Miia Toivio

© Sina Lynn Sachse

Miia Tiovio, born in 1974 in Ilmajoki/Finnland, co-founder of the publishing house Poesia, was active as a literary critic, columnist, editor of the poetry magazine Tuli&Savu, as well as a creative writing teacher. Her forth poetry volume Sukupuutot was published in 2019 and won the Nihil Interit Prize fort he best poetry volume. Her poems have been translated into Lithuanian, Estonian, Russian, Italian and Norwegian.

Recording by speech art trio sprechbohrer

Miia Toivio: Rakas Hupsu
By Florian Neuner

Miia Toivio’s spoken piece “Rakas Hupsu” is divided into six parts, plus an introduction and a coda. Sound poems are usually concise and short. Wherever the binding force of syntax and formal schemes known from the canon of lyrical tradition are abandoned, and language is broken down into smaller units right down to its sounds and tones, the question of structural principles is posed differently, or rather anew, each time – as it is for composers who today also no longer have any reliable musical syntax to fall back on. In the linguistic compositions since Schwitters’ Ursonate, structures analogous to musical movements have proven to be viable. This is also the approach of Miia Toivio, who in her piece essentially sticks to spoken Finnish, interrupted by the mediation of non-Finnish phonetic voices, and only in a few isolated places produces individual sounds in music, as it were. The author uses a simple three-line notation scheme and from the music of familiar tempo and expression designations such as “andante,” “largo,” “mezzo piano,” “espressivo,” or “con fuoco.”

Excerpt from the score Rakas Hupsu by Miia Toivio

In the introduction, a poem recited by Miia Toivio is heard on tape; sprechbohrer overdubs the recording with a translation of the text in the language spoken at the performance venue, before switching to Finnish for the rest of the piece itself. The introductory poem exposes the image of mouths as part of an (artificial) landscape and, in a sense, pleads for the primacy of the spoken word: “in the mouth, a poem melts quickly” – thus also referring to the 2012 volume Suut (Mouths), produced as a collaborative work with Marko Niemi, who passed away in 2019. Leevi Lehto pointed out the close relationship of Toivio’s poems “to the physiological and to the body”: “They often seem to be composed of organs (…) they always reach for something else (a new position, another organ, another body, which, on another level, is commonly known as ‘desire’).” Depending on their language skills, the audience will be able to follow the Finnish text or focus on the phonetic-gestural qualities of the piece.