Liz Niven: Poems

Liz Niven: Poems

The Great Russian Dream

Berta Jaferova woke,
hair frozen to barracks wall
guards and dogs marching her to forests
in Kolyma’s Gold Fields.

At twenty seven,
her doctor’s skills,
her soul, imprisoned
in Stalin’s Siberia.

At the end of a long day cutting timber,
in rags and blankets for the cold,
snow to her waist,
the log pile tumbled.
And only then she wept.

Even now,
clean hair on warm pillow,
will she lie listening
lest the log stack shifts?

(From Stravaigin, 2001)

The perfect soldier

The landmine is eternally prepared to take victims. It is
the perfect soldier
.”
JODY WILLIAMS, 1997 Novel peace prize winner
and founding coordinator of the International
Campaign to Ban Landmines

Aki Rat hinks he’s thirty.
He’s not sure.
Orphaned in Cambodia,
he was trained,
at five years old,
to lay landmines.
His tiny fingers perfect for the job.

Mine ordonance is good,
and if an orphan blows himself up,
who will care?
Said the Khmer Rouge,
with their sure supply of child soldiers.

Mines, mortars, rockets, claymores, grenades,
fill Aki Ra’s garden;
weapons he’s unearthed.

Outside his schack of bamboo and tin,
there’s shovel, hammes, wrench,
his life now given up
to digging up
the strange seed he’d planted.

(From The Shard Box, 2010)

With the authorization of the author and Luath Press, Edinburgh.

Liz Niven is a well known Scottish poet and PEN member, who recently
visited Finland with readings in Espoo, Tampere and Kuopio.

Skotlantilainen runoilija ja PEN-aktiivi Liz Niven kävi Suomessa huhtikuussa, ja
esiintyi Espoossa, Tampereella ja Kuopiossa. Vierailun yhteydessä Suomen PENin
johtokunnan jäsen Marianne Bargum haastatteli häntä Hufvudstadsbladet-lehteen.
Niven on kotimaassaan tunnettu runoilija, joka työskentelee muun muassa
skotlantilaisten murteiden aseman edistämiseksi. Hän kirjoittaa vuoroin englanniksi, vuoroin
skotiksi. Hän on myös kiertänyt kouluissa ja inspiroinut oppilaita kirjoittamaan
runoja.

Johanna Sillanpää