Inga Ravna Eira

Inga Ravna Eira

Inga Ravna Eira

Michal Aase, Davvi Girji
Inga Ravna Eira: Gáhttára Iđit. Poems. Davvi Girji, 2019. Nominated for the 2021 Nordic Council Literature Prize.

Gáhttára Iđit / Vokterens Morgen / The Guardian’s Dawn is an example of both trilingual linguistic artistry and a virtual gift. Reading it can take you to an unexpected, elevated dimension in that the rhythm, repetition, and depictions in the texts, together with the photographs, come across as a single fused whole.

I see the remains

of sacrificial offerings

and wonder

who left them

and when

(p. 34)

The book is a reflection of the many layers of double communication that is the essence of Sami poetry and what makes the yoik verses unique. The book challenges the reader to listen to and feel the heartbeat of Sami life of a bygone era – in the herding of reindeer, in nature’s pantry, and in the nature of human survival.

The book opens spiritual doors – not doors that can be seen with the naked eye, but those that release your emotions. When even primitive humans no longer remember or have knowledge, the poems’ voices make an appeal for faith in the forces that exist in spirituality.

The alliteration and assonance of the poems invite the reader to utter the verses of the yoik and the reindeer herder’s shouts to their shepherd dog. The voices in the poems allow the reader to become acquainted with traditional Sami words in a natural way.

In the percussive poems, you can almost hear intestines rumbling in a symphony of sound that is simple, yet still so advanced in a present day when it really takes a will to survive. The poems can also be experienced as prayers of thanks for the food provided by nature and the reindeer. 

In some sequences, you can be overwhelmed by the musicality of the poems, because at times the musical expression can almost drown out the very message of this masterpiece by Inga Ravna Eira. It is precisely this sense of visual sound-painting– the so-called onomatopoeic icon – that characterises the intimacy between reader and poem.

The poems follow the traces of Sami cultural heritage and values from the earliest times to the present day. The content of the book helps us see how the basis of Sami life has changed and at what cost. Previously, the Sami tolerated insults and being trampled on without objection. In recent times, the Sami have risen up together to oppose abuse and demand justice.  

I create

and I shape

I narrate

and I yoik

I can do it

and I master it

I can do it

Yes I can do it

I can

(p. 43)