry Festival in Medellín, Colombia. Maria is also a prize-winning fiction writer. Her short-story collection The Double (Text 2013) was shortlisted for the Melbourne Prize for Literature. Maria teaches at Deakin University in Geelong, where she also lives. Her website is