Talking in the Caucasus

(JonArno Lawson from The Man in the Moon-Fixer’s Mask, Toronto, Canada: Pedlar Press, 2004)


If you plan to climb mountains or even go walking

between the Caspian and the Black Sea,

you may need to learn some brand new ways of talking,

So let me prepare you for what these might be:


You may need to know Abkhaz, Abaza or Akhwakh,

Avar and Andi or Agul and Archi

Or maybe Armenian and Azerbaijani,

Balkar, Bezhita (sometimes known as Kapuchi).  


Bagvalal, Batsbi, Botlikh and Budukh

there’s Chechen and Chamalal,

also Circassian (some use Cherkess and some Kabardin),

Dargwa and Greek, Godoberi, Ginukh,


Georgian and Hunzib, Ingush, Karata

Khaidaq and Khinalug, Kurdish, Khwarshi,

Kumyk and Kryz, Karachay, Kubachi

Lezgi and Lak, Mingrelian, Nogay,


Ossetian and Russian, Rutul and Svan

Tabasaran, Tindi, Turkomen, Tat.

Talysh, Tsez,Tsakhur,

Ukrainian and Udi.


And all this talking is done in the main

in an area not one bit larger than Spain.

So if this is where you would like to go walk,

learn some of these so, while you’re there, you can talk.



From the review of The Man in the Moon-Fixer’s Mask by Colleen Mondor in Semi-Annual Look at New Picture Books: Lizards and Lions and Castles--Oh My! (October/November 2006): '... A personal favorite for me was "Talking in the Caucasus" which manages to include every language travelers would need to know if the visited the region "between the Caspian and the Black Sea." (What other children's poem do you know that would include the verse "You may need to know Abkhaz, Abaza or Akhwakh/ Avar and Andi or Agul and Archi/ Or maybe Armenian and Azerbaijani/ Balkar, Bezhita (sometimes known as Kapuchi)"?) ...'


JonArno Lawson is one of the finest niche literary figures in the English-speaking world today for his absolute mastery of the English language, vivid imagination, and unique vision. Check out his elegant website at <>.


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