Katri Vala was born Karen Alice Wadenström. Her family fell into poverty after the death of her father. Vala was beginning to write by the age of 11. In 1922, she graduated from teacher's training school and she worked as an elementary school teacher in several remote areas of the country. In the mid-1920s, she had an affair with the poet Yrjö Jylhä. She later married and had children. Vala’s early poems were published in the periodical Nuori Voima in the 1920s. During the Depression, she earned extra income by contributing to magazines and translating Swedish poets into Finnish as well as Heinrich Heine, Comtesse de Noailles, Ernst Toller, and Bertolt Brecht. Her work often has been compared with that of Edith Sodergran, and like her, Vala died young of tuberculosis in Sweden. Vala was one of the leading poets of the modernist Tulenkantajat ("Torchbearers") Group, and her book of verse entitled Collected Poems (1945) was published posthumously.