Three years in the making, Heart of Winter is a beautiful and poignant series of found poems by Autumn Richardson, assembled from the notes written by ethnologist Knud Rasmussen and botanist Dr. Thorild Wulff during the Second Thule Expedition - a journey charting a little-known area of the far north-western coast of Greenland, from April to September, 1917. Some of Rasmussen's journals were afterwards edited by himself, and published as Greenland by the Polar Sea in 1921. During this expedition they traversed a vast landscape, by foot and by sledge, travelling more than a 1000 kilometres. A large portion of their journey was spent crossing the perilous and desolate 'inland-ice', an earlier term for the Greenland Ice Sheet. Dr. Wulff sadly lost his life on the return journey, as did one other member of the expedition, Hendrik Olsen. Every dog they brought with them also perished.
These poems are accompanied by a selection of Inuit songs, originally documented by Knud Rasmussen and published as Snehyttens Sange in 1930. Rasmussen's Danish versions are republished here alongside new English translations by Autumn Richardson. Heart of Winter is completed by an author's preface, nine botanical plates featuring Arctic flora, and a detailed index listing the plants recorded by Dr. Wulff in his Greenland diary.
'The writings of Rasmussen, the Inuit songs, and the final notes of Dr. Wulff, share moments of life at its slimmest, its most immediate. Each recount life-threatening and life- sustaining experiences, and the endurance of incredible hardship, yet in their words there is also at times a euphoria; an awareness of the immense beauty surrounding them, and a recognition of the preciousness of each small life that they encounter.' (from the author's preface)