Mike in Finland

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Ward Wood Publishing special offers

Here´s a message from my publisher, Ward Wood Publishing, with news of some great offers and low prices, and a poetry competition that supports a cold weather shelter in London and offers publication for the winner.

Season’s Greetings From Ward Wood Publishing

To help you celebrate, we have some last-minute gift ideas and a competition
in aid of the homeless in three North London Cold Weather Shelters
that could win you publication of your own short poetry collection with Ward Wood.

It’s never too late to send the gift of a Kindle ebook and we have a full selection
of fiction and poetry at prices starting from just 77p.
We keep our Kindle ebook prices temptingly low, so these are perfect stocking fillers
you can send to friends and family or you can treat yourself.

Our full range can be viewed here
and includes the dark, alternative Christmas novel
Everything is Free for 77p.

Other books in our range are £1.53
(Amazon prices can vary slightly and you need to use the Amazon site for your country to buy Kindle ebooks).

If you prefer a paperback,
we have also kept the prices on our website low,
as it’s a great help to small publishers when readers buy direct from us.
You can see our full list here,

including Pam Zinnemann-Hope’s book On Cigarette Papers,
which will be dramatized by BBC Radio 4 on January 8th at 2.15pm as the Afternoon Play.

We have had a great year at Ward Wood and wish you a happy and successful 2014.

If you would like a chance to be published by us, take a look at the
Lumen/Camden Poetry Competition,
which will be judged by Andrew Motion this year.
The winner will have a short poetry collection published by us, and
proceeds go to the Cold Weather Shelters.

You can also help by buying the prizewinning book by
this year’s winner Patricia Averbach,
or the books by previous winners Caroline Squire and Bob Cooper.

Thank you for your support and Happy New Reading in 2014!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Tampere University Creative Writing In English Course

The students on the Creative Writing in English course that I run at Tampere University have set up a public blog with a selection of work produced on the course. The blog is divided into three sections for different categories of writing: short fiction, poetry and song lyrics. It´s all interesting writing so why not pay the blog and visit and leave a message? Here´s the link:



Friday, 4 October 2013

Poetry Reading at Arkadia Bookshop

This is the announcement for the poetry reading at the Arkadia Bookshop in Helsinki where I will be reading with three Scottish poets and one Finnish poet. There will be poems in both languages, including some in translation. I will be reading from my collection, Midas Touch, all in English. Copies of the poets´ publications will be available for purchase. Rumour has it that a glass of wine will be provided to relieve the thirst of audience members. The event is free but the Arkadia Bookshop asks for a donation of 3 euros to cover their own costs. If you are in the Helsinki area, do come along.

A Cavalcade of Prizewinning Poets
Tuesday, 15th October @ 6 pm

Arkadia Bookshop (Nervanderinkatu 11, Helsinki)

Donald Adamson: Tampere-based poet and translator, winner of the Herald Millennium Poetry Prize, launches his new collection From Coiled Roots, which explores life, landscapes and history in Finland and Scotland. His translations of Lassi Nummi have been described by Eeva Kilpi as ‘like the humming of the trees around our human suffering and joys.’ www.donaldadamson.co.uk

Liz Niven’s most recent collection, The Shard Box, (Luath Press), uses multiple techniques to address fragmentation and reconstruction through a Chinese lens. An award-winning poet, she has appeared at Literary Festivals across Europe, China and Australia, recently participating in Clunes, Australia’s National Booktown. She has promised to read her Scots versions of the Kalevala! www.lizniven.com

Up-and-coming poet and translator Aila Juvonen collaborates with Liz Niven on sequences of interactive/correspondence poetry in English and Finnish. Her poems have been read at the Edinburgh Festival and published in Northwords. She is currently working on a novel and a poetry collection. Aila has also published books on her work as developer of the Skidikantti Children's Training programme. www.skidikantti.com

Award-winning writer Chrys Salt has authored five poetry collections. A poem in her fourth collection GRASS was selected as one of The 20 Best Scottish Poems 2012. Described as ‘brave, beautiful and deeply unsettling’, her latest collection Home Front/Front Line records a dialogue in poetry and prose between her and a soldier son, who was mobilised to Iraq in February 2003. www.chryssalt.com

Based in Tampere, Mike Horwood is a UK poetry prizewinner. He has published a translation of Martti Hynynen´s poetry collection, island, nameless rock, and a collection of his own, Midas Touch. Jo Shapcott has commented on `his ability to make simple things in the material world resonate with mystery´. He has also published a novel, The Finn’s Tale.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Lecture: The Life and Work of William Blake

I´m giving a talk about William Blake on Friday 20 September. William Blake is one of the most interesting and influential British poets and artists. He is a forerunner of the Romantic era, a visionary, and held revolutionary views about society, human nature, perception and art.

I´m going to talk about the main events in his life, a little about his personality and discuss a selection of his poems, illustrations and paintings. I will handle these topics at a fairly general level but I hope to be able to give a clear impression of his ideas, beliefs and philosophy and to show how these are apparent in his writing and artwork. and I will have to select examples from his work, of course, because there won´t be time to go into detail. The talk will last about an hour and I hope there will be time for questions afterwards.

And now you want to know where this is going to happen. Here are the details in full:

Friday 20.9 at 18.30 in Tampere main library (Metso), we will be in the upstairs lecture room which is called Pietilä-sali. The talk will be in English. It is organised by the Tampere branch of the Finnish-British society. It is free and all members of the public are welcome.

If you´re in or near Tampere on the 20th September, drop in. I look forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Poetry reading at Arkadia Bookshop in Helsinki

This is some advance information for anyone who will be within striking distance of Helsinki in mid-October. I´m reading at the Arkadia Bookshop in Helsinki on Tuesday 15 October (not sure about the exact time yet, but definitely in the evening). The program is titled, `Four Brits and a Finn´, and I´m one of the Brits, but the only Englishman; the other three are Scots. The Arkadia Bookshop has a very attractive website:


The poetry event is not listed there yet but I imagine full details will be posted closer to the time. I will also post full details, including names and information about the other poets reading and confirmation of the time, here on my blog in good time. Arkadia offers a lovely environment for a poetry reading, plus the opportunity to browse and buy books at bargain prices so I have a strong suspicion that this is an event not to be missed.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Have you read The Finn´s Tale?

This blog receives between 200 and 300 visitors a month on average. I´ve been wondering how many of you have read my novel, The Finn´s Tale, and if so, which country you are from. The novel is easily obtainable via Amazon, Book Depository and the publisher´s website so international markets are well served. In addition, Stockmann´s Academic Bookshop in Finland and Pocket Books on Helsinki railway station have sold a considerable number of copies and I wonder how many of those have been purchased by foreign visitors to take back to their home country as a souvenir as well as a source of information about the Finnish way of life and culture.

So in this post, I am making a request for those blog visitors who have a copy of the book - and that includes the Kindle version, of course - to add a comment indicating their home country. If you´d like to offer a comment on your response to the novel, I´d be very interested in that as well, of course. It would be great if we could find readers from around the world and on every continent so do please let me know where you are (including Finnish and English readers). I´m looking forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The cover of my new novel

My new novel, Arthur´s Eventful Weekend, is due to be published by Ward Wood Publishing early next year. I´ve been working with Mike Fortune-Wood and Adele Ward on planning the cover and it´s now ready. I´m very pleased with it.

I think the title has a slightly quirky ring which I like. I´ll post more details about the themes and story closer to the publication date.

And for those of you who want to know what I do when I´ve just completed a novel, I will tell you: I get to work on my next poetry collection. And that´s what I´m going to do now.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Two favorite recipes

These are two very simple but very tasty recipes. The amounts are slightly flexible and you can vary according to the number of eaters and your own preferences, for example you can vary the amount of stock.

Fennel and Tomato Bake

several potatoes, sliced
1 fennel bulb, sliced
3 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 cup of stock
teaspoon of tomato purée
salt and black pepper

Cook the sliced potatoes and sliced fennel in boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain. Blend the tomatoes, garlic, stock, purée and seasoning. Layer the potato and fennel slices in an oven dish, pour over the stock mixture and cover. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for 1 hour.
It´s possible to substitute Jerusalem artichokes for some of the potato, which I would recommend, actually. I use about 25% Jerusalem artichokes and 75% potatoes.

Broccoli with Red Bean Sauce

broccoli florets
olive oil
1 red pepper, chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
1 can of aduki/kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup of stock

Steam the broccoli for 8 minutes, drain and keep warm. Heat the olive oil and fry the pepper and spring onions until soft. Add the beans and stock and simmer for 3 minutes. Mix the cornflour with a little water and add to the bean mixture. Cook for one minute more. Pour sauce over broccoli and serve.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

From Coiled Roots by Donald Adamson

Donald Adamson is a Tampere-based Scottish poet. He has previously published two pamphlets and his translations from Finnish to English appeared in the anthology How To Address The Fog, published by Carcanet and the Scottish Poetry Library. His full poetry collection, From Coiled Roots, was published this summer by Indigo Dreams Press. The collection as a whole is wide-ranging and eclectic, including a few set in childhood, some that consider aging, some with a historical background and some wonderful, understated love poems that show great sensitivity and delicacy in their use of language; `understated ardour´ is the phrase I came up with to describe the tone. I have added an example of one of the love poems below. There are poems set in Scotland and several set in Finland; some of these name Finnish places, but readers familiar with Finland will recognise a Finnish setting where it is not actually stated as such. There are several versions based on poems by the Finnish poet, Lassi Nummi.

I have read and enjoyed the collection enormously and recommend it highly. The book is available from Amazon or from the publisher´s website

This is a poem from the collection which is reproduced here with Donald´s permission:

What We Found

An hour away from daylight; snow´s
light, blind touching, and the single eye
of a train drawing in.

And all that day, as pine trees
inked themselves on paper fields,
I did not know you

till joking nervously,
we crossed the frontier.
Words were new then, and eyes.

What we found there,
more than from any temperate season, grew

out of the ice and the crystalline
and dangerous purity
of snow.

Donald´s blog is at:
and has several poems, including one from the new collection, and a link to the publisher´s website.

Donald´s website is at:

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Magnifying Glass

Since this blog started life as a poetry blog I reckon it´s time to post a poem. This one is from my collection, Midas Touch, published by Ward Wood Publishing. I have played a little trick in line 3. As is well known, there´s a certain kind of language, or diction, I should say, which is outlawed in contemporary poetry. Archaic terminology has no place in poems written in 2013. The basic premise is quite reasonable, of course, but my inner devil loves to break rules. `Greensward´ is a word that would not be accepted by most editors, quite rightly, I have to admit. Lovely, therefore, to smuggle it in as `green sword´. Heh, heh.

Magnifying Glass

At school we´ve all looked into one,
hovered it over a blade of grass
and seen the green sword´s cutting edge.

We´ve peered at the tips of our fingers,
the geography of whorls writ suddenly large,
and followed the Nile across green and yellow
to Abri, El Khandaq, Khartoum.

When the boy at the back raised his to one eye
and winked hugely, we laughed,
but the side of his face
stepped out of itself.

At arm´s length it made trees shrink
and stand on their heads,
a single leg pointing up
into a grassy sky.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013


Here´s the view at the end of my garden. I call this one `decrepit´, but is it art?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Happy with my new Kindle

I received my Kindle reader last Friday and have been getting used to it. I have to say, I´m dead impressed. I´d heard good things about them from friends who had them so my expectations were quite high, and they haven´t been disappointed. I got the most basic, cheapest model and at the moment I still think it answers all my needs, but I wouldn´t be surprised if I start to hanker after something a bit more sophisticated once I get used to the one I´ve got, and begin to find out more about the extra features on more expensive models. But let´s see.

At the moment I´m reading V.G.Lee´s Diary of a Provincial Lesbian and enjoying it enormously:

A great read. Highly recommended.

I´ve started adding volumes to the Kindle reader. Got my own novel and poetry collection, of course, and a copy of Dickens´ The Old Curiosity Shop and Byron´s Don Juan, both completely free. I haven´t had time to look at them properly yet, but at a first glance the Byron appears to be formatted quite satisfactorily. And I´ve paid for a copy of Vonnegut´s Slaughterhouse Five.

I´ve been amazed by the selection of entirely free books available. In addition, many other books are so cheap that they almost feel free. But not all. There are some titles where the Kindle version is more expensive than the paperback, which I don´t really understand.

Anyway, whilst I´m sure I will still buy and read `real´ books, I´m certainly a convert to the Kindle reader. I´m looking forward to travelling this summer with a couple of dozen books that will fit into a jacket pocket comfortably.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Sampola Monday 15 April

Here is the first part of the topic for our class on Monday April 15. This is another topic which might need a bit of research in order to talk about. There is a second part which I will put up soon.

What´s happening in Britain today?

1. Who is Mick Philpott?
What did you find out about his personality?
Did you find some details that help to give an impression of his character?
What did he do?
Why did he do it?
What was the result?
What was thought to be the first explanation and how was the truth finally discovered?
What is his present situation?

2. How and why has the Philpott case taken on political significance?
What reaction has there been to the case from the media?
How has George Osborne (Chancellor of the Exchequer = Minister of Finance) been involved in the case?
How has David Cameron reacted to Osborne´s involvement?
Why are these issues especially sensitive just now?

3. What is the so-called `bedroom tax´?
How will the new regulations be applied?
Who will it affect?
What controversial change to income taxation was made by the Government in 2012?
What arguments have ministers put forward to justify these changes?
How does the Philpott case fit into these political discussions?
How has the media reacted to this debate?

4. Who is Boris Johnson?
What position does he currently occupy?
What is his background?
What accusations have been made against him?
Would he like to be the Prime Minister one day?

Here´s the second part of Monday´s topic:

Media Issues

For each of the following, explain what the issue is, describe how it affects people, give some examples of each and finally decide how serious you believe the issue to be.

1 Presentation of violence
2 Presentation of women
3 Stereotyping
4 Online Hate and hate campaigns
5 Privacy : And privacy of information
6 Censorship
7 Trivial nature of content and creating a story from very little
8 Bias and misrepresentation
9 Creating panics
10 Dumbing down and loss of concentration
11 Isolation and loneliness
12 Emotional manipulation of audiences
13 Exploitation of audiences
14 Tastelessness
15 Dishonesty
16 Scientific ignorance and cultural ignorance
17 Health and obesity
18 Addiction
19 Crime
20 Access of inappropriate material by the young and easily influenced
Task: Give examples of each issue. Can you add any other issues to the list?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Monday evening Sampola group

There is no class next Monday, the 25th, because it´s the ski holiday week.

The exact location of my favorite fish and chip shop in London that I mentioned in our last class is :

The Rock and Sole Plaice on the corner of Shorts Gardens and Endell Street, just north of Covent Garden.

Here´s some more info:

Fish and chips is quite a tradition in England, but it can vary a lot. When it´s not good, it can be pretty bad. Two key things to look out for: the batter coating the fish should be thin and crisp. If it´s thick and soggy, that´s a bad sign. Secondly, look for chips made from fresh potatoes, not frozen from a plastic bag. The meal should be cooked to order, not cooked in advance and then kept hot until somebody buys it.

As you can see, the chips are made from fresh potatoes. The fish was soft and succulent and really tasty and the batter was crisp and delicious. The Rock and Sole Plaice is highly recommended. And they have outdoor seating with heating.

How do you order your meal? Every fish and chip shop has a list of the fish on offer on the wall behind the counter. You select the type of fish you want. Some types of fish are well known to most foreign visitors: cod (turska in Finnish), sole (meriantura), haddock (very similar to cod), plaice (punakampela). But why not try something a bit different? We had rock salmon and skate. Skate is rausku in Finnish and rock salmon, or rock for short, is actually a kind of shark. Its real name is dogfish, which doesn´t sound very appetising, so they call it rock salmon, which sounds a lot more delicious. And it really was delicious. The flesh of rock salmon is very soft and white apart from some parts where there is more blood in the flesh and it´s a greyish brown colour. It has a large central backbone, but very few bones otherwise.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Here´s a tip, a free Kindle book. If you don´t have a Kindle, you can download a free app to your pc. I have a Mac and I didn´t have to download anything to read Kindle versions.

V.G. Lee's novel Diary of a Provincial Lesbian is free from today until Tuesday. It's already in the top 100 on Amazon US for literary fiction, which is quite an achievement. It's important to download from Amazon in your own country, and it's available on sites all round the world including UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Diary-Provincial-Lesbian-ebook/dp/B00BFGFKSA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1360799431&sr=8-1 and US http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=B00BFGFKSA

Thursday, 14 February 2013

A haiku

I don´t write haiku very often, but I find it an interesting form because of its delicacy. This is one I wrote a few years ago which has survived several purges.

Air as still as glass.
Under the bare damson tree
a broken wasps´ nest.