cover of book

Old Woman with Berries in Her Lap
by Vivian Faith Prescott
University of Alaska Press, 2022
eISBN: 978-1-60223-454-3 | Paper: 978-1-60223-453-6
Library of Congress Classification PS3616.R465O43 2022
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

Through a single descendant’s voice that speaks to the Sámi diaspora, this collection of poems is a journey through colonialism, transgenerational trauma, and identity. Many have heard of the Sámi reindeer herders brought to Alaska by Sheldon Jackson in the 1800s, but not much is known about the Sámi diaspora experiences in the state and beyond. The poems in Old Woman with Berries in Her Lap use the North Sámi language as well as graphics and various types of poetry to tell these stories of migration and diaspora.
Vivian Faith Prescott’s use of language is both a celebration of the richness of the Sámi languages and a mourning of the loss of language that occurs when a population is displaced and forced to exist in a totally foreign language space. According to Sámilinguist, professor, and politician Ole Henrik Magga, the Sámi languages have “very easily . . . one thousand lexemes with connections to snow, ice, freezing, and melting.” These lexemes frame many of Prescott’s poems, introducing ideas and feelings around the loss of language and culture.
A compelling insight into the Sámi culture from a contemporary poet’s eye, Old Woman with Berries in Her Lap juxtaposes past and present in an act of reclamation.

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