When the fisherman dies Fleinvær stories spill out
silver strings, like guts from a spring catch.
But between these pages they survive.
The Arctic Diaries chart generations of the characters, myths and misremembered details that make up the oral traditions of a windswept archipelago in Norway’s far north. Created over a single arctic winter, using stories gathered from the last surviving fisherman of Langholmen, this collection of poems are part history, part field notes, exploring what role the outsider plays in preserving the experience of another.
Melissa Davies brings us to a dot of land in a Norwegian archipelago, in midwinter, where she has listened deeply. This haunting collection soaks up the island’s folklore and wildness; its tastes and sounds, and distills them. The Arctic Diaries honours the island of Fleinvær and the people who live there; Davies has captured island life in lines as clear and sharp as ice.
Melissa Davies carries us to a place both liminal and rooted, both vanishing and emerging, to life as it is lived in earnest by a community off the Arctic coast of Norway. Deeply evocative of a vanishing culture, where dialect, language and lore leak away like seawater through sand, her work draws out a strange and essential music, one that abides and one that we all must hear. Smell the diesel, taste the salt, hear the whisper of deeper water, feel the burn of rope running fast through your fingers. Don’t be misled by its slimness, this fantastic collection carries a heavy load.
Melissa Davies is not just writing poems – she is world building, using language as a spell to create rich, evocative work.