Nancy Campbell

Disko Bay

£9.99

Dimensions: 216 x 135mm
ISBN: 978-1-910392-18-8
Pages: 64
Format: Paperback

Shortlisted for the 2016 Forward Prize for best first collection

The Arctic has long been a place of encounters, and Disko Bay is a meeting point for whalers and missionaries, scientists and shamans. These poems relate the struggle for existence in the harsh polar environment, and address tensions between modern life and traditional ways of subsistence. As the environment begins to change, hunters grow hungry and their languages are lost. The final sequence, Jutland, moves the reader to the northern fringes of Europe, where shifting waterlines bear witness to the disappearing arctic ice.

 

Nakuarsuuvoq / The night hunter

I am a poet. I am writing about Aua, the night hunter
and how his feet compact the snow and leave deep traces
as he passes my door destined for the harbour
where his boat is moored. I never see him. He might be a ghost

but that his feet compact the snow and leave deep traces.
When he is sleeping, as if by agreement I go to the shore
where his boat is moored. He might be a ghost. I never see him
emerge from the long darkness. In the brief daylight,

when he is sleeping, as if by agreement, I go to the shore.
I see drops of blood, and strange soft ochre things
emerge from the long darkness in the brief daylight.
The ice shelf bears the mark of sled and knife –

I see drops of blood, and strange soft ochre things.
All through the night none may yawn or wink an eye.
The ice shelf bears the mark of sled and knife.
The shaman tells the village, bound to him by hunger:

‘All through the night none may yawn or wink an eye.’
I am a poet. I am writing about Aua, the night hunter
who is bound to the water, as I am bound to him by hunger.
I hear him pass my door, destined for the harbour.

Disko Bay