Underfoot - Niillas Holmberg - translated by Johanna Domokos & Jennifer Kwon Dobbs
$17.00, ISBN 978-1-945680-55-7
In Underfoot, Holmberg asks what prevents an industrialized nation-state from achieving its desire to extract maximum resources. His answers are people and their connection with land. Writing in Northern Sámi, he creates a world of symbols to enact the challenges of maintaining an immediate relationship with land in the midst of ongoing settler colonialism and displacement. Specifically, Underfoot summons readers to return to their feet because that’s where we’re constantly in contact with the ground. The book’s antagonist, the shoemaker, markets comfort and warmth. The moment that we put on the shoe is when we offer ourselves to capitalism and mechanization. That’s when we replace our values of sustainability and communality with egoism and individuality. The poetry is interwoven with illustrations by Sami artist, Inga-Wiktoria Pave.
The book is also a major artwork by the Sami artist, Inga-Wiktoria Pave.
“After a long hibernation, the voice of the Northern lands emerges through the poems of Niillas Holmberg. In the quest for answers and solutions in these troubled times, we are called to listen to stories from the Earth’s northern hemisphere. In these poems we are invited to know birches, terns, wolves and rivers as kin. To feel the Earth again with our bare feet, bare hands and dive into the waters unfettered by the constraints of Modernity. The poems are simple, elegant, graceful, like the falling snow, clear cool water over stones in streams, birch leave rustling in the wind.”
—Miguel Rivera, translator of In the Courtyard of the Moon
"Underfoot is a gorgeous exploration of Sami connection to land, life and the poetics that braid us together.”
—Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of Noopiming:The Cure for White Ladies
Niillas Holmberg is a Sámi writer and musician. He has written poetry collections, a novel, a feature film and essays. His works have been translated into several languages. Niillas has won awards such as the Kirsi Kunnas Poetry Award as well as being nominated for the Nordic Literature Prize twice. Niillas is known as an upfront spokesman for Sámi and indigenous rights to self-determination. He has been involved in several movements against extractivism in Sámi areas. He lives in Ohcejohka, Sámiland. www.niillas.com
Inga-Wiktoria Påve is a Sámi visual artist and designer based in the municipality of Kiruna on the Swedish side of Sápmi. She is brought up in a traditional Sami reindeer herding community and it is from her heritage that she draws her inspiration. Påve has been exhibited amongst other places at the 2019 Ábadakone exhibition at The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. www.ingawiktoriapave.com
Jennifer Kwon Dobbs is the author of two poetry collections and two chapbooks, most recently Interrogation Room–mentioned in The New York Times and a recipient of the Asian American Studies Book Award in Creative Writing. She is poetry editor at AGNI and professor of English at St. Olaf College.
Johanna Domokos is a comparative literary scholar of indigenous cultures and minority literatures with expertise in Scandinavian and Central Europea. She is author of four monographs related to Sámi literature.