More Than the Degree

Room 413 – Creative Writing and Other Discourses


A tribute to the course Creative Writing and Other Discourses  (TAI-L0010) with Raphael Dagold, author of my Bastard Heart (Silverfish Review Press 2014).

This course is offered once a year at Aalto. It is aimed at Doctoral Students in Arts but in fact anyone from Aalto can sign up for it in WebOodi. The course lasts only for a week, but it is one intense week of reading and writing, discussing literature and writing styles.

The next course will be held by Mira Kallio-Tavin in February 2021. The spots are limit, so it’s advisable to sign up early once the registration for Creative Writing and Other Discourses is open.

For me this week with Raphael and a group of wonderful people from all different fields and departments has been a blessing. It was during my first semester at Aalto and has shaped my studies and everything I write. So this here is my little tribute to a course that was unlike any other.

Room 413a

The door is always open, when I arrive at Room 413a.

Come on in, this morning we will do you only little harm.

And then they make you feel things, much worse they make you share things.

And every night during this peculiar week, lived between essays and prose, I feel like an addict.

my saggy mattress on the floor begs me to rest

the radiator of my empty fridge

mutters in the background.

I forgot grocery shopping again

because Raphael makes me read a hundred of pages every day.

Scheiß drauf

all I want to hear is the scratching of a pen on thin paper.

I clench my fingers around the pencil

until my knuckles turn white

and I can count

every single vein on my fist.

just give me one more,

just one more sentence

and one more after that.

But I know I’ll come clean of writing soon and I have to return to my photographs. My camera is already waiting, looking at me with its big lens, aperture wide open.

And then I will miss

Room 4,1,3a.

and the bright teletubby sun beaming through the blinds. Always so very deceitful.

As if we weren’t about to put our darkest childhood memories on the table.

But at least there’s Helmi who can make things less sad.

And Nita who never gets tired of talking about love.

Still, there’s just no way to prepare you for these sessions.

When Einat takes you on a walk with the Johniest John to see the bluest blue.

Agnezhka traps you in an elevator with the ugly one

and Annika sets up dates in glass-walled coworking spaces.

We talk Farsi for breakfast and Finnish before lunch.

We become coders and activists,

queer, black, white and blue

And then John’s daughter kills a spider.


Dominik Fleischmann (MA Photography)

Aalto study options 

Contact email: aaltosquad(at)

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