Monthly Archives: March 2012

from merrie dancers to the haar

Not a same spring blossoms the same…  

This year’s is a precocious one.

A wander round the the eastside of the island revealed not only celandine, but unexpected primrose in bloom at Fladdabister. 
Our greylag geese still grace our world, together with a plethora of summer visitors in search of a great pedestal for courtship display. The fertile pocket of lushness that is the Tingwall Valley was littered with shalders (oystercatchers), common & black-headed gulls in full regalia… Summer’s definitely on its way! 

And on the theme of green…

Two nights ago, we still marvelled at auroras in much calmer conditions. Oh, not the draping, shimmering ones in my Sandwick sky, but a green glow in this late March starry night. Wonderful moment, for northern lights do remain one of my favourite earth spectacles, together with sunrise & sunset, and storm petrels trading places on the isle of Mousa during the Simmerdim

tied a’da noost

The Haar, as this maritime natural phenomenon is known in Scotland, has come early as this year’s spring buds. Today, we reverted to summer time in white, as seafog veiled most of our shore on the eastside of the island. Every building turns a ghost shape, every silhouette, a spirit. Yesterday, west and east were heavily shrouded down. The drive to Weisdale proved an eerie journey from start to finish… Today, the Haar turns in to mist, and as I type, begins to lift around my township. 

Magic, mystical, as our world gradually warms up, we watch in white; listen for birdsong, calling gulls  and the sea in a cullen skink sky… I redesign the horizon. 

Kiss of life from our cold North Sea!

We can only hope for a sun that is strong enough to burn it. My friend Debbie, who lives in Aith, on the westside, recorded a morning of sunshine. Mind you, the Haar is a trickster, for wicks and voes vanish and reappear at will.   it wanders around each bay, and engulfs long narrow inlets of water at amazing speed! It could be called Loki… I much prefer a more feminine persona, as Lady Mist. 

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Filed under 2012, 60N, Arcania, boats, colours, earth, geopoetics, home, images, island, spirit, spring, white, writing

côté cour & côté jardin

Old habits die hard

An empty stage demands respect. When we arrived for our four hour long technical rehearsal, Lerwick’s Garrison Theatre felt like a great vessel’s empty hull. Keith’s Morrison & David Wagstaff’s team of technicians – light, sound engineers hovered like sailors back and forth before the cast left the dressing rooms. 
I sat in  the front row on the old velvet chair and watched the crew at work.

I love the warmth of each spotlight. Arrays of colours lit the very belly of our craft.  When I look back at those moments, I remember an array of orange and yellow shining on the chair placed in the centre of the stage.  In the backdrop, a blue ocean.  
Peter eventually sat on the chair, as light beamed down. 
Serpentine‘s  “A” was just about to shine and emerge from a mist of smoke. Peter Ratter’s Three Brides – The Un-Wed  did not fail to impress, neither during technical rehearsal nor  at this year’s 62nd Shetland County Drama Festival.  Avant-garde, from the technical, production and visual viewpoints, it did not leave the 2012 adjudicator indifferent.  How could it?

The visual stunner 

Prompts, costumes, make-up, monologues, repartee, light. Peter  playwright & director made it a show to remember. Powerful snapshots of Gothic literature united from his brainchild and vision. 

Judge for yourself. 
The Count, The Creator & Created and the Poet… 
Their unwed brides. 
The play was presented on Friday 16 March 2012 at The Garrison.

Then lights switched off and back on for a second time on côté cour & côté jardin once the set for Jane McKay’s If You Go Down To The Woods was ready for its Première on the following night.

We spent evenings of laughter, passion and devotion to bring the farce to its climax. 

On côté jardin (left handside of the stage from the audience’s viewpoint), a white door where mystery and misunderstandings would emerge… On côté cour (right handside of the stage), a black door, from which more confusion via strange comings & goings would flourish and unFURl…. Hungover Dan soon woke up to un-real moments!  Clues of many kinds – furry gloves by Betty’s French friend, Monique, red sauce by a sleazy photographer, Frank, a strange creature captured & printed by Graham, and even a parcel by a pothead, yes, the Deliveryman! – would ultimately reveal a farcical tale of a very furry kind.  Betty’s falling in love with Frank.
The Norwicks’ kitchen will never be the same again!
Betty tries to lure us with her sudden escapades to the ponies… Igraine is young and naive… Janet, her friend, tries to keep Igraine’s feet on earth. Monique cannot put her hands on Betty until she brings a rolled sheepskin… 

Shock horror! Betty and Frank – two consenting adults – armed with a knife, tail-chase themselves like two children!

Directed by Jonathan Sinclair, If You Go Down To The Woods, kept us  on our toes till its première, and received an award for Jonathan’s debut as Director. 

Congratulations to all involved in this madness – weekly Tuesday nights and Sunday afternoons are tattooed in my heart with sheer moments of giggles and laughters!
What a great remedy to winter blues!

On a more personal point, it was a formidable opportunity to rekindle my flame for theatre and be part of such a great adventure, the very first of many to come, as a member of Serpentine Drama Group. 

Born To Be Wild! 

Oh, and if you want a taste of it, just click here!

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Filed under 2012, celebration, festival, home, images, lerwick, poetry, project, writing

half & half world

Beyond the stars, light, equinox

Nothing prepares us for such cosmic rite of passage. Not even the dazzling displays of aurora borealis that filled our sky since last summer’s dusk… As we wandered through February, the island began to display precocious signs of revival. Strangely, our trees began to share so early buds… Winter bowed out without complaint, as milder air filtered through March. Not ice, but rain dominated our Nordic skies. March, month of rainbows and wild hares!

Revival, renaissance, a promise of return
From Imbolc to Ostara, our earthly calendar of life feels more than generous.
Celandine popped up with a good fortnight in advance… Avian movements have turned our skies into fantastic motorways! From wildfowl to waders, via blackbirds, skylarks and common guillemots, the island gradually welcomes back its summer visitors. 

And wherever you decide to walk, Greylag geese feast about everywhere! Their sound and sights slash days and nights. I love to listen to bird calls in a crepuscular sky. Geese make the best use of stars for night navigation. Somehow, I think of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Vol de Nuit.

Night. The one that weaves solace and fears  through a curtain of love & hate… 

Yet night will shrink even further as we jig with spring equinox! What began from late January will now accelerate at some amazing speed. So until then, I shall make the most of our stars and walk through spring till they faint away past Beltaine – enjoy a walk through the meadows and re-discover my world’s palette of colours, though quite timid at first, when petals open to the sun. On Sunday morning, I heard my first skylark. Now I can truly welcome Voar, that wonderful dialect word for spring.

Voar haiku string 

Voar –
wind of spring in rattling blind,
distant echo of wheatears.
#haiku fae 60N

Let it out –
March, month of rainbows, ghosts & angels,
my grief still tattooed in grey sky.
#haiku fae 60N

Les choristes –
in their chocolate & white suits,
on every corner of the stack, guillemots sing.
#haiku fae 60N


Filed under 2012, 60N, Arcania, birds, celebration, colours, geopoetics, haiku, home, images, island, shore, spirit, spring, world, writing

one world, many tongues

world poetics under one roof

When Kate called me to read in French, I knew she was up to something. Let me rewind to that final week of February. Somewhere, I read that the Island’s main Library would host one of those nights when folk gather to share a verse, a tune or a stanza… Karen usually orchestrates those wonderful nights, but for this once, she would ally with the Adult Learning Centre  for something very special. And so she did. With Jen Hadfield as Reader in Residence, who, in the past already requested such reading in my native tongue, The International Poetry Night was born.

And what a night. 

Genny & Kate

On Friday 2 March, the Library kept its doors open till late. Our co-hosts gathered so many voices under one roof.  Karen always hosts such nights in style. This time, Orkney beer and fudge were available to be sampled at the event’s interval. 
Whereas Jen made a very brief introductory appearance, her co-hosts, Kate and Genny, enacted a farcical scene before a fifty strong audience. 

Polish born Klaudia Marosek

So many voices, languages filtered through the mesh of the open mic’. English, Polish, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Bulgarian, Russian, Frisian, Gaelic, Shetland dialect, French, Moroccan, Malaysian… A world symphony motion!  It felt just home.
Not only poetry, but songs and dance for some of the performers. 

Local fiddlers Bernadette & Jim

This night of world celebration united fantastic voices, who have elected their home on the island,   

Bulgarian born Radina, with Alan
Nordicblackbird in full swing

would remind us all that their respective native tongue adds so many colours to the poetics of such a small community such as ours. Cultural joy to be able to breathe and walk through life with more than one language. Too many folk take it for granted. And although Shetlanders experience such bi-lingualism through their own dialect and English,  their own midder tongue once suffered through cultural cleansing at the start of the 20th century, when English reigned king in the classroom. Too many local dialects, patois and languages have suffered too much already. In an effort to revive local languages and dialects, regions revive their own, hence declaring their unique cultural distinctions. At local level, the island thrives to keep it going and has even taken the step to re-introduce it in today’s classroom, via Shetland ForWirds, even though it is fighting against  linguistic imperialism as notably exposed by today’s media. 

Hungarian born Fari Batai
Jen at the mic’

For the first time, I discovered Robert Burns in Hungarian through Fari’s voice. How enchanting! Re-discovered the magic of those more northern and eastern European languages. Whit a hansel! What a present!
To hear it, or any language spoken by folk in the island really defines the wealth of our local community.
Jen reappeared during the session to share with us her version of  a traditional Irish tune entitled She Moved Through the Fair – a song which is familiar to my heart thanks to Kate Bush’s own version. Precious moment from our Reader in Residence.

Steve Davidson and Alan McKay closed the Open Mic’ session with a Gallic tune, a bourrée. (Part One)
Scot born Steve is a francophile and an avid & very accomplished musician, who spends parts of his summer holidays somewhere in Auvergne (among his favourite destinations) with a gang of kindred spirits in an attempt to widen his love of traditional Gallic music. 

For Steve & Alan’s Bourrée (Part2), please click here

Shetland Library’s hospitality
My renewed thanks to Karen and Kate for such a brilliant night of celebration. Blending with the world feels such a privilege, especially when we live on an island somewhere in the North Atlantic.

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Filed under 2012, 60N, celebration, colours, geopoetics, home, images, lerwick, poets, shetland, spirit, verse poetry, world