From northern Greenland, 24-year-old Inuk poet Aka Niviâna uses poetry as a form of activism to raise awareness about climate change’s impact on her native landscape and to preserve the stories and knowledge of her Indigenous peoples. Following her reading at the rights-focused 2019 Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany, she here shares two poems and insights into her chosen art form.
“I chose poetry as a way of expressing myself, because that was the field that felt natural to me – writing. I somehow always focused on environmental issues. Inuit mythology has been a part of my work, and the stories that teach us to protect nature.
“The first poem was a poem I shared at the Climate March in Copenhagen in 2017. It is inspired from Inuit mythology with the forces of nature. I don’t remember how long it took me to write, but I remember I recalled the stories from when I was a kid: for example, Sassuma Arnaa, or “Mother of the Sea.” I hope it will show people another way of looking at nature. I always felt that I had a personal relationship with nature. I sometimes wonder if it is because of these stories, where you give forces of nature names and in that way personalize them.
“Poetry, as with other art forms, can speak to us on different levels. I feel that in the art space, you leave room for mistakes, for conversation. For humanity. I am not an expert on a scientific level, but I am an expert on being a human being. And we definitely need our humanity in this situation.” –Aka Niviâna
Mother, Mother Nature
Anaana. Qujanaq inuunermi pingaarnernik ilinniartikkamma.
Forces of nature, Mothers of Inuit
Dangerous if needed, if not well treated
Not as a punishment, but as a reminder –
If they vanish, we do too and there’s no we without you
Sila is in everything we feel, but can’t see
Nuna is the Earth, including every mountain and tree
Melt the Ice in the Heart of man, that’s how we’ll be free
Until then, we stand up, you can’t ignore us you see
We’ll be louder than the storm from the sea
Stronger than the forces trying to silence me
Resistance is no game, but necessity, clearly
Anaana taught me, do the right thing – scary as it might be
“Don’t forget – they want us gone and our culture too.”
“Giving up is easy, this World will help you to –
But the truths they’re hiding, will eventually show –
I hope it’s not too late, when they’ll finally know.
We are the Future
They tell you to make a choice,
that you better make it right
“The World is at your feet”,
they tell you with a smile
But does that only bring comfort,
if you think, just for a little while?
Wars, disasters, death and destruction
To make a change in this World,
seems to me,
to be the only option
If we are to prevent this planet from self-destruction
Though we walk this planet,
with our soulless feelings as our guidance, disconnected from ourselves,
from each other – equals violence
Equals endless spirals of eradication of our environment,
zero spiritual alignment
Not only is the World at our feet,
but in our hands,
it’s our job to make future plans
Will it be “eternal division”
or “together we stand”?
Will there be light at the end of the tunnel, or will the tunnel crash down,
make it all crumble to the ground
Making it no longer matter if we lost or we found
Will we all sit down,
wait for it to happen,
or will we rise,
before the waves comes smashin’,
the thunderstorms starts flashin’
– when will reality kick in?
When will we realize,
there is no time for us left to wait for a savior?
When will we realize,
that the savior we’re waiting for….
We are the hope for the future,
because we are the future.