Johan Sandberg McGuinne

Johan Sandberg McGuinne is passionate about decolonisation, education and endangered languages. He grew up speaking Swedish, English, Southern Saami and Scottish Gaelic, and writes in all his languages. Since 2009, he has written radio theatres for the Swedish National Broadcasting Company SR, and translated a number of Gaelic and Saami poets into English and Swedish, among them Niall O’ Gallagher and Rawdna Carita Eira. Four years ago, his verse novel And I Never Truly Knew Whom I Was Talking To won the Swedish Saami Youth Organisation's Young Writers' Award. He is a teacher and a traditional singer of Saami yoiks, and through his work he has helped young Saami writers and singers to reclaim their language. In 2018, he edited the first South and Ume Saami poetry collection ever written by young adults, and last year, he was selected as a member of the Versopolis Poetry network. He is currently serving as the president of the Saami Writers’ Centre in Jokkmokk.

Headshot of Johan Sandberg McGuinne, a young, ginger-haired man with a beard and glasses looking into the camera. Background of study


Border Crossings »

Reading: Johan Sandberg McGuinne, Gerry Cambridge

Thu 5 March | 14:15 - 15:15 | £4.50/£3.50 | Parliament Hall, South Street

Festival Launch Extravaganza »

Enjoy a sneak peek of some of the highlights of StAnza 2020

Wed 4 March | 18:30 - 20:45 | free / ticketed | Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, Auditorium


Cill Rìmhinn

I can still remember those days,
how our tongues,
dressed in robes of gold,
danced themselves
into a joyous frenzy
when we finally reached
the King's Church
upon the heather-covered moor

how the coastline embraced us like a mother

we came sailing in
thin, handsewn boats back in those days, laden heavy with the stories of our

but the haar swallowed us,
weaving thick layers of frost around us
as we found ourselves back on the waves, on our own again

Gïelh Rijmin

måjhtab hov guktie mijjen
gïelh rijmin
cill rìmhinn

guktie mearoegaedtie mijjeb goh tjidtjine faegniedi

dej beeli giedtsies vïnhtsh noerhtelistie siglien böötimh maadteraahkaj

dellie mearhka laapi
gujht bïjre jarkan
jah saelhtesne limh,
oktegimsh viht


Johan Sandberg McGuinne, tr. from the Saami by the author