Featured Poem

A cloud in oil from ‘A Triptych Stained with Mazut’

There is
Floating down Varyogan river.
Boat, oar and nets are
saturated with oil.
If you disembowel a pike
the whole knife is stained with oil.
There is no place
to take water for a kettle.
Reindeer’s legs are covered
With oil,
Someone runs out of a neighbour’s place
with disastrous news to tell.
Even the crow’s belly
is greasy.
The clouds in the sky
too have darkened.
There are oil blots
on the lap of the choom.
The black line
Has crossed my forest…
Little reindeer of my childhood
why are you crying so hard?
The smudgy face of yours
I’ll wash with morning dew.

(Mazut is a form of low quality fuel oil peculiar to the former USSR.)

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About the translation:
» Read translator's notes
Juri Vella
Katerina and Elena Zhuravleva
Original language:
Nenets (Western Siberia)
Series 3 Number 16 - The Dialect of the Tribe

About the author

Original poet

Juri Vella

Juri Vella is a western Siberian indigenous poet who belongs to the tiny group of the Forest Nenets (circa 2000 people). But h...

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Katerina and Elena Zhuravleva

Katerina and Elena Zhuravleva are sisters. Katerina is an artist and translator, Elena is a sociologist. Despite the differenc...

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