The Seven String Guitar - Poems 1968-2014
The first poem book by Veijo Baltzar was published in 2014. Baltzar has written poems all his life and now they are published as a book for the first time.
Towards Experiential Philosophy
Veijo Baltzar has actively developed Intercultural Experiential Education since 1974. This is a cultural and pedagogical innovation, a concept and philosophy, which is based on Baltzar's own cultural background, experiences, activities, and pedagogical thinking.
Veijo Baltzar's polemic work addresses the present state and challenges of multicultural Europe. Baltzar maintains that in its current mental and intellectual crisis Europe must face its blind spots with regard to minority cultures and education leading to inequality. This book is a sharp analysis of modern society, the position of young people, the interaction of minorities and mainstream populations, and the problematic of ethnic relations.
Baltzar seeks to offer European society tools for constructing functioning pluralism and for halting the increasing marginalization of young people.
Towards Experiential Philosophy is a translation into English by Jűri Kokkonen of Veijo Balzar's Kokonaisvaltainen filosofia (ntamo 2012).
(…) it may revolutionize the basis of our notions of culture.
Juha Sihvola, Professor of Philosophy
This is a unique project both nationally and internationally and it deserves broad attention and support.
Sami Pihlström, Professor of Philosophy
The Finnish version Kokemuspohjainen filosofia was published in 2012. The translation of this work was supported by a grant from FILI - Finnish Literary Exchange.
In love and war
In love and war is a story about the Roma in the second warld war Germany. Like the jewish the roma also met the fate of a holocaust. Only few survived from the concentration camps or escaped the persecution.
The book is filled with twists in a plot. On the other hand it is a figurative book about the every day life of wandering gypsies. The fear and the modest life. The rich community and the traditions.
Main characters are the people in the tribe of Dromal. Especially his daughter Carinja and Kastalo, an orphan pickpocket raised by streets. The poor and rootless Kastalo is not a good enough fiancé for the gypsy princess Carinja. Emotions burn like fire beneath the surface and love is tested again and again when the lovers flee from the tribe and are sent to concentration camp.
When the mighty Dromal fades young Kastalo rises as a leader in the tribe. Kastalo is trusted and appreciated as a man and as a leader.
When the war comes to an end the and the Allies arrive to Germany the tribe of Dromal is just a memory of itself. Carinjas love towards Kastalo is evident but even then it might not be approved.
The novel was published in 2008.
Risto Blomster on Veijo Baltzar's novel
A gypsy never quits
Veijo Baltzar has constructed a solid, full-blooded tale of Romani beliefs and customs built on a foundation of grim reality
Veijo Baltzar's eighth novel, Sodassa ja rakkaudessa ('In Love and War', Tammi 2008) is the story of a Romani community living on the outskirts of a German town from the end of the 1930s, through the concentration camps of World War II, to the end of the war. Two young Romanis emerge as the book's main characters - Kastalo, an orphan shoe-shine boy and pickpocket who grew up on the streets, and Carinja, a young girl from a respectable Romani family with whom he falls in love. Obstacles to the misalliance arise from Carinja's parents, her brother Giri, and her arranged bridegroom Bustan, as well as the tumult of world history.
The author's own Romani background is reflected in descriptive passages and expressive details as well as in the narrative itself. Without a doubt the most important supporting character is... a horse. In his description of the horse, Baltzar goes deep into his own experience. The horse is present everywhere. The horse understands, gives comfort, senses danger before the people do, and rescues the persecuted in their hour of need - in the end with its own flesh.
The central settings for the plot are the familiar communities of Romani culture such as nuclear and extended families and gypsy camps and, perhaps most important, travelling wagon trains. In the words of the narrator:
The caravan was like a ship, commanded by a captain. Numerous family members with various skills were in the crew: caretakers, grease monkeys, wheel tarrers, navigators, drivers, cooks, cleaners, pilots - plus scouts, storytellers, music makers, singers, and dancers. Weepers and complainers. But they were all one big happy family.
In the story, the caravan led by old man Dromal treks across the darkest periods of 20th century history, and the traditional values and dreams of the Romani hang in the balance. In the end, in a death camp devoid of all human values, Kastalo is forced to make choices that conflict with his own culture.
From a foundation in grim reality Baltzar constructs a solid, full-blooded story of the beliefs and customs of the Romani that springs from a lifetime faith: "A gypsy never quits!" Their means of survival are extremely diverse: for women they are based on social skills and for men on intuition and life experience. A crackling and quick rhythm in the dialogue teases, flatters and argues with the reader, and the brief sentences bring the tale to life.
The suspenseful narrative brings the story to a surprising conclusion. It is a story of unrequited love that ends at a funeral that includes Carinja, her betrothed Bustan, and her beloved Kastalo, who have survived the concentration camps. But who is being buried in this final scene?
Risto Blomster Finnish Literature Society 16.4.2009
Translated by Lola Rogers
Phuro is an extensive epic novel about the Roma, the saga of a family, which tells a tale of the community through that of the relatives. The story takes place in a city by the sea, which is ruled by the aged Roma patriot Mofal, and his brother Marfalo. Because of their love for one another, cousins Carajan and Gimara must flee blood revenge. This story of two families in Europe following the Second World War is built around the theme of forbidden love. They have lived through war, persecution and still remember what happened in the gas chambers. By means of its wide gallery of characters the novel introduces the whole spectrum of Roma culture with its multiple levels and hierarchies. Phuro concentrates in describing the process of change that takes place when new and old culture meet. When the relationship to one's own tradition falls apart greediness and envy take over.
Phuro is a mighty family saga, which draws a powerful picture of the life of modern nomads. It consecrates it's readers to the culture and tradition of the Gypsies. It is also a shocking story of forbidden love and blood-revenge, which drives close relatives against one another. Carajan and Gimara are cousins and children of the most powerful families in the tribe so their relationship is illegal in the eyes of the Roma. There is also a battle of power, ruling of the city, between Carajan and Gimara's brothers. In a fight Carajan kills one of Gimara's brothers and the couple must flee. For their own people they have become outlaws, but there is also a crack in their relationship. In the same time Baltzar's novel deepens into a description of the transitional stage of today's Roma. In this stage against are the traditions and laws that has guided and kept the Roma together and alive, on the other hand the modern broken of age individuality. Baltzar writes the story of his own people at the same time deeply understanding and passionately living with in.
Phuro is also the name of the tribe elder, he is the highly respected holy father. Strong respect towards older people and own tradition governs the life of Roma. For Phuro other people are the most important thing. Mental needs and strong relationships are what this novel is about. Homo sapiens is a gregarious animal, which means that individualism or isolation are not natural. Phuro shows us that other people and strong relationships are the most important thing in the world. Money or lust for power must not go over that.
Phuro is the result of a long process of writing, for which author Veijo Baltzar had been gathering information for many years. The ambitious goal of the author is to offer the Roma people a culturally unifying work, which draws on traditions, laws, myths and rites as they are regarded from within the tribe. To the wider audience Phuro offers a view of the social culture of the Roma, in fine detail and affected by their migrations. For his own people Veijo Baltzar wants to establish a foundation for a common identity and brotherhood. Without an epic there is no nation. Although the Roma are spread around the world, there is still a shared feeling of identity of being a Roma. Phuro is the first one to answer the question who Roma really are, what are ancestors have been, what our values and goals are. Phuro demands us to be proud of our selves.
Phuro has been written at a time when the Roma question is timely all over the world. Organizations are rising up to defend the rights of Roma people to education, a dignified human life and to their own culture. Roma around the world are awakening to appreciate the significance of literature to their national identity. Now it is time for the voice of the Roma to be heard. On the universal level Phuro gives voice to questions of importance to other majorities and minorities as well.
Phuro has awaked a lot of interest. In Finland the book was published by Tammi, part of the Bonnier group, the biggest publishing house in Scandinavia, in the autumn of 2000. Matila & Röhr Productions has reserved the novel's film rights.
Extract from PHURO (2000)
It was spring. A mild wind blew in from the sea, the meadow was green, the trees were in leaf. A festive table had been laid outdoors, but no one was seated beside it as yet. A black bird was flying in a curve in the sky. All of a sudden it dove towards the ground, caught a silver spoon in its mouth from the table, and disappeared over the horizon.The patriarch Mofal, who was celebrating his birthday, was strolling towards the table from the other side of the meadow accompanied by his family and friends, while his younger brother Marfalo approached from the opposite side of the meadow. Both brothers were handsome hunks of men whose hair had already begun to go grey at the temples, but whose moustaches were thick, their strides were manly, their backs were held straight, and their gaze was sharp. All of the men wore wide-brimmed felt hats on their heads and shiny black leather boots on their feet. From their belts hung decorated whips and brass horse-headed scabbards. They had black suits, white shirts with collars and wine-red scarves which were wound once or twice around their necks. The women, for their part, were dressed in long skirts, colourful blouses and flower-covered ruffled scarves. Older women had shawls on their shoulders as well as scarves and wide rings with stones on their fingers which sparkled like the bejewelled eyes of the Prince of Darkness. Around their necks hung necklaces of jangling golden coins and bright cameos shone on their breasts. The maidens' rings were narrower and their stones were a modest red or blue. Around their necks were thin strings of pearls. The littlest girls also wore golden earrings. It was if all the gypsies in the world were on the move this day to honor the patriarch of their tribe, and it appeared as if they were carrying all the gold and riches of the world on themselves. The meadow was filled with purple and luster.
Press quotes concerning Phuro (2000)
Best qualities in the novel are its visual style, rhythm and the characters' poignant style of speaking.
- Irja Sinivaara, Kymen Sanomat
Baltzar has succeeded in capturing in this book something universal for the gypsies. He has packed in one book the incredible feeling, the deepest essence of gypsy culture which is very hard for a non-gypsy to experience. --. All the soulfulness and temperament is so strongly present in the book that its feeling does not freeze on its pages but it rises up in the air almost as sprinkles of gold.
- Anette Åkerlund, Keski-Uusimaa
The story of Phuro has not been tied to any historical time or place. This gives the book a fairytale like, almost lyrical mood. --. The best and most interesting part of Phuro is the vivid description of the modern nomads.
- Sanna Kajander-Ruuth, Ilta-Sanomat
The Black Tango
Elias lies in the lowest steps of the society.
He has lived in foster homes in the the countryside and now he has traveled to the big city.
Elias sells clocks in the railway station under his gypsy cousin Feija's watching eye. Feija is superior in every way. Feija doesn't only know the dark business of the streets but he has Lissu the high-society girl from a white family.
Suddenly Lissu fells in love with Elias and starts to travel with him.
The novel Black Tango was published in 1990 and it is based on things "seen and experienced".
There is a stone in the floor of the cottage. A green, moist stone.
Nobody knows where it came from. Nobody knows who has brought it there. Is it a sign?
The family doesn't know but the stone will change everybodys life. Nobady is the same. Not Karlo or Manu, not Johanna or Sigrid, not Alalaita or the beautiful Saara.
Not even the silent Hemmi. Who carved the tree ant let the knife and the wood decide what will come of it.
The novel Käärmeenkäräjäkivi was published in 1988. The mythic novel was a nominee for the highly respected Finlandia -literary award.
The Crystal Ball of Black Sarah
Black Sarah is a two-hundred-year old gypsy who travels the world with a horse named Hump and a magpie named Tsirikli. Sarah makes her living by telling fortunes.
Really the Hump the horse is Sarah's husband Jalmari and Tsirikli the magpie her granddaughter.
Long time ago Sarah had to conjure her loved ones to animals when she tried to save the trio from the false accusations and captivity. Black Sarah was accused of using evil magic but Sarahs uses only good magic.
One day two children appear to Sarah's caravan. Siblings Taina and Timo are first scared but after a while they become friends with Sarah. Together they get in to an adventure trying to find four virtues. Expedition consists from the siblings, the magpie, the horse and three magical words.
They meet Swampman and Foglady and end up in the strange islands and to quagmires. When the lonely lord of the castle can learn to forgive theft virtue can break the spell. Tsirikli becomes a girl and Hump the horse becomes a man again.
The last magical word brings the children back to Sarah who is eternally grateful for the siblings.
The Crystal Ball of Black Sarah was published in 1978.
In Suonenjoki, Northern Finland around Kuopio, you can find wandering gypsy families with their caravans. They spend their nights in the saunas and vestibules of the homesteads and in the forests in their camps. Some gypsies have their remote cottages in the forest. Cottage is a home for a large family, the whole family with most nights a bunch of strangers.
Fanni and Vihstori have many children and their older daughter Mari takes care of the household and the children. Mari is a young beauty with a temper and with guts.
Roosa and Akseli have many sons and one of the oldest of is Kasimir. When these two families end up in the same area to spend their nigh the young ones meet. Their eyes sparkle and the inevitable happens. Kasimir takes Mari to his caravan and the fierce flee begins. In the beginning Mari is reluctant but she soon understands that she loves Kasimir in good and in bad.
Mari is a story about the wandering gypsies in the countryside. Their ways and their lifestyle. The novel is also a story about women and their position inside the tribe. Woman gets beaten and neglected. It seems as the woman can't do the right thing even when doing the right thing. The right thing is determineted as a right thing by a man. Man also can be good and just if he pleases to do so.
The main characters are before all young people. They feel and do as young and unexperienced people do. The novel is placed around the mid-21st century and the times have changed since then also among the Roma culture. Baltzar is one of the first to write about the Roma culture and he does it strongly.
The novel was published in 1972.
The Engagement of Blood
The Engagement of Blood is a story about hatred between two families. It is a story of a man with a dead heart. He couldn't and didn't want to love. When he learnd it was too late.
The Engagement of Blood is also a story of revenge and destruction. About the destiny that is stronger than a man.
The Engagement of Blood was publishen in 1969.
The Burning Road
Baltzars first novel The Burning Road (Polttava tie 1968, Brännande väg 1969) was a big success and a sensation.
It was the first book ever in Finland that was written about the Roma and their culture, seen as the eyes of a Roma.
It is a novel about travelling, traditions and confrontations with the majority. By marketing his book, he made his culture known inside the majority.
The novel was also published in Sweden.
1968 The Burning Road (Polttava Tie). Tammi Publishers. Novel. The Swedish translation Brännande Väg published1969.
1969 The Engagement of Blood (Verikihlat ). Tammi Publishers. Novel.
1970 Mari. Tammi Publishers. Novel.
1978 The Crystal Ball of Black Sarah (Mustan Saaran kristallipallo). Tammi Publishers. Novel for children.
1988 Käärmeenkäräjäkivi. Tammi Publishers.
1990 The Black Tango (Musta Tango). Tammi Publishers.
2000 Phuro. Tammi Publishers. Novel.
2008 In love and war (Sodassa ja rakkaudessa). Tammi Publishers. Novel.
2012 Towards Experiential philosophy (Kokemuspohjainen filosofia). Ntamo publishers. English translation of the book published 2/2014
2014 The Seven-String Guitar. Poems 1964-2014 (ntamo publishers)