Online seminar: T-Bone Slim (Matt Valentin Huhta, 1882–1942) – A poet, a radical and a hobo

T-Bone Slim, Self-portrait
30.8.2021 - 13:15 - 16:00
Online, Finnish Literature Society
Kirsit Salmi-Niklander,

Online seminar (Zoom), Monday 30 August at 13–16

The seminar brings together researchers and artists to discuss the life and works of “T-Bone Slim”. This was the literary pseudonym of Matt Valentininpoika Huhta, born in Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio 1882 and died in New York 1942. Matt Huhta was born in a Finnish immigrant family from Kälviä, but created his literary career in English. T-Bone Slim was one of the most celebrated songwriters of IWW (International Workers of the World). His songs “Popular Wobbly” and “Lumberjack’s Prayer” have been performed by many American folk musicians. His songs, columns and aphorisms inspired the Chicago surrealist movement and the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Musician John Westmoreland discovered some years ago that Matt Huhta had been a member of his family. Some unpublished texts by T-Bone Slim have been preserved in family archives. During John Westmoreland’s residence period 2021, funded by Kone Foundation, archival materials have been explored which provide new insight to his family history. T-Bone Slim’s writings provide a source for inspiration to artists and musicians. The seminar program includes musical performances.

Opening words: Kirsti Salmi-Niklander and John Westmoreland

Marko Leppänen: Matt Valentin Huhta’s family history
Lotta Leiwo: Kälviä as a traditional community
Kirsti Salmi-Niklander: Ashtabula Harbor as an immigrant community
John Westmoreland: A lullaby from Kälviä

Owen Clayton (University of Lincoln): Puns, Politics, and Pork Chops: T-Bone Slim’s Radical Satire.
Ville-Juhani Sutinen: Between two languages: was T-Bone Slim's wordplay result of bilingualism?
Saijaleena Rantanen: Women and music in IWW
John Westmoreland: Songs in T-Bone Slim’s unpublished manuscripts

Antti Männynväli: T-Bone Slim as an inspiration
John Westmoreland: New interpretations of T-Bone Slim’s Songs

The seminar is supported by Kone Foundation, The Research Association Suoni and the Future Funds project “Comparative and interactive study of immigrant archival collections” (University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts). The seminar will be streamed at Finnish Literature Society.

The seminar is free and open for all. The Zoom link will be sent to the registered participants before the seminar (26.8.2021).