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Polar Poetry Slam

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

"Another year of waiting!"

It's a call many a polar explorer has cried when his plans turned out different than hoped. Usually it was the fault of the ice. Grabbing the sides of a ship and locking it like a vise. Bound to their floating homes and forced to "shelter in place" expeditions often spent two or three years, sometimes more, before being set free. Keeping spirits high and avoiding the dark thoughts of uncertainty was a top priority. Many of them turned to poetry, plays and other creative outlets to survive the tedium and to remain hopeful.

"Under circumstances of inactivity such as we were now placed in, and with every prospect of its continuance for a very large portion of a year, I was desirous of finding some amusement for the men during this long and tedious interval..." (Admiral William Parry, from deep in the Northwest Passage, 1819)

It is in that vein that we welcome you to our Polar Poetry Slam! Please enjoy these lines of verse - and PLEASE SEND US YOUR OWN! (they cannot be worse....) Submit your contributions (to be published here) to or comment via Facebook here.


An ode to corona (virus)...

waiting for the weather to clear,in the tent and wanting a beer, it's a cozy small spot,

but happy I be. resting on ice, safe, contented and free. my life's wish well chosen, my fate in cold hands, time passes, souls search, then the helicopter lands, indeed arctic trails, have their secret tales, and they make my blood run fast, together we'll find that point icy north, our longed for success, together at last, and so i must say, as i sit at my desk, working with you all is always the best, you are smart, you are clever, your will can't be broke, though the trail be so hard, and corona bespoke, all thank you , be safe, be sound and be fast, together, we'll find our way (back) home at last. Rick Sweitzer - Guide


The Fram sat alone, a frozen, ice home, to most never seen, a cold quarantine. Stretching their food, alone with their mood, thoughts drifting deep, each hope a big leap. My home is my ship. The grass is my ice. Dirk is first mate, we roll with the dice. The bears have their space, no marathon race, no last degree ski, no North Pole for me. At least my home is not likely to snap, at the whim of the ice, like a thin broken bat. If I hear creaks and groans, tis not timber bones, but trees near my sil, I am alive still. The Fram was alone, a frozen ice home, to most never seen, a cold quarantine. Alas we have ease, we have warmth, we have trees. So let us be merry, though times may be scary. - Annie Aggens (Guide) ******************************************* Told that the cold would grab hold. Chill we must the thrill and sit still pursuing north we must. Till we meet again, once more. - Keith Heger (Guide) ******************************************* One more year to wait. Our excitement must again be packed away with boots and skis. There it will live, glowing faint, for we have one more year to wait. Our long-missed friends, now again 365 steps separated. Our ambitions, like the sled dogs, recaged. A familiar place, for we have endured one more year of late. One more year. The ice will wait. Waning and growing, unknowing of our dire straits. Our pathway North broken and built. The ice recreates. But wait again we must. The immediate sadness will soon abate, leaving only familiar day-dreams of Arctic travels, with bacon quesadillas on our plates. - Eric Lillstrom (Guide)


Your chance will come again, but if you complain, and you think that your last chance has gone down the drain,then that will cause you pain and you will no longer want to train, and that will drive you insane. So train , but do not strain because you must use your brain ,and if you strain you will get big pain ,and then you will no longer be able to train, and then you will lose your gain, and then you can not stay sane, although all this is not easy to explain, but if you realise that another chance will come again ,and you do not complain, and you believe that North Pole travel has not gone down the drain, and you continue to train without having to strain ,you will not be in pain , and you will not go insane. - John Gluckman (Greenland Crossing 2018, South Pole, 2019, South Georgia 2015) ******************************************* Bright is the night and bitter is the cold. Ninety and subzero are our degrees. We fill hours with every minute they’ll hold. Time’s getting late. Soon our tents will be rolled. “Stay!” beg our heavy lids and stubborn knees. Bright is the night and bitter is the cold. Chills, aches, “be damned!” We re-enter the fold. Spurred by our team, our dreams and Mac & Cheese. We fill hours with every minute they’ll hold. By comfy defeat we won’t be cajoled. Our untrod path well lit. It’s time to seize. Bright is the night and bitter is the cold. “Last Dashes” we know from the days of old. Some more like seasons than a passing breeze. We fill hours with every minute they’ll hold. But dash to Pole is not our final goal: That ice ever caps the north polar seas. Bright is the night and bitter is the cold. We fill hours with every minute they’ll hold. - Chris Paustian "CP" (Guide)


"North Pole: dashed hopes, melting ice

Outbreak: impasse


- Lin Rahman, 2020 (now 2021) Last Degree Ski participant


I was out in the yard

testing my new tent wondering about

all the money I’d spent. I knew it was worth it

Annie and Keith had one, too if you can’t trust them then I don’t know who. In the middle of these thoughts my phone began to ring. It was Rick on the line what good news would he bring? We were just days away They must be raring to go way up to the North a place called Barneo. We said our hellos then he got real quiet which was really strange

he’s usually a riot. He said we had to cancel the Pole trips this year, we’ve donated the food and shipping back the gear. I was stunned into silence with nothing to say it was not the ending I expected for such a great day. We ended the call saying we’d be in touch but I knew from his voice it must have hurt so much. My head has been spinning

for the weeks since that call. I know it was the right thing with folks dying and all. So now in reflection I know just what to do I’ll keep up my running

and tire pulling, too.

When next year rolls around I’ll be another year older the plan I have now

is to become Bi-Polar!

- Richard Goldsmith (Alum of North Pole Last Degree, South Pole Last Degree, Shackleton Crossing of South Georgia and Vatnajokull Ski Expedition)


"Just sitting here in my new gear. Dreaming of next year, hoping it will all be clear. For now, I fear, in place of that icy frontier, I'll just have another beer." - Eric Lillstrom ******************************************* The p ridges grow tall, the ice has grown thin, but steadfast we be though it takes mighty toll, Our drift is W some E and now some S, but the day will soon come when we open our mouth, and see Only S, we will shout with glee, our destiny fulfilled, our fate again free, We love this wild place where no virus roams, with our dogs and our friends, we will again stand at North Pole! - Rick Sweitzer


We will sooner or later be skiing in the polar midnight sun this is number one.

Each ski boot os really a modified shoe, this is number two.

We will be sooner or later be skiing over the frozen polar sea, this is number three . Skiing on ice four thousand metres above the polar ocean floor, this is not only a law but it is also number four.

We will get there and back alive, this is number five.

Our ski poles are really modifies sticks, this is number six.

Camping on the ice is like being in heaven, this is number seven.

We all just have to wait, but we will get there at a later date, this is number eight. Everything will turn out fine, this is number nine. Hopefully next year will be when, this is number ten.

- John Gluckman


A number of people got together They were not discussing the weather They were in a town, talking about eight down one to go, One of the group said that is so The person who said that , her name was Jo The topic was the explorer’s grand slam, The meeting had been the idea of Sam My first peak climbed said Jo

was Kosciusko. I then climbed Carstenz, said Jo whose Surname was actually Lenz. Someone by the name of Elvis, Said his most recent climb was Elbrus On summiting Aconcagua, Tom said he was not moving at the pace of a jaguar I really enjoyed climbing Denali which used to be named Mount Mckinley,, said somebody named Peter Tinley. An interesting climb was Kilimanjaro, said Jo Farrow , whose surname rhymed with go. The third peak climbed by Jean a person who was really keen, was the massif of Vinson.

Jean’s surname was actually Stinson. My most difficult climb was Mount Everest, said George who was one of the best. Last year I attained a goal, by reaching the pole furthest south. This was said by a person by opening the hole in her mouth. We all still have to go forth, to reach that point on the planet furthest north, and then we will all will have attained the explorers’ grand slam said Peter, Jo, Elvis, Tom, Jean and Sam - John Gluckman **************************************** Do not fuss, The coronavirus is not going to defeat us. The virus is a most evil bug, more vicious than the most terrible thug but if you give up because of the bug, then you really are a stupid mug. If you drown your sorrows in drinking too much booze, then it is almost certain that you will lose. If you do not think that you can win, then you are committing a most terrible sin,

because you can only win if you are willing to begin. you must stay fit and never quit. the other message that I will send , is that you must hold on until the very end You must neither believe that all is in vain , nor that the virus has sent all your plans right down the drain, and all your hopes you must maintain. The following are your orders, to be ready to go when the nations reopen their borders. And then you will attain your goal,

of finally reaching the North Pole. - John Gluckman *****************************************

Your polar prose to be published here!!!

"If you are enjoying thise prose make sure to check out PolarExplorer's book There Are Strange Things Done In The Midnight Sun - a collection of expedition stories written by PolarExplorers guides.


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