Susinukke Kosola

- Finland -

Daniil Kozlov (who uses the nom de plume Susinukke Kosola) is a Russian-born literary jack of all trades. He has written four collections of poetry and created a bunch of 3D-printed poetic objects. Kozlov is also broadly active in Finnish poetry circles; he is known for his live poetry performances, for founding a small publishing house called Kolera, and for being the originator and editor-in-chief of online national poetry critique portal Runografi. In addition to all these projects, Kozlov teaches creative writing at the University of Turku. He has also occasionally been paid for his work.

New beginnings in a techno-dystopia


The poems of Susinukke Kosola are sparked by the friction that humans feel under the pressure of mechanical systems. The texts represent the rebellion of the life force against automatons and algorithms.


Kosola's self-published 2014 début — named .tik. — was received as something of a new coming of the Beat aesthetic, which is certainly not far off the mark, as the poet favors rushing, descriptive, and rhythmic expression as well as sociopolitical contents. He is also prone to romanticizing individuals who differ from cultural norms.


However, Kosola's poetry shows that the current social environment is completely different from the golden age of the Beats more than half a century ago, and some more naïve hallmarks of the Beat Generation such as a strong sense of nostalgia and revamping of old forms are absent from his poems. Thanks to its insightful and timely themes, Kosola's work may even be said to represent a wholly new phenomenon, namely techno-capitalist-critical contemporary poetry, another example of which came out in 2014, as well, Eino Santanen's Tekniikan maailmat ("Worlds of technology"). These poets both use technology as an engine of their poetics, while contemplating the changes that the human experience of our ecosystems is rapidly undergoing.


Santanen and Kosola both use their poems to record the development of post-Arab Spring social media utopism toward an oligarchical dystopia, the shift from dreams of democratic information societies toward the nightmare of fake news and neofascism.


Kosola's poems are written against the abstract code that is surrepticiously gaining ground on larger and larger swathes of reality. His idiosyncratic lyricism pushes up through the mechanistic phrasing like a dandelion growing through a motorway. Kosola bases his poems on banal and quotidian cultural phenomena, such as lists, especially in his second collection Avaruuskissojen leikkikalu ("Space-cat plaything") from 2016. Lists are an easily digestible cultural standard through which to produce commercially oriented journalism about any conceivable subject, from artworks to cringey life lessons and cat videos.

11. Olet välillä ulospäinsuuntautunut, sosiaalinen ja mukava. Välillä

olet sisäänpäin kääntynyt, varautunut ja jännittynyt.

12. Sinun päämääräsi ja pyrkimyksesi ovat välillä epärealistisia.

13. Turva on elämäsi suurin päämäärä.

(Avaruuskissojen leikkikalu, s. 10-11)


The above list extract is a Finnish translation of part of psychologist Bertram Forer's famous study from 1948. Forer presented the list he had gathered from newspaper horoscopes to his students as psychological assessments of them, and the students gave the descriptions an average accuracy of 4.3 points out of 5. After this it was revealed to them that everyone had received the same list.


The amalgam of serious pathos, intelligent humor, and conscious cynicism is difficult to fit into social media platforms so that it would be understood; literature is perhaps the only possible tool with which to communicate multi-layered messages. Kosola's poetry may be seen to represent the so-called metamodern movement, where the cynical, nihilistic irony of previous ages is countered with sincerity. Kosola makes use of all the processes of postmodernism, but in his poems he attempts to transcend the bleak resignation that often accompanies postmodern expression by seeking and cherishing positive connections instead of oppressive systems.


Kosola's newest and possibly most impressive collection Turkoosi vyöhyke ("Turquoise zone") from 2021 is a lyrical dialogue wherein the addressee and object of affection is more skilled at living life outside the margins than the speaker, who comes across something like the stereotype of the romantic poet building castles in the air.


Turkoosi vyöhyke becomes a study on the color turquoise, which blooms in rust, liminal spaces, and no-man's-lands to which free-living people must flee from the clutches of consumerist pursuits. The focal point of the book is a highly anticipated lunar eclipse. The eclipse symbolizes a respite from the impoverished and discouraging "business as usual" of everyday life.


Kosola delivers themes and styles that are common and recognizable, but also imagery that has so far remained unusual in poetic writing. He is able to utilize the tug of war between the strange and the familiar in the tension of the text; such as when he writes: "the unfamiliar landscape has made its nest in words / it jostles inside them like the shoulders of sedentary workers."


Kosola is the first Finnish person to update the hundred-year tradition of anarchist poetry into the new millennium, to include problems that are systemic in our times. Kosola's poems demonstrate that the quest for freedom is, if possible, even more urgent now than in previous centuries. With the advent of the information age society, capitalism has found even more convoluted ways of getting humans to desire instability, and to even call it freedom. The only thing capitalism seems to be touting to combat the climate crisis is just more stuff and more addictive products, even though they are adding to the problem or at least detracting from real efforts for systemic change.


A significant element in Kosola's poetic life is in drawing attention to the material details of his works, and their value as instruments of exchange. He has often heavily utilized drawings and handwriting, and has produced the layout of his books himself, in highly personalized ways. The entirely hand-written and self-published collection Varisto (2018) was not made available at all in bookshops, or even put on sale; the collection could be acquired free of charge, simply by giving Susinukke himself a strip of paper with a personal confession written upon it.


No one knows, as yet, what Kosola has done or intends to do with these thousands of papery admissions; I would not be surprised if they were to make an appearance in some future work of his.


Vesa Rantama

Translated by Kasper Salonen