‘We became White Others:’ 3 migration poems by Slovenian writer Nika Mahnič

‘We became White Others:’ 3 migration poems by Slovenian writer Nika Mahnič
Koper, Slovenia. Image: John via Wikimedia

5 November 2021
Poems by: Nika Mahnič

Nika Mahnič is a Slovenian writer and researcher based in London. They are a Graduate Teaching Assistant at King’s College London, while writing a PhD in politics at Queen Mary University of London. Mahnič is part of the editorial board of the Journal of Future Robot Life and the scientific committee of Danes je nov dan institute. They will be performing at the European Poetry Festival in London on 27 November, together with Muanis Sinanović. Find out more here.


We used to watch

Games without frontiers

On TV inflatable, colourful instruments

For and of

a competition

the periphery was allowed to win

That was our relay race

Our May Ball

A promise of Europe

An ever-closer union

Who would have thought

About the spectres of Visegrád

While Eurovision is my World Cup

And I want to adopt as a nonbinary parent

In 2004, no more gift certificates were needed

crossing the borders

Only then consumption was allowed

spending exceeded

We became New Europeans

White Others

We have always been

The term balkanisation stings me

Simultaneously, I am sulking

Let us stay hidden and unknown

So we will not be taken over

From whom not


It is Independence Day in Slovenia

To date:

we were established as a country and erased around 25k beings

Never forget

We call them The Erased

They were brothers and sisters from the south

It’s our shame

they got some money back

it’s our shame

They were erased by ‘bureaucratic mistake’

the government explained

There are no such mistakes

just one-dimensional men

Every country has their own southerners

Sometimes they are in the north

If you live on an island you have many borders

If people are islands affections are tourists

If you lose hope in islands

you can never swim naked and laugh

you can never drown in eyes

But remember tides change islands

Islands don’t float above the soil

There is always an entity above

In Croatia you see

FKK signs on beaches

Freikörperkultur

Where I never saw Croatian nuts

I always wondered why there are so many FKK camps

Oh right, camps

Croatia collaborated with the Third Reich

Then I understood why they were more % Aryan than Slovenes

It was written in the museum in Berlin, topology of terror

I thought Aryan is not about culture

not about habits

It was a Noe boat

I like being naked in public but FKK you know where it comes from

I like techno but you know where it comes from

I like you but you know where you come from

Algorithm not chance

I missed Slovenia today

but that was before I realised it is Independence Day

I thought of the sea

Behind which you can simultaneously see

Julian Alps and Adriatic Sea

when it is sunny

and you realise you are almost in Italy

When I miss home most

I remember my conclusion

the runway is too small

and I like flying

To be independent from Slovenia

Home is where boobs and books are


Let this city eat your joy

Let it eat

Let It sing

Override your happiness and catastrophe

How often the background

The desktop

Of your home office

Is your hometown

Hometown on your desktop

The small, simple and manageable one

I like talking to those who have seen me grow up

To those who know I haven’t dared open my mouth for a long time

Except when I sang

That I peed in my pants in the library

Because choosing what to read took too long

That I grew up in a block next to the library and the sea

Where there seemed to be no land beyond the horizon

Not even Italy

No West

Yes, Italy has always been The West

Where mother used to buy bananas and jeans

Trieste has never been ours

We have bananas and jeans in London

for now

No gas though

Something is gnawing at my heart in this city

Big enough to fit 4 populations of my home country

I don’t care anymore if I can ever be happy


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