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Kaarlo Teodor Sarkia
(May 11, 1902 - November 16, 1945) Finland

Kaarlo Sarkia



Kaarlo Sarkia was born Kaarlo Teodor Sulin in Tyrvää, Kiikka. He was an illegitimate child. Sarkia's mother was Aleksandra Sulin, a poor maid, who fell in love Malakias Korkki, a carpenter; he left her in the Autumn of the same year. Korkki, who later changed his name to Laaksonen, was probably Sarkia's father.

At school Sarkia was a good student, but he was not active in sports and did not have skills in handicrafts. Reclusive and shy by nature, Sarkia spent his time reading books borrowed from the small public library. Sarkia's mother died of lung tuberculosis in 1916; her death was a great blow to him. Sarkia was first tended by his grandparents, and then by Hilda Runni, a weaver. With the help of his local mentors, he was able to study at the coeducational school of Tyrvää. During these years he became fully aware of his homosexual tendencies.

Sarkia graduated in 1923. He served in the army where he contracted tuberculosis in the Spring of 1924. Before entering the University of Helsinki, Sarkia worked in Rantasalmi as a private tutor for a year. In 1927 Sarkia started his studies at the University of Turku. There he joined the literary circle of V.A. Koskenniemi, professor of literature at the university. Already in Helsinki, Sarkia had moved restlessly from place to place.

Kaarlo SarkiaSarkia'a first collection of poems, Kahlittu (1929), received good reviews but sold poorly. Velka elämälle (1931), Sarkia's second collection, included one poem, 'Antinous', which dealt with homoerotic love.

In December 1933 Sarkia moved from Helsinki to Turku, where he began to work at the library of the university. Its chief librarian was the writer Volter Kilpi. It turned out that Sarkia was unfit for regular work. In January 1934 Sarkia tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose of Veronal.

Sarkia's third collection of poems, Unen kaivo (1936), was a commercial and critical successes. Several of its poems dealt with death and loneliness. In 1937 Sarkia went abroad for over a year. He spent first some months in Switzerland, and then traveld to Italy. In Rome, he made a speech against Hitler. Carabiniers arrested him immediately and took him to a doctor.

During the journey, Sarkia composed only a few poems. After returning to Finland, he was tired and could not write. Also the outbreak of the Winter War in 1939 depressed him. Eventyually an alleged love affair released his creative muse. Sarkia's fourth book, Kohtalon vaaka (1943), came out in the middle of the Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union, and included several pacifist poems.

After the war, Sarkia went to Sweden, where he spent a period in a hospital, and came back in worse condition than before - he weighted only 50 kilos. Sarkia died in Sysmä of tuberculosis. He was buried at state expense in Helsinki.


Source: excerpts from the biography by Petri Liukkonen - http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/sarkia.htm

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