Saturday, 13 December 2014

Stravaig - Call for Submissions

Calling all intellectual nomads! Stravaig is seeking submissions of essays, poems and images for Issue 4 on the theme of 'Intellectual Nomads'. Contributions are invited by Monday 12 January to the editors Nancy Campbell at and Norman Bissell at

Stravaig is the Journal of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics. Issue 3 (edited by Elizabeth Rimmer and Norman Bissell) can be read online here.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Material Word

The open day at The Poetry Library in London earlier this month had 'The Material Word' as a theme. As part of the event, a selection of works that challenged the boundaries of poetry were on display.

10 Sentences by Ian Hamilton Finlay

Great cover design for A Valentine for Noel by Emmett Williams

M : Writings '67 - '72 by John Cage
(which eerily fell open at this page:
'We're in a confusion of / books. Bonfire?')

 From the Private Tutor series, invented by Simon Cutts and operational between 1967 and 1970. (Good news: the whole series will be digitally available on the Poetry Library's online magazines' website from 1 December 2014. See

Thanks to poets and library staff Chris McCabe and Saradha Soobrayen for including How To Say 'I Love You' In Greenlandic in the display in both the fine press and small press editions. It was good to see visitors able to handle both works during the day.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Terrain Nonfiction Prize

Sketch of snow crystal by René Descartes

The Library of Ice, my essay on ice cores and human readings of frozen water, has been awarded the Terrain Nonfiction Prize for 2014. The Library of Ice can be read online at

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Oxford and Greenland are Closer than they Appear

The Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle upon Tyne is always full of good things. On a recent visit I was glad to discover the World Prefix Map (hanging on the wall behind the scenes in the Bindery, where I was being supplied with tea and biscuits). The map - which at a guess comes from the 1970s - shows that Greenland, in 'the new Worldwide Amateur Location System', has the Prefix OX, my current UK postcode. And Oxford, confusingly, is given the prefix G.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Proverbs of Water

My sequence Proverbs of Water is featured in The Rising of the Waters, the latest journal from Dark Mountain. I'll be reading the poem at the launch on 3 December at Free Word Centre, London. Meanwhile, you can get a taste of the editorial here.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Hallowe'en Editions

Alchemy (2006) Letterpress by Roni Gross

As Hallowe'en approaches a reminder that these are the last few days to catch They Cast No Shadows: Hallowe'en Works from Zitouna Press over 25 years at The Centre for Fine Print Research, UWE, Bristol. The exhibition - which showcases printed multiples made annually for Hallowe'en by New York artist Roni Gross - runs until 31 October. 

Further details about the exhibition including my catalogue essay are available online here.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Material Words at The Poetry Library

The Poetry Library at London's Southbank Centre has acquired a copy of How to Say 'I Love You' in Greenlandic for their collection. Both the original fine press edition of How to Say 'I Love You' in Greenlandic and the miniature MIEL edition will be on display at a one-day celebration of the material word, held at the library on Sunday 16 November. Free and all welcome, details here.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Lines in the Ice

My latest book ITOQQIPPOQ - which was acquired by the British Library in the summer - will be shown as part of the British Library's exhibition Lines in the Ice: Seeking the Northwest Passage which runs from 14 November 2014 to 29 March 2015. Lines in the Ice examines the role of the Arctic regions in the making of the modern world. ITOQQIPPOQ will be in the company of early European maps of the Arctic, Inuit accounts of the coming of explorers and writings from the long search for the explorer Franklin. The curator has contributed a post to the BL's American Studies blog which gives an exciting glimpse of some of the other works that will be on show.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Manchester Artists Book Fair 2014

I will be showing my work at Manchester Artists Book Fair later this month, and I'm delighted to announce that I'm sharing my stand with visiting New York artist Roni Gross, who has been invited to give two printing masterclasses at Hot Bed Press in Salford (details here). 

We're looking forward to presenting some of our recent collaborative projects, including the first UK showing of Tikilluarit. The Book Fair is a great opportunity to talk to artists about their work, so do visit if you are in the area. 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Arctic Events in Oxford

You are warmly invited to come and celebrate the launch of my (small) UK tour at The Albion Beatnik in Oxford on 30 October. I will be joined on stage by the magnificent MacGillivray, of whom more below. (Other readings will happen in Newcastle, Brighton, Bristol, Bedford and London this winter.)

The Albion Beatnik
34 Walton St, Oxford, OX2 6AA
30 October 2014
Free entry
Wine bar available

MACGILLIVRAY has walked in a straight line with a dead wolf on her shoulders through the back streets of Vegas into the Nevada desert, eaten broken chandelier glass in a derelict East Berlin shopping mall, headbanged in gold medieval stocks in Birmingham allotments, burnt on a sun bed wearing conquistador armour in Edinburgh’s underground city, breast-fed a Highland swan in Oxford and regurgitated red roses in Greenland.
She remains the clan chief.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Arctic Events in Newcastle

In November the Lit & Phil in Newcastle-upon-Tyne will host two events as part of the series Quujaavaarssuk and the Queen of the Sea. The Lit & Phil is a venue full of character, which possesses - among other things - a mesmerising collection of early literature on the Arctic - I spent several months researching in the stacks on my return from Upernavik in 2010. 

Ice and the Imagination

Tuesday 4 November 6pm


This wintery workshop will take classic works of polar exploration and natural history from the Lit & Phil collection as a starting point for new writing about ice, snow and the environment. Poet Nancy Campbell will introduce work by contemporary writers on the subject and guide you through prompts to create your own poems and stories.

Seven Words for Winter: Arctic Poems

Monday 17 November 7pm


In this reading Nancy Campbell will evoke the atmosphere of ‘the most northern museum in the world’ on the remote island of Upernavik in Greenland. These poems describe the disappearing arctic language and environment and retell the colourful myths of the Inuit coastal community. The evening will open with readings of new work from writers who participated in the Ice and the Imagination workshop.

Numbers are limited so booking is advised for both these events.
Please contact The Lit & Phil, 23 Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SE
Tel: 0191 232 0192 

Thanks to Arts Council England for supporting these activities

The Arctic Book Club

‘Our words are a kind of rescue team on a relentless mission to save past events and extinguished lives from the black hole of oblivion, and that is no easy task; along the way they are welcome to find some answers, then get us out of here before it is too late. Let this suffice for now, we’ll send the words on to you, those bewildered scattered rescue teams unsure of their task, all compasses broken, maps torn or out of date, yet you should welcome them. Then we shall see what happens.’ From Heaven and Hell by Jón Kalman Stefánsson

This winter you are invited to explore the Arctic … in five books.

Starting in October, the Arctic Book Club will meet every month in Oxford. Over a traditional Greenlandic kaffemik (cakes, coffee and chat) each month we’ll read and discuss a recent piece of writing about the Arctic, from fiction and travel writing to poetry and essays, including Barry Lopez’s classic Arctic Dreams and Hannah Kent’s highly-acclaimed recent novel Burial Rites.

No specialist knowledge required – this will be a fun and friendly way to learn more about the growing genre of writing on the polar regions. As well as the main titles, I can offer suggested background reading for super-keen or speedy readers.

These meetings are free. Places are limited so booking is essential. Email me ( for more information or to secure your place.


Monday 6th October
 - Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (novel)
Monday 10th November - Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez (natural history) 

Monday 8th December - A Dream in Polar Fog by Yuri Rytkheu (novel) 

Monday 12th January
 - True North by Gavin Francis (travel)
Monday 9th February - Open forum. Bring your own favourite Arctic reads to discuss and recommend. (I'll bring a selection of recent poetry collections on Arctic themes by British poets, and read some traditional Inuit poems - in Tom Lowenstein's excellent translation.)

I am grateful to Arts Council England for a Grant for the Arts to support this activity

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Poems for summer

Here’s some summer poetry reading recommendations (with a narcissistic twist).
Two poems from my Greenlandic series have been accepted by The Rialto, one of my favourite magazines – notable for its glorious artwork (the exuberant cover to this issue is by Angie Lewin). You can buy The Rialto in all good bookshops, and here. From Norfolk to Melbourne, where How To Say ‘I Love You’ In Greenlandic features in Australian Poetry Journal 3.2 – this is a special full-colour edition of the journal devoted to Concrete poetry. I discovered several exciting new writers and artists in its pages. Another arctic poem ‘Fragment’ will appear in Magma 59, on the theme of breakages. Finally, an extract from my long poem The Course of Empire, set in Massachusetts, appears in Stravaig, the journal of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics, edited by Elizabeth Rimmer. It is available online to all for free here.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Arctic Encounters

Dr Simone Abram reads Itoqqippoq

The groundbreaking research project Arctic Encounters: Contemporary Travel/Writing in the European High North invited me to exhibit a selection of artists' books at a conference on The Postcolonial Arctic at the University of Leeds in May. The exhibition represented a selection of work created during the last five years, both my own books and those featuring my poems designed and printed by Roni Gross and Peter Schell of Z'roah Press in New York.

Arctic Encounters describes itself as 'an international collaborative research project that looks at the increasingly important role of cultural tourism in fashioning 21st-century understandings of the European Arctic. The project’s general objective is to account for the social and environmental complexities of the High North – an area which incorporates some of Europe’s most geographically extreme regions – as these are inflected in the mutual relationship between a wide range of recent travel practices and equally diverse representations of those practices framed in both verbal and visual terms (e.g. travel writing and documentary film).' I encourage readers to read about the project's progress on their blog.

The conference was an exciting opportunity to exchange ideas with leading international thinkers on many aspects of Arctic life. I learnt a great deal, and my conversations helped me develop ideas for future projects. I'm grateful to the Arctic Encounters team and the School of English at the University of Leeds for their warm hospitality.
Kaffemik: Discussing the (Icelandic) weather with Ingrid Medby and Michael Leonard
A talk on my work in the Alumni Room (under the watchful eye of Jon Silkin)

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Vantar | Missing At Lady Margaret Hall

My year as Visual & Performing Artist in Residence at Lady Margaret Hall is drawing to a close, and this month the building was transformed by the appearance of Icelandic snowscapes: my new work, Vantar | Missing. Rather than turning one of the grand function rooms into a conventional exhibition space, Vantar | Missing was installed in the winding corridors at the heart of the college, which corresponded to the zigzag paths of the avalanche defences featured in the work. 

The avalanche is a subject that has haunted me since I first spent time in Iceland in 2012. Avalanches caused 198 deaths in Iceland during the twentieth century, but it was not until 1999 that avalanche defences were built around Siglufjörður, the small town at the northernmost tip of the island where I was living. Now, these subtle feats of engineering Stóri-boli (Big bull) and Litli-boli (Little bull) have become part of the mountain landscape, a barely perceptible human intervention dividing the town’s remaining inhabitants from the wilderness. 

This project has led to the publication of a new book and a print series, in which diptychs record changes in mountain snow cover and domestic interiors. The Icelandic word ‘vantar’ refers both to a lost object or person and to the experience of loss. People lost in the mountains are a frequent trope of Icelandic literature, from the sagas to contemporary crime fiction. I wanted to consider this theme from the angle of the people left behind.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Arts Council Award

My application to Arts Council England's Grants for the Arts programme for funding for the year-long project Arctic Poems: Quujaavaarssuq & the Queen of the Sea has been successful.

This project supports the completion of my poetry collection, and an associated programme of events in London, Brighton, Oxford, Bristol and Newcastle.

This collection surveys the culture of arctic Greenland from prehistory to the present, with a focus on the hardships experienced by indigenous communities under colonial rule during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The poems address the tensions between modern life and traditional means of subsistence in the Arctic, and explore themes of cross-cultural communication, cultural and species extinction, landscape and climate change. Many of the poems use forms that are strongly linked to oral performance such as ballads and pantoums. The sequence entitled Quujaavaarssuq and the Queen of the Sea retells the legendary journey of the Greenlandic hero Quujaavaarssuq to beg forgiveness from the Queen of the Sea, who destroyed the ice as an act of revenge on the humans who pollute her waters.

The poems will be performed at five readings around the UK during 2014 and 2015. An associated series of six free workshops (The Library of Ice) held in Oxford this winter will introduce new audiences to contemporary writing on environmental themes. Details of these events will be announced over the summer.