Inspiration

Shash Trevett chose to write about the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on the landscape surrounding Pripyat – the zone of alienation. Shash has used the photographs of David McMillan who has repeatedly returned to Pripyat to catalogue the effects of the years on the town. On one level his photographs are bleak, capturing the eerie stillness of a place abandoned in a desperate rush. However they are also deeply hopeful. 35 years after the disaster, and in spite of the contamination, the area is a thriving example of natural regeneration. Seen over time, the photographs show in almost slow motion, nature exert herself over the stillness of a landscape devoid of people: saplings and wildflowers burst with the redemptive energy of the natural world.

The poems are presented as photographs, as a series of still lifes. Mati Zemlya is one of the names of the Ukrainian Earth Mother, one of the oldest deities in Slavic mythology.

Inspired by photographs of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster taken by David McMillan. Photographs available to view here. Mati Zemlya is one of the names of the Ukrainian Earth Mother, one of the oldest deities in Slavic mythology.

About the poet

Shash Trevett is a poet and a translator of Sri Lankan Tamil poetry into English. Her pamphlet From a Borrowed Land will be published in May 2021 by Smith|Doorstop. She is currently editing with Vidyan Ravinthiran and Seni Seneviratne, an anthology of poetry from Sri Lanka and its diaspora communities to be published by Bloodaxe. Shash is a 2021 Visible Communities Translator in Residence at the National Centre for Writing, and in collaboration with Manasamitra, is completing a residency at Opera North. She is a Board Member of Modern Poetry in Translation.

Check out Shash Trevett’s performance from the 2019 ILF event, On the Rise: New Yorkshire Poets here and to hear about her experience as Apprentice Poet in Residence!

Return to the ‘Commission’ page

Sign-up to our newsletter

Sign up to our mailing list below.

* indicates required