The Poetry of Abandonment

March 5, 2021 Cal Flyn Russia Winter Maria Passer Rebecca Solnit

A feature in The Atlantic of photos by Maria Passer show a derelict coal mining town in Northern Russia, just above the Arctic Circle. With jobs dwindling and people retreating, there’s now a void slowly filling with snow and ice.

We’ve all seen images of buildings overgrown by weeds (for me, most memorably, the wiped-out Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans), but this is something different altogether: A place literally frozen in time, getting destroyed by the particularly crisp and transformative force of cold weather.

In her book Islands of Abandonment, Cal Flyn calls the weeds shooting up in abandoned places the Green of Time”, in reference to Rebecca Solnit’s Blue of Distance”. I like this idea of time manifesting itself physically; it is what lends some abandoned places a sense of poetry rather than desolation.

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