by a rawlings
Broken Dimanche Press

Glaciologists predict that all glaciers in Iceland will melt within 100 years. Since settlement within the country, the Icelandic word for glacier has been jökull (plural: jöklar). Icelandic boasts a variety of compound words that feature jökull within them. The list of compound jöklar includes references to geographic features, such as jökulá (glacial river) and jökulruðningur (moraine). English even adopts as a loanword the Icelandic jökulhlaup to refer to glacial floods that occur from sub-glacial volcanic eruptions. 

To create an intertextual resonance, In Memory: Jökull is typeset similarly to Roni Horn’s All the Names of the Lava Fields in Iceland—a list of compound names and landscape-referent repetition (-hraun, which means lava field in Icelandic). In Memory: Jökull stretches as a poetic landscape inhabiting paper, a counter-map emphasizing the word’s relationship to its linguistic cohabitants rather than its geographic placement. 

Broadsheet print is available for €50, plus shipping, through the Broken Dimanche website. 

Graphic design by Fuchs Borst, edition of 100, 30x42cm, fine paper printed with silver ink.


by a rawlings

Jöklar is the Icelandic word for glaciers. The piece houses fifteen names of Icelandic glaciers, and the word play transforms each glacial name in such a way that mimics the ecosystem shift due to climate change. This, then, emphasizes the fragility (or manipulability) of both language and ecosystem. The northwesternmost glacier Drangajökull transforms to Draugajökull, with drauga meaning haunting. The largest ice cap in Europe, Vatnajökull, shifts from vatna (waters, lakes) to Vantajökull, with vanta meaning to lack or to be missing. The first glacier in Iceland to disappear was Ok (and that’s happened in the last ten years), and here the word play slips into English (okay) as the word ekki (meaning not) prefixes the glacier— Ekki Ok (not okay).

Some glacier names are transformed into verb clauses.

Þrándarjökull becomes Granda jökli (to destroy glacier)
Þórisjökull becomes Óróajökull (turmoil glacier)
Eiríksjökull becomes eigi jökull (no glacier)
Hofsjökull becomes Hálfjökull (half glacier)
Snæfellsjökull becomes Smækka jökull (to shrink glacier)
Tungnafellsjökull becomes áfallsjökull (trauma glacier)
Tindfjallajökull becomes týnafjallajökli (to lose mountain glacier)
Mýrdalsjökull becomes myrða jökul (to murder glacier)
Sólheimajökull becomes sálugi jökli (decreased glacier)
Heinabergsjökull becomes harmabergsjökul (to lament glacier)
Eyjafjallajökull becomes eyðafjallajökli (to destroy mountain glacier)
Öræfajökull becomes Kæfajökull (to suffocate / choke glacier)

The digital poetry version of this is set up on a fade-in and fade-out sequence that allows for each glacier name to transform when at its full strength of visibility. At that point, the transformation has been devised on a randomized algorithm that allows for split-second speed differences as well as which letter transforms sequentially (if more than one letter shift). The parallel, here, is the inability for humans to control the shift, though it may become possible for some observant witnesses to anticipate what the glacier name (and by proxy, the glacier) will become.

The Jöklar: Digital Poem featured in Coldfront Mag's visual poetry section in June 2014.

University of Toronto - Mississauga's Blackwood Gallery featured the Jöklar video poem for their "Singular Metabolism" event curated by cheyanne turions in their November 2015 conference Running with Concepts: the Geologic Edition.