writing the north


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.

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.

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.


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.

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 :-)>



Leave a comment

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s