Nifelheim: ‘Spaces and Pain 2/4’ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

1 Apr

nine realms8

The Nine Realms

9 months, 22 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat: a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences


Poems and Writing inspired by the Norse realm of Nifelheim (The Realm of the Dead)


Joanna Lee, Mina Polen

and Shirley Golden



If all things should weep

by Joanna Lee


even through the thickest ice, redemption
may bubble. don’t call it the realm of the dead.

say instead: that cauldron from which every man
springs, and will again return.

pull up fistfuls of last year’s leaf-
mould; wade the bitter waters;

sift the cold from the thaw.
this is not another poem

about what to feed your dragon.
serpent-sister, i no longer fear judgment,

have seen the green from your high walls.
atonement is made from yeast-drops

and pomegranate seeds, shimmers,
effervesces. remember

the life-beneath-frost, your  nascent
breakings, the roots planted in winter.

remember the strength in those you have loved,
the gentle rain lost to the mists.





Don’t follow me

by Mina Polen


Somehow I feel
that you mustn’t come
it is so cold over here
my feet are freezing
the snow is falling

my love
please, don’t follow me

somehow I feel
that I might be lost
the rivers are frozen
I am having nightmares
I don’t know what is this

my love
please, don’t follow me

somehow I feel
that this place is poisoned
the land stinks of cadaver
I feel threatened
I feel lonely I feel lost

my love
please, don’t follow me

somehow I feel
there is no end
the mist is overwhelming
I feel guilt and regret
this is all too much to bare

my love


don’t follow me.




Cutting Out the Bad

by Shirley Golden


They say we are sick and insist on a cure. I was hauled in when they updated legislation on crimes against beauty. For some, it’s ageing without correction or overindulging that secured them a stretch in here. Not acceptable, they say. Control it. Cover it. And if you can’t, we will. Our stay, as they call it, need not end in disaster. Consent screens flicker night and day, expecting the press of inmates’ fingerprints to smudge the surface of LCDs. And we will assent, they say, everyone caves in the end.

It’s worse than sub-zero winter, the cold bleeds into every bone and fibre. And the air is still, so still. We barely find the energy to speak or chew although she feeds us well enough. It’s a legal requirement. Some say the food is laced with drugs; others that they pump sedatives in through the vents. It explains our sluggishness and the fog which infects like gas climbing from corpses. The bad breath stench clings to the bed hangings. She calls us her children and says there are worse places, and it feels like a threat.

She’s black and white, precise, suit smart, exact. Guarding the right of her domain, she’s indifferent to protests. She acts with authority absolute. But under that veneer lurks a half-dead creature. For how could anything with a heart be immune to our pleas?

I’m allowed a mirror; it is encouraged. They say I must face my reflection, it’ll convince me to conceal the rough edges beneath a membrane, plump cheeks, smooth over corrugated flesh. It’s an old, old scar that started with a lump and ended under a surgeon’s blade; it took years to heal. I stare at discoloured tissue, the uneven track the scalpel was forced to carve; they call me offensive, offender. They fail to see it as an inscription: blunt. Integral.





You can read the overview of Nifelheim  here , and see some Nidavellir poems here


Find out more about Joanna, Mina and Shirley here:

Joanna Lee

Mina Polen

Shirley Golden


As always, thank you for your interest.

 A ‘The Nine Realms’ update post will be coming out tomorrow with news of our forthcoming Indiegogo Campaign.


3 Responses to “Nifelheim: ‘Spaces and Pain 2/4’ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing”

  1. Jane Dougherty April 2, 2015 at 7:10 am #

    Very strong writing. I enjoyed all three of these pieces.

    • ArtiPeeps April 5, 2015 at 11:48 am #

      Hi Jane,

      I know! These 3 pieces worked really well didn’t they? Sometimes it just happens like that. Hope you are having a good Easter. Nicky

      • Jane Dougherty April 5, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

        They did work well together. I’m always in awe of the imagination of your contributors.

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