new zealand electronic poetry centre

Nora Nadjarian


Nora Nadjarian was born in Cyprus and educated in the UK. She is the winner of several international awards for her writing, including prizes in the Scottish International Open Poetry Competition in 2000, and again in 2003. Her story ‘Ledra Street’ was a runner-up in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition in 2001, and she was commended again in the same competition in 2002 for her story ‘Spoon Sweet’. Her work has appeared in magazines in the UK and US, and a volume of her poetry, The Voice at the Top of the Stairs, was published in Cyprus in 2001. She took part in an advanced poetry course at the Arvon Foundation in the UK in August 2002, and is currently working on a book of short stories.



She reached the line:
the perfume, the white scent 
leading her. Jasmine.

It was her childhood again,
visiting; like that small breath 
of flowers from another’s garden 

as she passed by, a child playing
the fence railings like the harp.
Come, come, the scent pulled her,

Always. But the garden was not hers, 
she was told. Nor was the aroma,
which lured and dared her to trespass. 

Now, as she crossed the unstraight,
the invisible, the impenetrable line,
and as the blue-bereted soldier 

watched her feet closely, eye-measuring
the millimetres, and as his mouth 
opened to call out HALT! 

she was a child again, running, strong. 
HALT! they called but she didn’t turn.
Furious pages were missing in the book

of her life. And, breathless, she thought 
of the jasmine she was to find; the house 
she was to see; the garden; the fence;

and her father’s buried heart.

Old Woman in Black

He would have been forty-seven
forty-seven! had he lived.
She clutches his photo.
In army uniform he smiles.

Sitting on a chair, her small legs 
just touching the ground, she wonders 
he can still smile, so fresh in khaki -
at her life, so withered in black.

© Nora Nadjarian 2003

Last updated 15 July, 2003