Ore Choir: The Priest Questions the Lava
Copyright © 2022 by Katy Didden. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 20, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
“In 1783, the Lakagígur eruption decimated Iceland’s population and lowered global temperatures. Inspired by Jón Steingrímsson, a priest who survived the events, this poem is a ‘double-persona erasure,’ in which I move through the source text twice: first to find the priest’s questions, and then to find the lava’s replies. In 1783, like now, changes in climate affected every aspect of civilization, from humans’ biological survival to questions of politics, religion, and art. Then, as now, there were mass migrations and the need to redistribute global resources. Seeking insight, I turned to lava like an oracle. It yielded this unsteady consolation.”