writing the north

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I love my local museum & archives.
It is a place of treasures, a temple of wonders & records – a time machine, a cabinet of life, past and present.
As my love grows deeper in time for da auld rock, such a temple feels a familiar place where I find inspiration, knowledge and understanding of my island world. It is a place where I collaborated with other poets for different literary projects, including The Hanseatic Project, with Bremen based poet Michael Augustine a few years ago.
But something very special was expecting me this afternoon – something of a different kind.
At first, all looked perfectly “normal” – Barbara’s smile behind the imposing desk inside the flagstone paved foyer.
A quick look around the gift shop & bookshelves led to a voyage of discovery. “Da Gadderie” looked a bit darker than usual at first sight.
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Whereas my friend sat at the old typewriter, my heart pounded at the first manuscript, that of Robert Louis Stevenson… A magical extract from a journal, illustrated with a quick sketch of Sumburgh Head, dated June 1869, a hundred years before my birth (!) How exquisite to discover your literary hero’s own handwriting. I was suddenly in heaven.
And this magical literary journey continued with other great literary heroes – Sir Walter Scott, whose only visit to Shetland dates back to 1814, two hundred years exactly this year, had a best seller purpose, The Pirate (1822), where the story begins in Sumburgh… Jarlshof was born.
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Here, before my very eyes, Scott’s original manuscript of The Pirate.
So ethereal.
The team behind the entire project worked over the past year to bring us all a formidable collection of priceless literary artefacts, including, books & manuscripts, to celebrate the literary saga from the Northern Isles.
Hugh MacDiarmid & George MacKay Brown stand side by side…
Naturally the exhibition celebrates the linguistic history of both Orcadian & Shetland dialects. I notably marvelled at the glass cabinets dedicated to them, and savoured a moment before Jakob Jakobsen’s linguistic wonder.
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My heart also bowed at John & Lollie Graham, but also Stella Sutherland & Rhoda Bulter among the 20th Century greats from the Shetland pantheon of poets. Their faces beam at you.
What a feast for the reader and writer that I am!
I certainly need to return to sample and digest better this phenomenal literary showcase. Thank goodness, it is running till 11 May 2014.
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it is not to be missed.
All Museum staff involved in such exhibition, as Barbara smiled, deserve a pat on the back.
Please click on the link for full details on that formidable literary journey at:
Writing The North
The final day of events planned for Saturday 10 May includes a series of talks as well as an evening of poetry reading.
Free tickets available from Shetland Museum & Archives. I will certainly reserve my ticket :-)>

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Filed under 2014, 60N, celebration, exhibition, geopoetics, island, lerwick, life, museum, north, project, review, shetland, spring, world, writing

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