Henry Parland: Nordic Rimbaud

My lies:
large, red balloons
that I buy on the street
and release into the heavens.
Once I bought a balloon
larger and redder than the rest.
It pulled me along.

Henry Parland (1908-1930) is regarded as a poetry prodigy in Sweden, even though he never even stepped foot on their soil. Born in Russia, Parland was exposed to the Russian language at school and German at home with his family. As the 1917 revolution intensified, he fled with his family to Finland, which had recently gained independence from Russia. Parland began attending a Finnish-language high school in the suburbs of Helsinki, but he got bullied so badly that he transferred to a Swedish international school.

At 14 years old, he was fascinated with Swedo-Finnish literature, leading him to run in the same circle as Gunner Björlin, a leading member of the Helsinki avant-garde.  Parland’s eventual friendship with Björling, his wild sexuality, and heavy drinking got out of hand.  No to mention, his parents were freaked out that he was hanging out with a gay avant-garde poet many years his senior, so they sent him to live with his uncle in Lithuania.

“Once upon a time I felt sorry…”

Once upon a time I felt sorry
for a man:
He looked scrawny
and had no business sense.
Then one day
we sat next to eat other
in front of the same mirror

In 1929, when he was 19, Parland released Idealrealisationen (The Clearance Sale of Ideals), a collection of poems and essays, but it wasn’t well received. Then he suddenly died at the age of 22 from scarlet fever. Years later, in the 1960s his pieces were rediscovered by the Swedes. He was like a Nordic Rimbaud.

Photos and info via here and here.
Thanks to Matt Connors for the tip!

And welcome our newest Teenage film intern—Daniel Carlin!